Dancing Is Life to Kilted Expatriates

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Dancing Is Life to Kilted Expatriates

When Gavin Mackay was chieftain of the St. Andrews Society in Korea, he had two important creative fits. One of his innovations was the Muckleshunter, the other was the Reel of Seoul. Both have brought much sweat, toil and laughter to the Scottish expatriate community.

The dancing portion of the annual Muckleshunter, an informal cocktail party with Scottish dancing, got off to a late start last Friday. But once the current chieftain, Ken Gibson, announced that "there will be no more formalities," there was no holding back the revelry. The 80 participants got on the dance floor to celebrate life with Scottish dance sets they had practiced for a month.

"It was quite an energetic evening," Mr. Gibson said. Any sense of bashfulness was left at the entrance of the Diamond Ballroom at the COEX Inter-Continental Hotel as everyone joined the dancing. People laughed if they made mistakes and laughed if they got it right. At 1:30 a.m., participants slowly drifted homeward, but only after wiping off the sweat from three hours of dancing 15 sets, some repeated more than once, like the Reel of Seoul.

After more than 10 years, the Muckleshunter has become a tradition in Seoul, but it is not a traditional Scottish event. The two big events for the St. Andrews Societies around the world are the St. Andrews Ball, held at the end of November and Burns' Night at the end of January.

Each year in Seoul since 1976, anywhere between 200 and 300 people attend the St. Andrews Ball, which is named after the patron saint of Scotland. Preparations include 10 weeks of dance classes.

One day in 1989, Mr. Mackay calculated that all those lessons for one night of dancing was "a bit of a waste." Declaring, "We'd better have another event," he slapped together two Gaelic words, muckle for great and shunter for dancing, creating the Muckleshunter.

He choreographed the Reel of Seoul out of a desire "for us to have our own dance." The "us" refers to an international community of supporters, as there are only a small number of true Scotsman living in Korea. Mr. Gibson can name the 12 Scots, including himself, who are currently members of the St. Andrews Society based in Korea.

To a true Scot, dancing is an essential part of life, even if, as Mr. Mackay says, "Your actual Anglo-Saxon doesn't quite have rhythm."

When James V of Scotland married Marie deGuise in 1524, his French bride brought court dancing to her rough new home. The new steps took off in the Scottish court and were made more lively. By the early 20th century, the foxtrot and two-step had eclipsed Scottish dancing. Groups began seeking out old Scottish dances and music. Jean Milligan and Stewart Fasnacloich formed the Scottish Country Dance Society in Scotland in 1923, bringing folk dancing firmly back into the Scottish consciousness. The society records about 600 traditional dances and new variations.

Over a beer at O'Kim's a week before the Muckleshunter, Mr. Mackay said the Reel of Seoul is probably missing from the dance society's book. But he was willing to wager that the dance has been exported, even if it has not been officially recognized. Since the creation of this reel, 1,500 people have participated in St. Andrews Society events. Many take the dance with them to their new homes.

Mr. Mackay recalled one Australian woman crying on his shoulder as she talked about leaving Seoul. "As I comforted her, she blurted out, 'I'll miss the dancing.'"


SCOTS, SAUSAGES MIX VERY NICELY

More than a decade after Gavin Mackay created the Muckleshunter and the Reel of Seoul, he brought another touch of his homeland to Korea. Two weeks ago, he opened Gavin's Sausages in Pyeongchang-dong. The first such factory in Korea, Gavin's Sausages was born out of pure desperation.

Until 1990, Mr. Mackay used to go to Hong Kong to buy freezer bags of sausages, but the store there closed. In order to feed a craving for sausages made the British way, Mr. Mackay and a group of friends formed the Seoul British Sausage Society. They bought a Kenwood Chef sausage gun. Soon, Mr. Mackay developed a reputation for making delicious sausages, and upgraded his equipment to a hand machine.

In time, several hotels approached him to make breakfast sausages and the scale became too large for a hand machine. With the backing of his family, he decided to open a factory to feed friends, fulfill commercial requests and perhaps set himself up in a retirement career.

The bulk of the factory's business is commercial, but Gavin's Sausages also sells individual packages. Some of the recipes are from Britain, but with the help of his mother-in-law, Mr. Mackay has created flavors from kimchi to pork and leeks. The seasoning is from Scotland, but the rest of the ingredients are local produce.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Due to the number of Sunday hikers, operating days may change to Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, call 02-396-0239.

SCOTS, SAUSAGES MIX VERY NICELY

More than a decade after Gavin Mackay created the Muckleshunter and the Reel of Seoul, he brought another touch of his homeland to Korea. Two weeks ago, he opened Gavin's Sausages in Pyeongchang-dong. The first such factory in Korea, Gavin's Sausages was born out of pure desperation.

Until 1990, Mr. Mackay used to go to Hong Kong to buy freezer bags of sausages, but the store there closed. In order to feed a craving for sausages made the British way, Mr. Mackay and a group of friends formed the Seoul British Sausage Society. They bought a Kenwood Chef sausage gun. Soon, Mr. Mackay developed a reputation for making delicious sausages, and upgraded his equipment to a hand machine.

In time, several hotels approached him to make breakfast sausages and the scale became too large for a hand machine. With the backing of his family, he decided to open a factory to feed friends, fulfill commercial requests and perhaps set himself up in a retirement career.

The bulk of the factory's business is commercial, but Gavin's Sausages also sells individual packages. Some of the recipes are from Britain, but with the help of his mother-in-law, Mr. Mackay has created flavors from kimchi to pork and leeks. The seasoning is from Scotland, but the rest of the ingredients are local produce.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Due to the number of Sunday hikers, operating days may change to Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, call 02-396-0239.




SCOTS, SAUSAGES MIX VERY NICELY


More than a decade after Gavin Mackay created the Muckleshunter and the Reel of Seoul, he brought another touch of his homeland to Korea. Two weeks ago, he opened Gavin's Sausages in Pyeongchang-dong. The first such factory in Korea, Gavin's Sausages was born out of pure desperation.

Until 1990, Mr. Mackay used to go to Hong Kong to buy freezer bags of sausages, but the store there closed. In order to feed a craving for sausages made the British way, Mr. Mackay and a group of friends formed the Seoul British Sausage Society. They bought a Kenwood Chef sausage gun. Soon, Mr. Mackay developed a reputation for making delicious sausages, and upgraded his equipment to a hand machine.

In time, several hotels approached him to make breakfast sausages and the scale became too large for a hand machine. With the backing of his family, he decided to open a factory to feed friends, fulfill commercial requests and perhaps set himself up in a retirement career.

The bulk of the factory's business is commercial, but Gavin's Sausages also sells individual packages. Some of the recipes are from Britain, but with the help of his mother-in-law, Mr. Mackay has created flavors from kimchi to pork and leeks. The seasoning is from Scotland, but the rest of the ingredients are local produce.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Due to the number of Sunday hikers, operating days may change to Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, call 02-396-0239.



WEB SITESEEING


Are the Highlands calling? Get on line.


www.scotlandonline.com

This site provides Scottish information, from current events and the weather in Scotland to job hunting and traveling. One of the more fascinating links is under "Heritage." It allows you to track your clan. If you're not Scottish and are wondering what clan your surname most resembles, the site will find the closest match.


www.geoffreykilts.co.uk

Kilts may not be the height of contemporary fashion, but during St. Andrews Society events, people wear them with pride. This site belongs to one of the best kilt tailors based in the United Kingdom. Geoffrey Tailor will ship kilts in tartan and other designs to Korea.


by Joe Yong-hee

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