My Trip to Russia 10th-17th February 2011
After a succesful trip to Moscow for St Andrews celebrations, I was very keen to get back to Russia and play for them again. I was also very happy to find out that the organisors were just as happy to oblige! This time, the dancing organisation in St Petersburg would be the main event. They held a Scottish & Highland dancing masterclass weekend.
Thursday 10th Feb
It was decided that I would fly to Moscow a day ahead of any events so that I can have time to adjust or allow for any delay. Thankfully all travel arrangements went on time and I got there without any trouble.
That night I was treated to some culture and went to see Carmina Burana at the Moscow International House Of Music. Fantastic performance. This was followed by a few refreshments in a Czech bar.
Friday 11th Feb
We took the night train from Moscow to St Petersburg. A train leaving anywhere at midnight is very unusual when you come from Scotland. This one had cabins with bunk beds, specially designed to creep up the country and allow you to sleep. We got to St Petersburg around 6am and proceeded by underground to the hotel. The underground stations are unusal in St Petersburg, there are elevator style doors on the platforms so you never see the train until these doors open and you step inside. Slightly daunting experience.
Saturday 12th Feb
After a great (short & very cold) walk around part of St Petersburg, I went to the venue for that evening. A fantastic bar called "Abeerdeen". Playing here introduced me to the standard of dancing I was to expect at the ball the following night. Very impressive dancers that were young and energetic. Great fun! The taxi back to the hotel took us round a lot of the beautiful architecture that was lit up perfectly in the night against the snow.
Sunday 13th Feb
The main event of the trip is a winter ball, held by the Humpty Dumpty Scottish dancing school. They laid on a heavy scottish country dance programme for me to arrange the music for. I felt like I had a lot of pressure to get the music right, they took me thousands of miles and were relying on me to be as good as they expected. So I had one or 2 nerves but I was confident my programme will be ok. As soon as I played the first dance, I totally relaxed. I found maybe the best dancers I have ever played for. They liked the music to be lively and quick, they smiled, joked & laughed. It was a pleasure to play for them. The only problem I found was that it was over too quickly and time to run to the train station and head for Moscow.
Monday 14th Feb - Valentines day in Moscow!
A new Scottish Restaurant in Moscow were happy to let me play there to romantic couples enjoying valentines dinners. I had a dancer, Maria Zotko is the person responsible for helping me find the work in Moscow and she also runs the dancing group "Shady Glen" Was a lovely evening and plenty dancing and good fun.
Tuesday 15th Feb
Very popular Scottish bar called "Dr Scotch". I played along with a band called the Tin Thistle Ceilidh band. A great night of Scottish dance, music & song. It was also Maria's birthday.
Wednesday 16th Feb.
This gig was in a popular Irish bar called Johnny Greens bar in Moscow. Another great night with the Tin Thistle Ceilidh band!