By Kim Dumo, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The St. Andrew Society is hosting its 25th annual Caledonian Ball on October 15th at the luxury Copacabana Palace hotel to promote the knowledge of Scottish history and culture in Rio de Janeiro. The purpose of the gala event is not only to build awareness and support for the society, but also to raise money for local charities.
The Iain MacPhail Band is back again this year and the ball continues the tradition of Scottish dancing and good times. The local Scottish population is always excited about the opportunity to share their customs, humor, music, drink and dance with their Brazilian hosts and friends as well as many others who are intrigued by their Scottish lifestyle.
The Copacabana Palace not only sponsors the St. Andrew Society and its many endeavors, but also shows its support by hosting the Iain MacPhail Band for ten days free of charge to allow the proceeds of this event to be given to the less fortunate. The hotel facing the beach is a famous landmark in Copacabana, a draw in itself for those looking for an opportunity to get dressed up.
The St. Andrew Society was founded in 1906 and is the oldest of its kind in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, support from the local community has diminished according to James Frew, the St. Andrew Society president.
“When I came to Rio in 1982, the society had a much bigger following than today. There is a new generation of Scots in Rio which don’t seem to have the same interest in their country’s culture.” Frew continues to say, “This may be due to the change in the education system for children in Scotland.”
The St. Andrew Society also performs other civic duties in and around Rio de Janeiro to give back to the community. This year they assisted some underprivileged families affected by the floods and landslides. They also aided neighbors of Society members who have houses in Teresópolis.
The annual Caledonian Ball is an important way to support the oldest foreign society in Rio, and Frew has many hopes but acknowledges the recent struggles. “I would like to guarantee to be able to continue next year but it gets harder and harder every year to keep going.”
Frew goes on to highlight: “In order to spice up the Caledonian Ball this year [the Iain MacPhail Band] are adding a number of ceilidh dances popular at events in Scotland, easy to learn on the night. Pianist Dorothy Lawson is experienced at calling out the steps for these dances.”
In talking about the future of the society and involving younger people in the community, Frew described: “They love the whole atmosphere, the dances, dressing up, the music, the Copacabana Palace menu. Our granddaughter Michelle (17), grandson Michael (16) Karen and Thomas Tyler Williams and over a dozen other young dancers from Rio and Petropolis have been coming to the Caledonian Ball for years.”
Tickets for the Caledonian Ball can be purchased on the St. Andrew Society website for R$195 member’s price and R$215 for guests. Don’t worry about dusting off your tuxedo, as the attire for the event will be kilt, black tie or equivalent.