Miss Muir’s Dancing Classes

A little forgotten piece of Blantyre history which I hope to bring back to attention again here.

In March, April and May 1898, Miss Muir of High Blantyre formed juvenile and adult dancing classes at the Masonic Hall on Main Street. Three whole months of dance classes came to a close on Friday 13th May 1898 for the adults and the day before for children.

Special late nights were held on the 2 closing evenings, which was exceptionally busy on the adults night and everybody enjoyed themselves to the utmost. On the Thursday evening, the children’s night, tickets were issued to the parents and families of the children who took part in displaying all the various dances they had learned over the sessions. Everything was conducted very gracefully showing how successful the classes had been.

Mrs Muir was highly complimented for the patience she had shown, especially to the Blantyre children and had been quickly brought into line. The attention of the children to their steps and of their own discipline was well noticed. Mr James and Miss Muir had supplied the music themselves on both nights.

Now, this story may not seem particularly noteworthy, but I think is worth remembering. When I looked into this, I couldn’t help but feel there was a certain charm in families heading out to communal classes to learn a pastime in those days before electronics and I’d like to think everybody enjoyed themselves.

AI Imagines this scene as pictured.

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,

Chris Ladds Certainly worth recording and recapitulating for the sense of social lessons it may remind others of. People were so grateful to have any recreational time back then, and it seems there was an increasing emphasis on entertainment and the availability of public venues to host them towards the end of that century. They would host things in pubs and school rooms if they had to. In this region there was evidence of this far and wide from the 1870s onwards, but it is puzzling what the concerted motivation behind it all was. It may have been as an indirect result (trickling down) of becoming beneficiaries of ’empire’, alongside the rise of mass produced goods, which offset household costs and chore times, thereby opening up some recreational time even amongst the struggling working classes, children included… This would need analysed to bear it out. There was after all, no major and particular change in circumstances on the whole. It sort of developed with the eventual rise of public services. Many who were young at that time were the same ones who in their senior years came together to form their own groups, clubs, societies etc in the 1950s-70s. Over in EK for example there were at least 250 by the 1970s and people were commended on the success of making their own entertainments and forging true community. It is so different today and there seems to be a comparative lack of imagination and drive. Much has moved online, people are more demanding of getting a physical product or object out of it, or to attend bespoke dedicated ‘premises’ belonging to a business. Many community halls are facing risk of closure. I think there is something to be said for the benefits of making one’s own fun in the company of kindred spirits, and valuing the act of gathering in the absence of concepts of consumerism and exoticism. People still attend classes and clubs, but there is much less demand and variety it seems because of alternative entertainment (YouTube, netflix) and the devaluation of more humble get together.

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