Text by Ian Mitchell
photos by Don Craig
On the afternoon of Saturday, August 29 the Scottish community in Moscow, and its friends, gathered for a Stramash on the island in the Krasnaya Presnya Park, near the World Trade Center on the Moscow River. What is a “stramash”, many people asked? It is a kind of slightly out-of-control party which goes beyond a ho-ro-gheallaidh, but stops short of a stooshie. Got it? If not, you cannot have been there, because anyone who was will now know what a great stramash amounts to.
A good part of the day’s success was due to the generous sponsorship of Famous Grouse, Pepsi-Cola with Irn Bru, Pilsner Urquell beer, Château le Grand Vostock, Moevenpick and Grants whisky, all of whom provided either free libations, both alcoholic and otherwise, or prizes for the competitions, or both of these. The catering was provided by the Moscow restaurant, Navarros, who catered for 500 people. The other main sponsor was the CDM Group which arranged the bands.
Luckily the weather held out so everyone could enjoy the music, the food, the drink and the dancing. As they arrived, guests were piped across the water by Vladimir Lazerson and met with a 100- prize tombola, just to get everyone in a generous mood. At the next table was a Scottish quiz designed to establish who was most worthy of the prizes which descended from the winner’s bottle of 18-year-old Glenfiddich. And anyone who felt empowered by consumption of Scotland’s amber gold could indulge in a bout of arm wrestling with a Russian female team who took on all-comers, usually successfully!
Other attractions were a show of dogs by the Russian Biewer Society, the “Grouse girls” who poured famous drams for anyone wise enough to ask for one, a wine tasting by Château le Grand Vostock, and an informal distribution of Grants 12-year-old whisky to persistent inquirers at the quiz stand.
The main proceedings were opened by Alan Thompson, Chieftain of the St. Andrews Society of Russia, who was splendidly attired in the feileadh beag, or informal Highland kilt, which is loosely cut to permit easy leaping from crag to crag for the purpose of chasing English invaders or one’s neighbor’s livestock. The society donated all funds raised by the event to local charities including the Kitezh Children’s Community, who also had a table describing their activities. Later some of the children performed a medley from Jesus Christ Superstar in English.
Then the music started. Expat bands, who play regularly round Moscow, included Red River Trails, Dr Nick, Mail Order Bride, and finally Babette. In the intervals between sets, there was what many guests thought the highlight of the event, namely the country dancing. This was organized by the Moscow based Shady Glen and many of those present joined in, doing céilidh favorites like the Dashing White Sergeant, the Gay Gordons and a spirited Strip the Willow.
The dancers from Shady Glen put on a demonstration of Highland dances too, including the Swords. The applause was loud and long, not least because, the organizers said, there were more Russian guests than in former years, and all seemed to enjoy the Scottish hospitality.
Readers who would like to participate in other St. Andrews Society events, should log on to the website at www. scottishmoscow.org. The next fixture is the St. Andrews Night Ball on December 5 at the Holiday Inn Sokolniki.