CATEGORY: PORT TOWNSEND
To begin with I want to say that, as far as I know, I am not Scandinavian. However, my knowledge is sketchy, and considering the history of America, or even of the world, anybody could be anything if you go back far enough. No one at the Sons of Norway has ever questioned my heritage; I am tall and blonde, so I look Scandinavian; my name after marriage at an early age, was first Knudsen and then Anderson, so I sound Scandinavian; then I learned Scandinavian dancing, so I danced Scandinavian. In America appearances are everything. What else is there?
Well, there is more than that to some people, even in America. To my sister Mary, for example, having the ducks on one’s family tree lined up in the right order is mandatory. Mary is a literal person and is easily disturbed by improprieties. When I first told her I was doing Scandinavian dancing (I on the phone in Port Townsend and she in Bend) she was shocked. She said, “But, Jean, we aren’t Scandinavian you know!” Later it was, “Jean, why are you doing this? You aren’t even Scandinavian!” This went on for a few years whenever I mentioned my dancing activities. Then one day I got a letter from her that said, “I just read an article that said the Norsemen raped and pillaged all down the coast of Scotland, so you COULD be Scandinavian after all.” That was the end of it. I never heard another negative word. So if this has found rest in the mind of my straight-laced sister, it need not be in question for anyone else.
My becoming a Scandia (common abbreviation) dancer happened after I had moved to Port Townsend. Port Townsend was only 38 miles from Poulsbo, a town that was settled by Norwegian immigrants and is still 80% Norwegian. I heard that there were free Scandinavian dance lessons given at the Norway Hall there, so I started going. I had been a dancer since childhood, and I took to this new dance form like a reindeer to tundra. For twenty five years, I drove to Poulsbo every Monday night, just like religion. Soon there were as many as fourteen others joining me from Port Townsend. At the Norway Hall, there were thirty to seventy others all learning to dance and helping others learn. A wonderful thing about Scandia dancing is that it is addictive, and dancers will travel long distances to dances in other places. We had exchanges with groups in Port Angeles, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Victoria and Vancouver, BC. We even met dancers from San Francisco, other places in California and in Oregon.