Ceilidh season is upon us with St Andrews, Christmas, and Hogmanay but for those who have never been to a Ceilidh before and are nervous about it, we have made the ultimate Ceilidh Survival guide to get you in the swing of things.
1. What is a ceilidh?
First of all, it’s pronounced “KAY-lee” to rhyme with daily, gaily, ukelele, Israeli and Bill Haley. It basically means “gathering”. Old style ceilidhs were where people would come together and sing songs, read poems, dance and socialise. Now it’s mostly about the music and dancing, but it’s still a truly Scottish family-friendly social occasion.
2. What should I wear to a ceilidh?
It’s a social ocassion, so you can dress up if you like. But it’s also energetic, so flat shoes are better than high heels. That goes for the ladies, too. Bring your dancing shoes, or bare feet is also fine (depending on your partner!) Guys, who doesn’t look great in a kilt? But take your jackets off, if you don’t want to get too hot! Sporrans can twist to the side to prevent, er, bruising, and for those of you carrying a sgian dubh (that wee chib they give you for your sock), stick it in your jacket pocket before you get up for a jig if it’s likely to work loose.
3. Don’t I need to know the dances?
Nae bother at a’. The Jiggers’ dance caller will teach you the dances clearly and quickly without any fuss whatever. Even seasoned ceilidh-goers like a wee reminder, if only to ensure everyone else knows what they’re doing! It takes about 1 minute to show people the steps, and the fun is in learning some new dances, and remembering some old ones. Very occasionally, we play for experienced ceilidh clubs who don’t need a reminder, but most folks like to be talked through, and we’re happy to oblige. It’s incredibly easy- your grannie could do it! And as long as the top half looks confident, we’re not too bothered what the bottom half is doing…
4. So what does the “dance caller” do?
He explains the steps – he’ll make sure everyone has a partner, is facing the right way, and he’ll talk you through a “round” of the dance. Then, when the music starts, he’ll make sure that you’re coping OK, and give a wee reminder where needed. You can trust the Jiggers to keep you right!
5. Will I enjoy it?
What’s not to love? It’s dancing that gets everyone, young and old, all dancing together. It’s great for community spirit, for exercise, and it’s SOOOO easy. Throw caution to the wind, and get up on the dance floor. Life is not a spectator sport!
6. Don’t I need a dance partner?
That’s the beauty of it…you can just ask anyone to join you, or just get onto the dance floor and we’ll get you a dance partner. Not all dances need a partner either- some are group dances, so you can get all the people sitting around you at your table up for a wee jig. There’s always someone to dance with.
7. Won’t I look silly?
Yes, you will. But only if you sit at the side and don’t get up for a dance all night! Yes we know, getting up for a dance sometimes takes a little bit of courage. But only a little bit. And are you going to be a leader, or a follower? Ceilidh dancing is how you learn what it means to be Scottish- this is our cultural heritage…it’s who we are! So less timidity please. Scots are not careful, stick-in-the-mud, shy, browbeaten people – we’re braveheart, kilts-to-the-wind, cry-FRRREEDOM people. Don’t refute it…Set aboot it!
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