Bouncing and twirling people are everywhere; it appears they are attempting to dance but failing miserably, at least to those who’ve never seen this sort of dancing before – welcome to the Ceilidh! After observing the apparent chaos for several minutes, it is time to work up the courage to join in, despite not knowing the steps. With the help of a Scottish gentleman who knows the ropes and using observation and imitation skills, it is quite possible to get used to the dances at the Ceilidh.
A Ceilidh is an event that consists mostly of different dances and involves Gaelic folk music. To take part in such an adventure, a visit to the BONGO Club is one of the best choices. One of the organisers of this Club is Eilidh Steel and she was willing to answer some questions concerning Ceilidh dancing.
Steel explained that Ceilidh is a Scottish Gaelic word which has evolved from Old Irish. Originally Ceilidh meant a social gathering. This can be associated with the fact that family-members and friends from the Highlands often lived far away from each other. Consequently they came up with a big event to unite the whole family and celebrate together. Such a feast involved, among other things, songs, story telling and dancing, although over the years dancing became the main element of the Ceilidh.
Nowadays there are different kinds of Ceilidh dances depending on the area. Sometimes the speed of the dances differs as well. For example the dances on the west coast are much faster than the ones on the east coast.
At the BONGO Club several tourists, who want to experience something traditionally Scottish first-hand, take to the floor. This is normal but as Eilidh Steel confirmed, many locals come to join the dancing as well. The main motivation for attending a Ceilidh would be the social aspect and the fun. It is not surprising that a Ceilidh seems a little like a dating agency comparable to speed-dating only with more spinning. Partners usually change from dance to dance, if it is not a group dance, giving approximately three to five minutes to explore whether the chemistry is right or not.
Being a novice at Ceilidh dancing is no problem because there is always someone who explains the steps. You are free to skip dances in order to relax and to catch your breath, but you should grab the chance to dance and…
Text and photo by Edinburgh team March 2011
CLICK TO FIND OUT MORE