Originally the word Ceilidh (kay-lee) descended from the Gaelic word for ‘gathering’ or ‘party’… However, these days when people think of a Ceilidh, they think of a fun-filled night of wild dancing, good music and great company!

A ceilidh is a Scottish social event which involves traditional folk music and dancing. You will normally come across ceilidhs on special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. However, there are several venues across Edinburgh and Scotland which regularly host ceilidhs all year round such as Summerhall and the Ghillie Dhu.

To start this article we’d like to have you in the mood. Here is a super nice video that you can play in the background while reading to feel the Sottish spirit.

How does this Ceilidh thing work?

So one of the band members walks us through each dance. He explains each part of it until it seems like we understand. We try it once without music before doing it “full out”. Then, the music starts, he gives us the cue so we all start at the same time and you just hope you remember the moves! Each dance lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. The dance moves aren’t really hard, you just have to remember them!

Here’s an example:

Where does Ceilidh come from?

Dating back to 1875, Ceilidh originates from Scotland and Ireland although its name comes from Gaelic; it’s a combination of Scottish, Irish and English folk music.

Ceilidh music and dancing (pronounced “kay-lee” and meaning “visit”) is becoming more and more popular! We are getting a number of enquiries from brides and grooms to be as well as others planning a celebration, requesting a Ceilidh band for their special event. As so many people are asking all about it we thought it would be useful to tell you what it is, where it came from and why it makes an electric party atmosphere with plenty of fizzing excitement!

Traditionally it is a gathering or social event, and it didn’t necessarily involve any dancing.  These days a Ceilidh is a sociable way to bring people together involving Scottish music and dance.

Join us every Friday

We go the Ceilidh every Friday >> http://inlingua-edinburgh.co.uk/social-programme

What Line-Up?

A Ceilidh band normally consists of two or three people, a fiddler, an accordionist and a ‘caller’ to help everyone get into the swing of things and learn the dances. But, line-ups may also include guitarists, drums, keyboards and whistles amongst other instruments.

Nowadays, the music isn’t always traditional either, it can be very contemporary as there are a number of new-style Ceilidh bands bringing a fresh slant on the old folk songs and even putting a twist on current music. This makes it funky, modern and gives you a brand new sound. There’s plenty of rock and roll influence now as well, so if you really want your guests to get down and groove check-out some of Warble Entertainment’s Ceilidh bands – they are absolutely guaranteed to get even the most reluctant dancer strutting their stuff!

Here a wee list of the usual Scottish dances that you can enjoy at a Ceilidh:

– Virginia Reel
– Military Two-Step
– Cumberland Reel
– Flying Scotsman
– Canadian Barndance
– Cumberland Square 8 (the one with the baskets)
– Circassian Circle
– St. Bernard’s Waltz

What is its role in Scottish culture?

Most people in Scotland know how to ceilidh dance.  They were taught in gym lessons at school.  It is often used to bring together two sides of a family at a wedding to start the party, or as a celebration at a work, Christmas or corporate party.

Who is a Ceilidh Suitable for?

The beauty of a ceilidh or Barn Dance is that everyone can take part, young or old, experienced dancers, to beginners and even those with two left feet! No experience is necessary! It doesn’t matter what age, ability or personality type a person is – everyone loves to get involved and no experience is necessary! It is very easy to pick up.

The dances are all varied and there are plenty of paces available, fast, slow and even mid-tempo – so if some of the dances are hard to keep up with that’s your cue to take a break and perhaps enjoy a glass of champagne or wine before you get involved again. Party-goers love the flexibility of a Ceilidh because you may get moving when you want and take a break when your feet can’t keep up any more.

If you ever get the chance to go to a Ceilidh, don’t hesitate and just go! This will be the best memory of your time in Scotland! It may seem intimidating to go to a Ceilidh, but don’t worry if you don’t know the moves, somebody will help you!

Ceilidhs are a lot of fun and they play a regular part in our social programme, so you will have plenty of time to practice once you’re here!