What is a Ceilidh ?

Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is a Gaelic word from the old Irish and Scottish Gaelic language. 

Long ago a ceilidh was an informal gathering of friends, family or the local community for a social event together. It may have included music, song and dance, but could just as easily have featured poetry, story-telling or anyone's favourite 'party-piece'. There may have been some whisky or food, but the main aim was just to have a good time. In the old days ceilidhs were an important part of rural life in Ireland and in Scotland's Gaelic-speaking districts, and were a great way (before the invention of discos and nightclubs) for young people to meet each other.

Nowadays ceilidhs have changed a bit! Although the traditional social gathering still survives, they have spread to the whole country and can be found as much in cities, schools, work-places, churches, sports clubs or hotels, as in rural community halls. Mostly they have become an event at which people expect Scottish dancing, perhaps with some food, occasionally mixed with other entertainment such as a piper or singer (and maybe even some disco), but mostly ceilidh dancing.

The dancing is usually simple, informal, easy to learn, and much less strict and precise than Scottish Country Dancing. Dances come in all shapes and sizes, some for couples, some in threes or in lines and others in circles, but they're all easy. Sometimes people wear kilts, but it's certainly not compulsory and people often just wear jeans. The music varies from faster jigs and reels to slower waltzes but there's usually a dance caller who explains the steps and often walks dancers through the moves before any music is played. The end result is an informal social night where people still have a great time - just as they did in the old days.


The Skelpit Lugs play for a Dashing White Sergeant dance at the Albert Hall, Stirling


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