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What is a Ceilidh

A Ceilidh (pronounced "Kay-lay", emphasis on 1st syllable) is many things. It derives from the Gaelic word meaning a visit and originally meant just that (and still does in Gaelic). It can also mean a house party, a concert or more usually an evening of informal Scottish traditional dancing to informal music. Ceilidhs in the Lowlands tend to be dances, in the Highlands they tend to be concerts. Dances in the Highlands and traditional ceilidhs in the Lowlands are often called "ceilidh dances". Ceilidh dancing is fundamentally different from Scottish Country Dancing (See answer [10.4]) in that it is much less formal and the primary purpose is the enjoyment of doing the dance. Scottish Country Dancing is much more oriented towards being a demonstration or exhibition. Ceilidhs are extremely popular indeed with young people and often attract from a few dozen people to several hundred. There are world championships for ceilidh bands now (the first winners were Fire in the Glen, later called Tannas). There are also workshops for ceilidh bands at
ALP Scots Music Group, The Drill Hall, 36 Dalmeny Street Edinburgh EH6 8RG 0131 555 7668
Scots Music Group, Eric Liddell Centre, 15 Morningside Road, Edinburgh, EH10 4DP


Best places for Ceilidhs are:



Assembly Rooms and The Hub are the best venues.

Also try: Marco's leisure centre, Cafe Royal, Southside Community Centre, St Bride's centre, St Oswald's Hall (Montpelier), Methodist Halls, The Thomas Morton Hall, MacEwan Hall, St Pete's Church Hall in Lutton Place and Caledonian Brewery.

The West End Hotel has leaflets on the noticeboard showing when ceilidhs are on, or look in the Folk music section of The List (the Glasgow and Edinburgh what's on guide; out fortnightly available at most newsagents). (look for Glasgow/Edinburgh sections). Info on Ceilidhs in the folk music section


A good book for anyone wanting to learn how to do ceilidh dances and play ceilidh tunes is Let's have a ceilidh by Robbie Shepherd (well known Radio Scotland presenter of Take the Floor) Price 4.95, 100 pages.
Published by Canongate Press, 14 Frederick St, Edinburgh, EH2 2HB ISBN 0 86241 412 1

Includes 20 of the most popular dances, plus a selection of music to go with the dances. There are explanations for the various steps with diagrams, as well as some notes on the history of dancing.

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