At The Ceilidh

Last night I went to a ceilidh (pronounced ‘cay-lee’), a Scottish country dance, with many delightful buddies. I had never been to one before and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I mean, I knew there would be kilts, but that was about it.

It was at a little social hall in Newtown and they kind of knew that a big group of people who were substantially younger than the usual patrons was on its way, but I think they were still a little taken aback when forty of us in our various hilarious attempts at tartan rolled up.


Everyone was super friendly though and our group got a special mention from the Gaelic-speaking (and singing!) MC.

Singing In Gaelic

Things started out fairly sedately, with a couple of slow waltz-y type dances that only the awesome old-timers knew.

Sedate Waltzing

(I ended up dancing with both the gentlemen herein depicted in their kilts, and they were both an absolute pleasure to dance with. )


They started doing some of the set dances afterwards and you can only imagine what it was like, with only about four people who knew what they were doing and the rest of us bumbling around and falling over ourselves and screaming GRAB HANDS GO TO THE MIDDLE GO FASTER GO GO GO at each other.

I’ve done this sort of thing a little tiny bit, years ago, when we used to have formal balls in college and we did the Sir Roger de Coverly and I used to take waltz workshops and things like that—in fact the whole night I delighted in telling anyone who would listen that while they were experimenting with drugs and polyamory in college, I was experimenting with lindy hop and tango, ha HA. It’s fairly easy to pick up though: lots of hopping and skipping and running around, lots of spinning. I remembered some things and forgot a lot more and got twirled too fast and fell down a couple of times and got hot and sweaty and had to take off my leggings. We had so much fun.



Making A Bridge

I never ballroom dance anymore but man, when I was in college and right after I feel like that’s all I ever did. Strictly Ballroom and Swingers had just come out and for a while there in the late nineties I feel like I was always going to social dance class or pushing the tables in the dining hall out of the way so we could all attempt to do the Congress of Vienna or driving out to the Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association or flying up to the Bay Area and strapping on ye olde hoop skirt for a Gaskell. I kind of miss that—it’s just so awesome and everyone gets really into it and smiles and laughs and is silly in the best sense. It’s not that you can’t have that on a night out on Courtenay Place, of course, just at a regular club or bar because of course you can. It just feels different to do this kind of thing, especially when you get to do it with people who know what they’re doing and care about what they’re doing. One of the regulars was kind enough to ask me for a foxtrot and even though I immediately panicked and whimpered something about not knowing how, but he just was such a smooth and patient lead that by the end of the dance I was all “I love the foxtrot!” but really what I was trying to say was that I just love to dance, I just love dancing. I need to dance more. Everyone needs to dance more.

We had such a good time, twirling and spinning and hopping and leaping, panting for breath and pushing our hair off our foreheads and getting sore calves. I felt like I had such a crush on everyone in the room by the end of the night, like I wanted to do nothing else than to stamp rhythmically to accordion music surrounded by lovely old gentlemen in their kilts, and I can’t wait to go back again.

Tartan! Lots Of Tartan!

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  1. When I was living in London one of my classmates went to a church that had one of these dances. I took square dancing in HS so I was all in when she asked if I’d like to come. It was so much fun! I don’t know that I wound up being any good at all but surely no one else was having as good a time as I was!!

  2. OMG- I love ceilidhs! I went to university in Edinburgh and this reminds me of one of my most favorite things about the place- at all the uni balls, they would set aside a room for a ceilidh band. And boys in kilts! So cute!