In this series of posts we will be looking at events where Kilts are often worn, and will be taking a closer look at some of the more traditional settings for Kilt wearing. To start off we shall look at an event than can take place throughout the year, though they tend to be partnered with certain occasions such as Burn’s night, Weddings and during the festive period. That event is the Céilidh.
A Céilidh, is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing. Originally they started as assemblies where stories and tales were shared and songs were sung. More recently the music and dancing has taken precedence, but the tradition of guests telling stories or reading poetry still survives in some areas.
Music at these events is usually provided by a Céilidh band consisting of a mix of instruments. These can include, but not limited too, the fiddle, flute, tin whistle, accordion, bodhrán, and in more recent times also drums, guitar and electric bass guitar.
The music is cheerful and lively, and the basic steps can be learned easily; a short instructional session is often provided for new dancers before the start of the dance itself by one of the band members.
The dances involve either couples or ‘sets‘. A “Set” consists of six to eight couples, with each pair of couples facing another in a square or rectangular formation. Each couple exchanges position with the facing couple, and also facing couples exchange partners, while all the time keeping in step with the beat of the music.
From my personal experience Ceilidhs are great fun, with the energetic dance and lively music. The fact that most of the dances are in groups or set’s means that its easy to get involved and there are lots of people to keep you right if you don’t know the particular dance. Ceilidh bands usually have a caller who will run through a dance first as they understand not everyone will know the moves straight off. Ceilidhs are good social events to show off your Kilt with the spins and whirls displaying the kilt in all its glory!
Look out for public ceilidh events throughout the year, often around Burn’s night. Ceilidhs happen all year round, for example Sloans in Glasgow has a weekly Ceilidh. Visit Scotland provide a search guide for public Ceilidh events throughout Scotland! Check your local area for Ceilidhs near you, and I hope to see your Kilt spinning on the dancefloor!