According to Wikipedia ‘a ceilidh is a traditional Scottish or Irish gathering. In its most basic form, it simply means a social visit. But in contemporary usage, it usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing, either at a house party or a larger concert at a social hall or other community gathering place.’ Although mainly focused in Scotland and Ireland, ceilidhs do happen all over the world where there are roots back to the Scottish/Irish communities. It’s even rumoured that ceilidhs have reached as far away as England!
Oh and to save any confusion, its pronounced kay-lee…
These days ceilidhs are very common throughout Scotland. A ceilidh band is usually hired to play at a formal event such as a wedding, birthday party or fundraising event. Depending on where you go, these events can go from very formal to extremely non formal. Novice dancers are common so a ‘caller’ is usually provided to guide everyone through the steps. Scottish schools usually teach ceilidh dancing as part of the dreaded ‘social dance’ class with the school holding a ceilidh at Christmas or the end of the year.
Ceilidhs are meant for everyone to dance to. There are always varying age groups from newborns to the slightly older generations at a ceilidh. Skill level is almost always extremely varied and dancers are not expected to know every step completely, it’s all about having some fun! Although a shrinking scene a few decades ago the ceilidh is definitely undergoing a renaissance in the Scottish culture with it becoming the norm at formal events and weddings! Which is great new! Right?!