A ceilidh dance is a high energy good time, with as much laughing and “heuching” (whooping it up) as dancing. Footwork ranges from walking to skipping to a simple heel and toe. Movement is in repeated patterns that can be quickly grasped. The point is to have fun with friends you know and friends you don’t, to let the music carry you, and to move in rhythm together. The dances include round-the-room couples dances like the Gay Gordons and the Canadian Barn Dance, dances in which the dancing unit is three people, like the Brittania Two-Step and the Dashing White Sargeant, and even the Eightsome Reel, done in a square dance formation.
Our ceilidhs traditionally finish with a boisterous Strip the Willow, which is something like a Virginia Reel, in which the lead couple finishes their turn with a “shoelace” figure, alternately swinging their partner in the middle and everyone in turn along the side til they reach the bottom of the set. Famously, a Strip The Willow streaming down Princes Street in Edinburgh at the turn of the Millenium in 2000 included 1,914 dancers – a Guinness Book World Record!