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A Few Ceilidh Dances

In modern usage, a céilidh or ceilidh /ˈkeɪlɪ/ is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing. It originated in Ireland and Scotland, but is now common throughout the Irish and Scottish communities. In Irish it is spelt céilí and in Scottish Gaelic it is spelt cèilidh.

dashing

DASHING WHITE SERGEANT

A ‘round the room’ dance in threes, a man being flanked by two ladies of the other way round but making up a dancing set of six.  Half the groups of three will progress clockwise and half anti-clockwise.

1 – 8 All dance six hands round and back
9 – 12 Man or lady in centre of the three, sets to and turns the person on his or her right
13 – 16 Man or lady in centre of the three, sets to and turns the person on his or her left.
17 – 24 Each group of three on its own dances a reel of three (a local variation may be to swing each partner in turn)
25 – 28 Centre person joins hands with his or her partners and all advance to meet opposite group and retire
29 – 32 All advance once again and dance through opposite group ready to repeat the dance with the next group of three

THE EIGHTSOME REEL

Devised by the Duke of Atholl and some friends in the latter part of the nineteenth century, it is probably the dance for which Scots have the most affection, even if they can’t do it.  Form up in a square set, ladies on partners’ right.

1 – 8 All circle eight hands round and back
9 – 12 Cartwheel clockwise, ladies joining right hands in the centre
13 – 16 Cartwheel anti-clockwise, men joining left hands in the centre
17 – 20 Set twice to partner
21 – 24 Swing partner or turn partner both hands
25 – 40 Grand chain (men moving anti-clockwise, ladies clockwise).  Listen to the music and take your time (two steps to each hand back to original position); the dancing of this chain too quickly is a main reason for chaos ensuing in an eightsome
41 – 88 First lady goes into the centre and dances on her own while the remainder dance
seven hands round and back
First lady sets to her partner and turns him
First lady sets to opposite man and turns him
First lady and the two men she has set to and turned dance a reel of three across the dance
First lady remains in the centre and dance on her own while remainder dance seven hands round and back
First lady sets to the man on her partner’s right and turns him
First lady sets to man opposite and turns him
First lady and the two men she has just set to and turned dance a reel of three across the dance
First lady returns to original place
89 – 232 The movements in bars 41 to 88 are now repeated in turn by second, third and fourth ladies
233 – 424 The movements in bards 41 to 88 are then repeated in turn by first, second, third and fourth men dancing with the appropriate ladies
425 – 464 Repeat bards 1 to 40

STRIP THE WILLOW (OR DROPS OF BRANDY)

This is another dance that can end in bedlam unless dances listen to the music.  Originally a weaving dance using a running step in 9/8 time, your band is likely to play a selection of Irish 6/8 jigs to make life easier for the guests who only dance occasionally.  Although it can be danced in one long line (Orkney style) sets of four allow for more control.

1 – 4 First couple turn two and a half times right hand to finish facing second couple
5 – 6 First lady turns second man with left hand as partner moves into position down the dance
7 – 8 First lady turns partner right hand
9 – 12 First lady turns third man left hand and partner right hand
13 – 16 First lady turns fourth man left hand and partner right hand
17 – 28 It is now the turn of the man to work up the ladies’ side of the dance, turning fourth, third and second lady in turn left hand and partner right hand
29 – 40 First couple now jointly work their way down the dance, turning each other right hands and second, third and fourth couples in turn left hands, finishing with the necessary turn at the bottom to return to own side