Learn Ceilidh

Learn Ceilidh Dancing

Below are the simple steps for a few of the dances to help you learn and practice before a wedding reception.  Further below there is a link to another site with another description.

Canadian Barn Dance

(music = Canadian Barn Dance)
“Couples onto the dance floor, boys on the inside from the girls, couples facing anticlockwise around the outside of the floor”
(Dance floor looks like a Gay Gordons albeit the couples don’t do the arms the same way)
Boys on the inside, girls on the outside, their arm around each others waist – so the all face anticlockwise
Everyone goes forwards for three and kick
Back for three and stop
Couples go away from each other for three steps and clap (boys into circle, girls out from circle)
Come back to your partner and hold in the ballroom hold (the waltzing position)
Two sidesteps to the boys’ left
Two sidesteps to the boys’ right
Polka (sadly, these days often needing described as a fast waltz!)

St Bernard’s Waltz

(music = Saint Bernard’s Waltz)
“Couples onto the dance floor, boys on the inside from the girls,  holding each other in the waltzing position around the outside of the floor”
If they know their anticlockwise they should be body-2-body but looking anticlockwise (direction of travel)
Three sidesteps to the gents left and lightly tap-tap on the floor – or a bloody great stomp, I don’t care!
TWO sidesteps to the gents right
Into the circle for TWO – (boys go backwards, leading the lady with them)
Back out for TWO
Gentle turn the lady under the arm (shouldn’t need to say left arm, but it is)
And Waltz with her
That’s it, that’s the entire dance, it’s as easy as that…

Strip the Willow

(music = Strip the Willow or Jigs)
“Looking for sets of 8, four men facing four girls”
They should be organised into sets where all sets are the same way round to avoid injury
Traditionally the sets are organised longways down the floor and the band/DJ is on the men’s left and the top couple of each set is nearest the band – usually possible, not always in some venues though
Four or five couples per set, it doesn’t really matter
“Do we have a couple in each set who know what they are doing?  If so we need them up to the top of the set to make things a bit easier”
Top couples spin for 16
Lady is cast off to the first man down the line, he spins her back into the middle
Partner spins her to the next man, he spins her back into the middle
Partner spins her to the last man, he spins her back into the middle
Now at the bottom of the set, spin for eight
Man does as lady has done, spinning each lady with his partner in between
Once back at the top, spin for eight
Now you both do what you’ve already done with your partner in the middle
At the bottom spin for eight and stop and the next top couple will start.

Circassian Circle

(music = Dashing White Sergeant or 32 Bar Reels)
“Gents bring a lady to the floor, keep her on your left hand side and form one giant circle for a dance that involves walking, clapping and partner swapping”
(Circle forms as boy-girl-boy-girl-boy-girl, etc all holding hands as a circle)
Remind the boys their partner is on their left and that they will get a new partner every time.
Whole circle, all holding hands goes in for four and then back out again for four
They do this bit twice.
Let go of each other
Ladies go in for three and on the fourth clap – then back out again for 4
Boys go in for three and on the fourth clap – STAY!
They come back out to face their partner
Cross over their hands and hold their partner’s
Couples spin for 16 – after which the man is still on the inside of the circle from the girl and still holding hands once they finish
Still holding hands they stand side by side so they are both facing anti-clockwise around the outside of the floor
Promenade, which means simply walk (“does not mean turn around and does not mean stop”) for the count of 16
The gent’s partner is on his right, keep her there and hold hands in a big circle again.
“Gents, you have a new partner – she is on your left”

One day I’ll get some more time to type up some of the other dances we do all the time!

Click here for some dance steps from the www.scottishdance.net site where the more traditional steps with the associated bars of music is detailed.  Whilst reading the steps on this site can seem a little difficult, this site has all the steps you’ll need if you’d like to have a go before the big day – you don’t need to worry though as the caller will easily get everyone through the steps.