so what is english ceilidh?

For the uninitiated: imagine a barn dance or English Country dancing that you might have done at primary school. Think right & left hand star, lines going forward and back, circle left and right, swing…. Relatively simple figures, danced with a partner, usually in a 'set' of several couples, all explained by a caller and walked through before you dance to the music. That is the basis of the dancing. The difference from what you might have danced at school is the music - rather than plinky-plonky, twee tunes played on the school piano or on a crackly old record player, think energetic, rhythmic, stompy music played by people who jump up and down on stage… the tunes themselves may or may not be English and/or traditional in origin, but there's got to be something about them that works with the dance.

Ceilidhs are popular at weddings and other events simply because they are a fun way of getting your guests up on their feet interacting with each other rather than sitting round the edge of the room.

The 'English Ceilidh' scene has grown up over the last few decades, as something that is primarily English (as opposed to Scottish ceilidh or Irish ceili, both strong dance traditions in their own right but not quite the same thing), and that is energetic and accessible (a contrast to Playford or 'Dancer's dance' where the dances are more complex and the music more sedate). All over the country there are festivals over the summer months and regular series of ceilidhs throughout the rest of the year where everybody is simply there to dance. Check out Webfeet to find a ceilidh near you…