05 Nov 2023 Admin

Ultimate Guide to Ceilidhs: How to Dance A Ceilidh

* Updated November 2023

Mastering the Art of Ceilidh Dancing: A Comprehensive Guide for 2023


In 2023, Music For Scotland is fortunate to continue featuring some of the most outstanding ceilidh and covers bands in Scotland. From the renowned Sleekit Beasties, finalists of several prestigious Scottish wedding awards, to the versatile Ceilidhonia and the vibrant Scott Leslie Wedding Band, your options for talented musicians are vast. Ceilidh dancing in Scotland is not just a tradition; it's a way of life, and we're here to guide you through the art of this spirited dance in the 21st century.


What is a ceilidh?


The term "ceilidh" originates from the Gaelic word for a social visit, and this enduring tradition owes its origins to both Scotland and Ireland. Ceilidhs were originally gatherings that encompassed much more than just dancing.

These communal events involved everything from storytelling to singing and spontaneous music-making - in essence, anything that could foster a sense of togetherness. Over time, ceilidhs gradually shifted towards a more dance-centric focus and have since become a beloved tradition at weddings, university graduations, corporate functions, and even school sports classes. Today, ceilidh dancing is the go-to method for infusing tradition and heritage into Scottish events, both within Scotland and across the globe.

The beauty of ceilidh dancing is its inclusivity. It doesn't matter where you come from or who you are; once the music starts, you'll find yourself reeling and twirling, breaking down social barriers to the lively tunes of fiddles and accordions. After a ceilidh, guests who were once strangers will be laughing and celebrating like old friends. It's a tried-and-true formula, and we're here to help you unlock its magic.

Most Popular Ceilidh Dances:


The world of ceilidh dancing offers an extensive array of dances to choose from, but we've compiled a list of the top three most requested wedding ceilidh dances for you to consider in 2023:


How to Dance Them:


In 2023, the essence of ceilidh dancing is enthusiasm, and even if you're not familiar with the steps, your willingness to participate is the key. Most ceilidh bands will feature a professional "caller" who will explain the dance before it begins and then guide you through the moves as you go. To get you started, here's an in-depth guide on how to dance the most popular wedding ceilidh dances:

1. Strip The Willow:

  • This energetic dance typically involves multiple sets of eight people. Find a dance partner and line up, ready to engage in some lively spinning.
  • The pairs at the top of the lines link arms and spin for eight counts. Then, they work their way down the lines, spinning each person with their left arm and linking arms with their partner for another spin.
  • This pattern continues until they reach the bottom, where they spin together for another eight counts. Afterward, the other partner does the same on the opposite side.
  • The dance repeats as each couple makes their way back to the top. Brace yourself for a dizzying experience!

2. Dashing White Sergeant:

  • The Dashing White Sergeant is a reel, a Scottish folk dance that emphasizes teamwork. It involves a group of six people who join hands in a circle and dance clockwise for eight beats.
  • Afterward, they dance anticlockwise for another eight beats and then split into two sets of three.
  • The person in the middle of each set spins and performs a "set" with the person on their right for four counts, followed by a spin for four counts.
  • They then repeat this process with the person on their left. Gripping with their elbow, the person in the middle spins each person alternately two times.
  • The group holds hands, faces the other set of three, and moves toward each other, stamping their feet in the middle and then going backward before finishing with a clap. It's a simple and sociable dance!

3. The Virginia Reel:

  • Although commonly referred to as an English country dance, the roots of The Virginia Reel are firmly in Scotland. The dance starts with two lines of people facing each other.
  • They come into the middle for four counts, then go back for four counts. Subsequently, they spin each other clockwise and anti-clockwise, do a do-si-do around each other, circle around each other back-to-back, and then go back to their places, repeating the do-si-do.
  • The couple closest to the stage gallops down the lines, between the other couples, and back up, spinning together at the top for four counts.
  • The couple then splits up, spinning the people in the opposite line to their own all the way to the bottom, spinning each other in the middle after each individual person, and then, crossing arms, side-step jump back up to the top, where they rejoin their lines.
  • The final part of the dance is "The March," where the top couple splits up, walks behind the backs of the people in their line, followed by everyone else, and creates an archway with their arms to allow all other couples to pass underneath, returning to their starting positions. The new top couple then starts the process again.

These dances may seem complex on paper, but rest assured, everyone quickly grasps the rhythm and flow of ceilidh dancing, diving headfirst into the celebration.

Elevating Your Ceilidh Experience:


If you're planning a wedding or any other event in 2023 and aspire to include an epic ceilidh, our ceilidh and covers bands are poised to deliver the finest Scottish ceilidh music imaginable. Beyond their exceptional musical talent, our bands bring an irresistible energy that is essential for a memorable ceilidh experience. So, whether you're looking to infuse your special day with true Scottish heritage or simply want to have a fantastic time, we encourage you to get in touch with us for a no-obligation inquiry. Let us help you make your event unforgettable with the magic of ceilidh dancing in 2023.

Ceilidh dancing continues to be a cherished tradition in Scotland, bridging the gap between generations and cultures. In 2023, it remains as vibrant and engaging as ever, offering an opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together and revel in the joy of dance. As we move forward, the beauty of ceilidh lies in its timelessness - a testament to the enduring power of music, community, and shared celebration. So, whether you're a seasoned ceilidh dancer or taking your first steps onto the dance floor, we invite you to join in the festivities and experience the magic of ceilidh dancing in 2023. Book your ideal ceilidh band for your wedding or event now.