Ceili dances were enjoyed at house parties and corner road gatherings in the rural country sides. Decades later, they are still danced in Ireland and have moved to the United States – and even here in the Lehigh Valley. These traditional country folk dances have a follow the leader pattern that new dancers can pickup on their first attempt. At any ceili, the dance caller will teach the basic 3's, 7's, jig step, and ceili swing steps at the start of the event. After the basic steps are covered, a dance pattern is walked through slowly at first. Then music adds to the real time dance with others. Another dance pattern will be walked through slowly again, and then another each with the opportunity to dance the pattern a few times with live musicians. Ceilis feature jigs, reels, hornpipes and waltzes. It’s suitable to all ages, so bring the entire family along. You’ll want to wear cool lightweight clothing - or layers so you can peel when things warm up. Leather soled shoes that glide are preferable; as sneakers tend to stick. If your hip creaks and you'd just like to watch from the sidelines, that's ok too. But I can tell you from experience, there are a few elders in our community that would put any wall flower to shame.
There’s a group in the Lehigh Valley that currently leads monthly Ceilis. They are called The West End Ceili Group. We’re proud to partner with the West End Ceili in our social dancing portion of the Celtic Classic. And while we’re excited to bring this feature back to our next festival, listeners may want to know where they can find an opportunity to learn more about ceili dancing by actually trying it before the festival.
If you are interested in learning more about ceili dancing, look for links on the Celtic Classic facebook page. For the Celtic Cultural Alliance, I’m Silagh White. Slainte!