Javi’s Journals – Surviving the Ceilidh experience!
Welcome to the second post of Javi’s Journals at Aberdeen International Youth Festival! I am very happy to introduce all of you to the wonderful world of the… get ready to read this word… CEILIDH (pronounced kay-lee). I must say above all that if you like men dancing in skirts (well, kilts), energetic Celtic music, and dancing for hours with many different people then a ceilidh is a dream for you! Where Scottish tradition is kept alive even in a world dominated by iPhones and selfies!
Until I came to live to Aberdeen, I had never even heard of Ceilidhs – (or Cèilidhean, its original plural) These traditional social gatherings in Scotland which include Gaelic folk music, dance and often lots of food and drink usually for a celebration or event.
Last week I had the pleasure to attend ‘The Spring Shindig’, hosted by some Robert Gordon University Event Management students, in aid of the Marie Curie Charity which provides care and support to patients with terminal illnesses.
AND I thrilled to announce that they raised £3,879.34! Well done, guys!
Even though Cèilidhs used to be just social gatherings in its origins, with no need for music and dance, nowadays it is not possible to think of a ceilidh without a live band!
Therefore, I have managed to identify three main elements that really make up a ceilidh:
- Firstly, the band, which plays the tunes and, very importantly, calls the steps for dance.
- Secondly, the crowd, which performs the dances, sometimes with hilarious results!
- Finally, the combination of the music and dance themselves, usually very old and unchanged, passed down through many generations.
But also, one of the most unique elements in a Scottish Cèilidh is the remarkable Kilt. Sometimes foreigners in Scotland don’t realise that the traditional item is still actually worn, and for us it is still quite surprising to see. I must say that a ceilidh, together with a Scottish wedding, are some of the best events to see people wearing kilts, and most importantly, to be immersed in the traditional style of celebration.
And now the question is, are they wearing anything underneath the kilt? We will try to answer that in another occasion!
Despite seeming quite crazy and random for the first time ceilidh-goer and an inexperienced dancer, there is actually very clear direction given by the band at the beginning, and everybody has an assigned role during all the dance, which is mostly repeated until the tune ends. It can be quite confusing at first, so it definitely helps if you dance with a more experienced person.
The thing I love most about Ceilidh’s (and I am not even exaggerating) – is that it’s quite normal that by the end of the night to have danced, at least for a short time, with every single person in the room!…There is no denying that this is an interesting tradition!
Finally, I must warn you that this is a sweaty and tiring dance, consisting of hours of jumping, dancing and laughing. So, despite wearing your best clothes and taking your time to make a nice hairstyle, everything is guaranteed to be messed up in about two songs. But the best part is that nobody cares!
Before finishing, I would like to say thanks to the organisers, and congratulations for the amazing amount raised for Marie Curie.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed my ceilidh experience and, most importantly, I hope it has inspired you to attend a ceilidh soon! There are plenty of opportunities going on in Aberdeen that both support a cause and for fun! – Let’s keep this wonderful tradition alive!
Javi’s Journals blog is written by Javier Buron, working as a volunteer at Aberdeen International Youth Festival from February 2017.
Javier moved to Aberdeen in 2015 to complete his studies with the MSc Corporate Communication and Public Affairs at Robert Gordon University, after his BA in Journalism at Valladolid, Spain. He has worked as a guitarist for six years and as a journalist in Spain before coming to Aberdeen to study.« Back