Scottish Ceilidhs

For a Traditional All Scottish Ceilidh, SELECT:

For a Scottish emphasis but with a mixture of other music (Irish, English, American), for variety, SELECT:



There are many reasons why someone may decide that they want a Scottish Ceilidh Band. In some cases they do really want an all out pure Traditional Scottish Ceilidh Band, but in many cases they would really be better to go for a Ceilidh Band that can do a lot of Scottish music and dance, but can also throw in some Irish, English and American stuff for variety. So, which applies to you? Here are the options, and scroll down to read more:


REASON 1: you are an expert

REASON 2: you have been to some Scottish Ceilidhs

REASON 3: you think a Ceilidh has to be Scottish

REASON 4: you really enjoy some of the Scottish Ceilidh tunes and dances, but like other music too


Read on…..


REASON 1: you are an expert

You and all (or at least the majority) of your guests have done a lot of Scottish dancing before, (see a Brief History of Scottish Dancing) including dances like the Eightsome Reel, the Reel of 51st, the Duke of Perth and the like, and perhaps some strathspeys etc. You will have been to Scottish Dance Classes, been a member of a Scottish Dance Club, and will know all the dances fairly well, using the caller just as a reminder.


If this describes you and your guests, then the traditional Ceilidh Idealach Scottish Ceilidh Band is the band for you. They can play any tunes you would like to dance to in strict Scottish style BUT be sure to forewarn us at the time of booking.

Why? Because there are Thousands of Scottish Ceilidh Tunes and Hundreds of Scottish Ceilidh dances, and we are not going to be able to produce just anything on the night. BUT forewarned:


  1.  we can get hold of the tunes you want (or indeed, on occasions we have been asked to play Scottish tunes specially composed for the occasion) and
  2. our caller can make sure they are familiar with your specially requested dances.


Also, only certain of our callers and musicians would play for such a specialist event, so at the time of booking, make it clear that you are wanting an entirely Scottish Ceilidh or Reeling Event, and tell us any special tunes and dances you want. Without this, we may organise the wrong ceilidh band and caller line-up for you.


Also, please please be sure that this is really the kind of event that you want and your guests can cope with. We have done many wonderful events of this kind BUT we have also been asked to do events of this kind, only to find that the dancers don’t know the dances well enough. There is a limit to the complexity of what can be taught to non-experts on the night and trying to do unsuitable dances gets tedious and discouraging for the dancers. Under such circumstances we would back off the complex dances and do much simpler dances such as Strip the Willow, St Bernard’s Waltz etc.


An even more difficult situation occurs when a few people know the dances well but the majority don’t. We would then do easy dances some of the time and throw in the occasional difficult dance just for the experts to do. But we have had the occasional situation where the organiser has insisted on doing the difficult dances and most people have got fed up and grumpy.


So, a full Reeling Event can be tremendous fun if everyone is up to it, but if everyone isn’t pretty experienced, look at one of our other options.


REASON 2: you have been to some Scottish Ceilidhs

Many of the people who book our Scottish Ceilidh Band have been to a few ceilidhs in Scotland, or perhaps have been to Edinburgh, Glasgow or St Andrews Universities etc. Even in Scotland (where our fiddle player lived and played for 15 years), most events stick to the well known and relatively easy to do dances like Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, Strip the Willow etc.


These kinds of dances have the advantage that they can be learned and enjoyed even by people who have done no or little dancing, provided that there are some guests who are more familiar with the dances and who they can watch and get the hang of things from. You don’t have to have the complicated dances to have a real Scottish style Ceilidh. Some years ago, we played for an event where most of the dancers had been to Edinburgh University and had belonged to their Scottish Dance Society. They even provided the caller (we just played the music for the dancing). We thought we would see a rare selection of show dances, but they did less of a range of dances that we would do for a General Scottish event, repeating Strip the Willow three times in the evening!


There is also a question of whether it is an East Coast or a West Coast Scottish Ceilidh that is being imagined by the person who books us. They can (though not always) be very different. The East Coast tends to be the home of the complicated country dances, in its finest form it can be a cross between formation ballroom dancing and ballet. Tempo of tunes have to be “just so” (one old Scottish Dance Manual specifies the speed of different kinds of dance to an accuracy of half a beat per minute!) The West Coast Ceilidh tends to be more free and easy, faster and wilder. (I was talking to a band on the Island of Sky a couple of years ago, and they looked down on East Coast Ceilidh Bands and Ceilidhs as being finicky and lacking excitement. Their idea of the ideal tempo was to start quite fast, then get faster and faster until either all the dancers fell over or the band expired! Of course and East Coast Scottish Ceilidh Band may well view this as crude and vulgar).

So, what kind of band are we? BOTH. We play to the audience we have, and play very precisely and militaristically if that’s the way people are dancing, or go wild and woolly if people are up for it. It’s up to you!


If this is the style of Scottish Ceilidh you want, then book the Ceilidh Idealach Scottish Ceilidh Band, who will play just traditional Scottish tunes for you to dance to and to listen to, but with dances that everyone can manage and enjoy.


REASON 3: you think a Ceilidh has to be Scottish

No, a Ceilidh is not a specifically Scottish event, rather it is Celtic, so you can have a Scottish Ceilidh or an Irish Ceilidh. In fact, the term is used fairly loosely, and people often think of a ceilidh including English and American tunes and dances as well (even though it would be more normal to talk about an American Barn Dance or an English Barn Dance or English Country Dance). The Welsh have their own word for it, a Twmpath, but a country dance in Wales is just as likely to be called a Ceilidh or a Barn Dance. (We do have Welsh tunes and dances to, if you’re interested.)


So, if you are wanting a FUN evening with some Scottish music and dance, but also American, Irish, English, the band you really want is the Ringerike Ceilidh & Barn Dance Band. If you want a  Scottish leaning to the evening, let us know and we will do that, but this band will always throw in some other kinds of music and dance to give variety and something for every taste, and will always do the easier Scottish dances.


REASON 4: you really enjoy some of the Scottish Ceilidh tunes and dances, but like other music too

For this you want to book the Ringerike Ceilidh & Barn Dance Band, telling us that you perhaps want a Scottish leaning to the evening, so that we make sure that we include the old favourites like Strip the Willow and plenty of Scottish tunes, but also do other kinds of music and dance to add variety. We chose the music and dances on the night to suit the mood of the event. If people go wild to an American Square Dance, we would do a bit more American, or if they get up and jig spontaneously to some Irish tunes, then we play more of that. Basically, whatever gets people going on the night!

Still not sure? Read more about Burns Night and Scottish Ceilidhs....

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