The Ringerike Ceilidh & Barn Dance Band

This band does a bit of everything, with caller for dance, without caller for just music

Perfect for weddings and parties, this version of the band will give you a mix of Barn Dance & Ceilih music and dance. We play Irish, Scottish, English, American, Scandinavian and even a bit of Klezmer if you want. This is perfect for a mixed group of people at a wedding or party, as it gives something for everyone .....MORE about us

If you want a fun-filled evening that can include everyone old and young, with lots of dancing, plenty of laughs, and a relaxed sociable atmosphere, then the Ringerike Ceilidh and Barn Dance Band is just what you’re after. Tell us what sort of event and mood you’re looking for, and we can provide the music for you – and if you’ve never danced before, there’s no need to worry because our caller can guide you through, teach you the dances, tell you everything you need to know, and make sure everyone has a good time.

People say things like this about us:

“Thank you for playing at our ceilidh on Saturday. There was nothing but flowing compliments from the guests about your top quality performance. We loved your choice of pieces – traditional dances intermingled with some fun ones, and even a waltz number to regain a moment of calm. The evening was a huge success – a buzzing dance floor with peals of laughter - and we feel totally celebrated. (Evelyne, joint birthday celebration, November 2017)

Ringerike is a ceilidh or barn dance band that does a bit of everything, with something for everyone. Usually we play with a caller for people to dance, but we can also offer a band without caller and just play music to listen to.

 

All of the members of the band are trained musicians with lots of experience of ceilidh music along with a considerably wider musical background, and we can provide different combinations of musicians and instruments to suit your particular event and location. We have a huge range of music covering to cover Scottish Dances, traditional Irish ceilidhs, English, Welsh and American Barnd Dance and Heodown, sometimes with a few other nationalities thrown in too, and can cater for every type of group and event, from small to large numbers, and ranging from wedding receptions to parties of every sort and special seasonal occasions such as Burns Nights, St Patrick’s Day events, harvest celebrations and Christmas parties.

 

We normally play a mixture of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, English, and American folk music, but if you ask us when you book, we can slant our playing and dances specifically towards Irish, Scottish, American or English music if you have a particular preference. Whatever the music, our dances will be chosen so that they can easily be learned and danced by people who aren’t experts.

 

If you prefer music and dance with a more Scottish sound and feel, then you might want to consider booking our Scottish band Ceilidh Idealach - a more traditional Scottish Ceilidh Band playing not only well-known Scottish favourites for the dancing, but interspersing with a range of tunes to listen to including Scottish reels, strathspeys, and tunes from the Shetland Isles.

 

For a more Irish feel to the evening, have a look at our Irish-style band Coulan Sona, an experienced band which can capture the dynamic flow that is essential to traditional Irish music and dance. This is a lively band for an Irish ceilidh (ceili), which can really get your party going.

 

We can also offer a greater focus on English traditional music with our Hullabaloo English Barn Dance Band incorporating jigs, reels & hornpipes from the West Country to Northumbria played in true English style. Whether you call it a Ceilidh, Barn Dance or English Country Dance, is up to you – it will definitely be an evening of fun!

 

The particular feel of an American Barn Dance is created by the Licketysplit American Barn Dance Band , showing that American traditional Hoedown music is a wonderful and complex mixture of Irish, French, English, Italian, Jewish and other international influences - an ideal barn dance band for a wedding or party. (We can offer Jewish Klezmer music between dances, if Eastern European folk music is something that you would like to be included, but please let us know you would like this at the time you book, so we can include our Klezmer specialists in the band for your event.)

 

We once included a band that played a whole evening of Jane Austen (Regency Period) music, and although this band is no longer offered, Ringerike can include a few Regency period dances if requested at the time of booking (so that we can be sure to arrange for the appropriate caller and instrumental lineup). Similarly, we once offered a whole Thomas Harydy period Country Dance, featuring music from Hardy's English folk music collection (he was an excellent fiddle player and played in the church band and at Country Dances). If requested  at the time of booking, we can include some of these tunes.

Types of music we use:

Scottish dance music is able to draw from a large and colourful traditional culture, and Scotland is well known for its folk music. It is an important part of Scottish culture, and traditional music is often performed north of the border at all sorts of events including weddings, parties, festivals, funerals and civic events. However, it is also hugely popular throughout the world, in a wide variety of different styles of dance including country dancing and Highland dancing. Some of the more well-known Scottish dances include Strip the Willow, the Gay Gordons, the Dashing White Sergeant, the Highland Barn Dance, and a wide range of reels and strathspeys.

Irish dancing in some forms has become very well-known outside of Ireland, and particularly in the form of Irish step dance which in recent decades has been popularized by outfits such as Riverdance and is practised competitively in Ireland and elsewhere. However, ceili (ceilidh) dancing from Ireland has simpler footwork than the intricate step dances, emphasising the figures and formations of the dancing rather than the individual steps; it is much more of a social phenomenon and allows many people who are not experts to be involved in events. Some popular types of Irish dance include reels, hornpipes, jigs and slip jigs.

 

American folk dance music is sometimes called Contra dance and its content originates from a mixture of many countries including England, Scotland and France. Contra dance events are often found in most states of the U.S. and are sometimes called New England or Appalachian folk dances. Some well-known dance tunes that we use are Coming Round the Mountain, Cotton-Eyed Joe, and Skip to my Lou.

In addition to Scottish, Irish and American music we also feature dance music from other countries, and especially from other parts of the British Isles including England, Wales and the Isle of Man .

 

We have a wide range of music to listen to as well as the music we use for dancing. This includes a large number of folk tunes from all around the British Isles and much further afield including Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. If it is a Christmas party or other event around Christmas time, then we can do a couple of dances to traditional Christmas carols, played as folk dance tunes. Sometimes our music to listen to is of a quieter nature and gives people an opportunity to have a breather and maybe a sit down and a chat while we play something in the background. However, by no means all of our music to listen to is quiet, and we have a large number of lively tunes up our sleeve to keep the evening going with a swing. Some of our favourite tunes to listen to include a range of Scottish slow and quicker reels, Scandinavian waltzes, a couple of lively Irish jigs, Klezmer from Eastern Europe, and some traditional British hornpipes.

 

Types of dance we use

We usually start our evening with at least one circle dance, in which everyone stands in a big circle around the room (sometimes, if there are a lot of people in a big room, we’ll need to have two circles, one inside the other!) and everyone facing inwards, standing beside their partner. The tradition is that when partners stand together, and if one is a man and one is a woman, then the woman stands on her partner’s right. But our dances are inclusive of everyone and we don’t make the assumption that partners are mixed-sex couples (nor, indeed, that they know each other at all!) and the caller will explain what everyone needs to do, irrespective of who’s standing where. Circle dancing is a very old tradition and has a place in many cultures all around the world. It is thought to be one of the oldest known ways of dancing in in communities and brings a sense of togetherness and group experience. It's a great way to start an evening because anyone can get involved, everybody is equal in the dance, and because of the way people are arranged, everyone can see everyone else.

Set dancing is a term often given to a particular style of Irish dancing, but in our ceilidh events we tend to use the term “set dance” to refer to any sort of dance in which two rows of people face one another down the room. Traditionally this would be a row of men and a row of women, with each person facing their partner across the room - although again in more modern times and with different combinations of people who might be attending the party or whatever the event is, we would certainly not be assuming that everybody is in a man-woman couple. Set dances we use include Galopede, Wee Willie, the Cumberland Reel, Jack's the Lad, the Oxo Reel and of course Strip the Willow.

 

Hornpipes originated from Ireland, Scotland and England and are often associated with traditional activities of sailors from days gone by. In the past sometimes they have been performed by a single person but for the purpose of ceilidhs, hornpipes are danced in sets with one row of dancers facing another. One of our favourite hornpipes for ceilidh dancing is called Clopton Bridge.

 

Square dances come from all over the world but are often associated with folk dance traditions in America. The square dance is generally a dance for four couples (eight people in total) arranged in a square shape with one couple on each side of the square facing inwards. Our favourite square dances include the Celebration Square and Coming Round the Mountain.

 

A few of our dances don't really fit into any of the above categories. One of our most hilarious dances which we sometimes do towards the end of an evening is called “the Dishrag” and it involves groups of two couples who do a number of simple moves such as dancing in a circle and also one more complicated move known as “wringing out the dishrag” which generally leads to a good deal of laughter - and jubilation when the dancers get it right!

A typical evening (or afternoon!)

Usually the members of the band arrive around 45 minutes before the event is due to start to give us time to set up and do a soundcheck to make sure everything is working perfectly and that the sound is properly balanced and at the right level for the size of the room and the number of people. It’s fine for there to be other people in the room at the time while we set up, and even for guests to be arriving – we can get on with it ourselves quietly and without fuss, without needing any particular help from our hirer (although it is nice to be offered drinks!). All we need to set up is a table behind where the band are going to play, so that we can put our amplifier and mixer on it, and a normal 13 amp power socket not too far away (although we do have extension leads). If there’s a stage area in the venue (often the case in village halls), that is sometimes quite useful because it means that everyone dancing can see the band clearly and there is no danger of dancers colliding with the band or their equipment. But having said that, a stage isn’t necessary and we often just set ourselves up at one end of the hall in a suitable space on the same floor as the dancers.

One thing we do occasionally find, especially in hotel venues, is that the manager at the venue has set out a temporary wooden dance floor on top of a carpeted surface in the room. This is great for discos but it never turns out to be a good idea for ceilidh dancing, where people will be dancing up and down the room: inevitably, the wooden temporary floor constitutes a trip hazard and the dancers are much better off without it.

Some more information about the band setting up, and useful advice on saving money by avoiding the need for an early set-up, is given on our help page, Three ways to save mone.

 

Once the event has started, we usually get going with some easy dances that everyone can have a go at. Our caller always gives clear and full instructions so that no-one needs to know how to do anything in advance – everybody can join in straight away without worrying about whether they will know what to do. Often we’ll start with a circle dance that any number of people can participate in, and sometimes if it’s a wedding reception it’s nice to put the bride and groom to dance in the middle of the circle (with their consent, of course!) so that everyone can see them but in a way that might be less threatening to them than a more individual “first dance”. Then we’ll move into a selection of other dances which could include set dances, with each dancer facing their partner in two straight rows down the room, square dances involving four couples in each square set, or other types of dance.

Usually we’ll do two or three dances in succession and then give the dancers a little break to get their breath back and go to get a drink. (We hope they come back to dance a few minutes later!) At this point, the band will play a folk tune or two for people to listen to – and this is where you might hear not only music from the more usual sources (Scotland, Ireland and England, mostly) but perhaps something from elsewhere in the world – for example, we have a popular set of Scandinavian waltzes, and occasionally delve into some Klezmer tunes from Eastern Europe. Alternatively, we might play a slower tune or two, such as a Scottish waltz, which people can dance to in a more traditional style, without needing the caller. (Often this is popular with older guests if the event has mixed age groups.)

Typically the first set of dances with the occasional tune to listen to lasts about an hour and a quarter, at which point there will be a short break of half an hour or so. At most events this is the opportunity for food to be served, and during the break the band gets a rest and we play a selection of folk tunes over our PA equipment to provide background music.

Once we’ve started again the caller might be making some decisions as to whether to include some slightly more complex dances (although to be honest, they’re all pretty straightforward, and of course the caller is always there to give complete and clear instructions to the dancers) and at the end of the second half of the evening’s dancing (which usually lasts another hour and a quarter) there will always be one or two dances that any number of people can get involved in so that hopefully there’s the opportunity for everyone to dance and no-one has to miss out on anything.

When everything’s finished, the band packs up all of their equipment (which usually takes about 20 minutes) and everyone’s ready to go home, having hopefully had an enjoyable, energetic and sociable evening.

Of course, not every event goes exactly according to this outline – it all depends what you want. Sometimes, hirers will only want two or 2½ hours instead of three (especially if they are trying to dovetail some ceilidh dancing with other activities); sometimes the break for food may happen at different times, depending on the programme for the day and perhaps the requirements of the venue; sometimes food is served at the beginning before the dancing begins, in which case we might play for a shorter time and/or have a shorter break for the band in the middle. It all depends on what you want and what’s going to work best for your event. We are always happy to find out what’s best for you and work with you to provide something that meets your needs.

 

Instruments and band lineups

We can offer a range of band lineups to suit different needs, depending on your budget, the size of the venue, the number of people who will be dancing, and the style of occasion you are envisaging. Our most common lineups feature either three or four band members, and usually with a caller, although we can also provide bands to play background music just to listen to (for example, as background to a meal, drinks reception, village show or wedding reception) in which case there would be no caller.

In our three-piece band with caller, usually there would be a lead instrument playing the tune (such as a fiddle) and at least one rhythm instrument such as guitar. Occasionally we might use, instead of one or both of these, an accordion which is able to provide both tune and rhythm. In addition, usually our caller will be someone who can play another instrument as well (although not necessarily at the same time as calling!) so the band is likely to incorporate a flute or whistle and/or a bass guitar in addition to the basic lead and rhythm instruments. So typically the sort of lineup you might see in one of our three-piece bands with caller could be fiddle, guitar and bass, or fiddle, flute/whistle and guitar.

Three-piece bands without a caller, playing music to listen to rather than for dancing, would often have a similar lineup of instruments, so for example, fiddle with guitar and flute/whistle or accordion, fiddle and bass.

A four-piece band with caller gives a little bit more variety in instrumental combinations and usually gives the opportunity to have two melody instruments and two rhythm instruments – so typically you might find fiddle, flute/whistle, guitar and bass, with one of those instrumentalists operating as a caller.

Finally, occasionally we provide a five-piece band (four-piece plus caller) in which case there would be the sort of four-piece band mentioned above but with a separate caller, so that all of the members of the band can be playing all the time to give the fuller and more varied sound but still with the caller available to lead all of the dances.

Where we play 

Our band, with members based mostly in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, has played for literally hundreds of barn dances & ceilidhs throughout the “Three Counties” (Worcestershire, Herefordshire & Gloucestershire) and in the surrounding county areas. We will normally travel up to an hour and a half from our base in Malvern, but sometimes we have gone further. Venues range from large hotels and corporate venues through to village halls and marquees (in the summer) - and occasionally we actually do a barn dance in a real barn! Follow the links for details of venues we’ve played in in Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, the West Midlands, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, North Somerset and South and Central Wales.

 

The main thing about every venue is that there needs to be enough room for dancing (as well as some room for the band to set up and play) – if the room is too big for the number of guests, that’s not too much of a problem (although in extreme cases, a small number of people in a huge hall can feel a bit strange!) but it’s certainly difficult if there are a lot of people to fit into a very small space. It’s nice to have a bar in the same room as the dancing, and some tables for people to sit and watch, or chat – we sometimes find that if the bar is a long way away in a separate room, people can tend to head for the bar, get settled there with friends and not come back, which can mean that the number of dancers dwindles a bit.

It’s always helpful if there is a convenient entrance (sometimes a back or side door) near to the location where the band will be setting up and playing, and near also to somewhere where we can park our car to get the equipment in quickly and easily, and without fuss. With that said, sometimes that’s just not possible and we can carry our equipment in by whatever means is the easiest.

We sometimes are asked to play outside in the open air, and although very occasionally it’s possible if suitable arrangements are made for cover and shelter (and a power supply), it’s only ever realistic in the summer, and even then, in this country, you can’t rely on the weather. In general, to be honest, it’s usually not a good idea for a variety of reasons - more information on this is given on our help page-outdoor ceilidhs and barn dances

 

Our name

We sometimes get asked where our rather unusual name, Ringerike, comes from. It’s pronounced “ring – a – rike” (well, we pronounce it that way!) and it’s a traditional district north of Oslo in Eastern Norway – more importantly, it is the name of an historic Scandinavian artistic style, which (if you look carefully) you can see referenced in the artwork on the front of our music folders. 

So, to summarise, Ringerike describe themselves as a ceilidh and barn dance band. Yes both, so what is the difference between a Ceilidh & Barn Dance you may ask? The band do a  A Mixture of music and dance, covering the Scottish Ceilidh Tradition , the some of the tunes that would be part of a Traditional Irish Ceilidhs, plus of course  English & Welsh traditions to cover the British Isles, but not leaving out Traditional American Barn Dance & Hoedown which in some sense is a derivative of all the British traditional folk music mixed with French, Jewish Klezmer and Eastern European.

 

Here is some general information to help you organise your event, but there is a lot more made available to you if you book us:

 

FAQs

 

Can we use the band's PA

 

Can the band set up earlier in the day

 

Can the band move during the performance

 

Ceilidhs and Barn Dances and discos

 

How much space is needed for a ceilidh or barn dance

 

Insurance & PAT testing

 

Band Setup

 

Outdoor Ceilidhs and Barn Dances

 

Playing without amplification

 

Line Dancing

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