What is a ceilidh?

One of the questions we get asked a lot is what is a ceilidh? What happens at a ceilidh night? Why can’t I pronounce the word ‘ceilidh’. Actually that’s 3 questions but you get the drift

The word ‘ceilidh is a Gaelic word – as is skean duh (the wee knife you have in your sock when you wear a kilt, or go drinking in Kilburn).  Gaelic is a beautiful language, full of poetry, romance and unpronounceable words.  

It not just southern softies that have difficulty, anyone who has not grown up with the language or invested a good few hours in study is generally baffled by the words and how to pronounce them. The main reason for this is the limited amount of letters in the Gaelic alphabet –  a à b c d e è f g h i ì l m n o ò p r s t u ù which means that to make some sounds you have to put various letters together (bh ch dh fh gh ll mh ng nn ph rr sh th). 

So getting back to the word Ceilidh it means ‘gathering’ in Gaelic and refers to the days before Tesco inhabited every street corner and WWW stood for Wullie’s Wonderful Whisky. 

Back in the day, you’d pop round to a pal’s hoose, meet yer mates and have a blether, sing a song, tell a story or have a wee dance (space permitting). It was fun, informal and a laugh. 

So how do you bring that into our Smart phone addicted age?

Well at the Ceilidh Club we have a live band with a caller who lets you know the steps. You don’t have to be steeped in Gaelic culture at the start of the evening (although you will be by the end). 

The band will take you through all the traditional dances that you might find at a wedding: Gay Gordon, 8-some reel, Strip the Willow. All that is required of you is to get stuck in and have a laugh.  It’s not serious, we celebrating culture by your efforts and at the end of the night we sing Auld Lang Syne. You can find out the words and what it means here . Auld Lang Syne was written by Robert Burns and you can find more of his poetry here.

We particularly like the fact that we have people from all over the world coming to our events. They are wonderfully multicultural and we are honoured by so many people bringing their culture together with ours and enhancing the evening. 

When we can (at Burns night, but also some other nights) we’ll have someone signing, playing the bagpipes or reciting poetry. This generally happens in the band’s break.

The most important thing is that you have a great time. Our goal is to provide the 3 best hours of entertainment in London each night we’re on.  We’ll let you be the judge of that, so do let’s us know, we love to hear your feedback.

So next time someone asks ‘What is a ceilidh’ you’ll be able to give them chapter and verse. If you are looking for a ceilidh to go to then check out our dates