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  • Writer's pictureFairgreen Ceilidh

What's the difference between Ceilidh, Barndance, Hoedown, Reeling Party

Ceilidh or Barndance or Hoedown

​​​Strictly speaking Ceilidh (besides being difficult to spell and pronounce - (its 'Kaylee' by the way)) is a Scots Gaelic word for an informal gathering or party where there is music and dancing. In other words a traditional 'knees-up'. Ceili is the Irish Gaelic version - pronounced Seely.

In England it looks like Barndance might have been superseded by the supersexy sounding eCeilidh (English Ceilidh) or has that been superseded by the even more supersexy term iCeilidh!!!! - might have made the last one up.

These days in England most Barn Dances or Ceilidhs can be a glorious fusion of traditional country social dances from just about anywhere and anytime with similarly eclectic choice of tunes - ancient and modern. Hoedown definately American with a more American sounding set of tunes to my mind but probably very similar dances. They are all terms for a social event with fun dancing and music. If the dances and music are enjoyable who cares where they come from or what the terminology is?

What's so great about a barn dance or ceilidh.

When 'I wurra lad' growing up in Lancashire back in the 70's at high school the PE teachers had devised an alternative form of torture - which most of the class thought was worse than cross country running in the rain - and it was called Country Dancing. Out would come the Jimmy Shand records and we would do The Gay Gordon's and Strip the Willow......... funny thing was I really enjoyed it and I bet the other students did too! Not that we would admit. Not only did it give us a legitimate reason for getting close to the opposite sex there was something about the moving about in time to music that really made me feel good. The repetition of the rhythmic movements, once you get the hang of them, can be quite hypnotic. Just moving yourself about the dance floor with others gets the feel good endorphins racing around your system.

Find out about the sorts of dances and music we use on the next page.


What we do is provide a mixture of easy 'traditional' dances for your participation and pleasure to what we think are damn good tunes - all from The British Isles, Europe and America. Most involve having a partner - either the same one throughout the dance or, to add to the excitement, a change of partner. This is how you get to meet and mix with new people! who knows what might happen!

Dance formations are commonly longways sets, circles, round the room couple dances, square sets and some non-partner dances. These different formations or 'sets' make for a varied evening. You don't need to have any previous knowledge of all this - it all gets explained!

How do you know what to do?

More often than not the majority of guests at a wedding or party have never been to a country dance or ceilidh. We assume that is the case and so the caller in the band carefully explains the dance from scratch - walking everyone through it 2 or 3 times before launching you off into the real thing with the music. Generally most dances don't have any fancy footwork - if you can do ring-a-ring-a roses and gallop like a 5 year old you're half way there. The music will tell you what to do!

But you're not left to your own devices - the caller will continue to guide you as the dance progresses but before you know it you'll probably be doing it all on your own - they really can be that simple!

Having said that there's just as much fun in getting it wrong as there is in doing it right - something which is more likely than ever at most parties! It will be fun either way!

We have a lot of dances to choose from so we make sure the dances match the experience of the dancers - from complete beginners to experts.

We've got loads of great simple dances for novices - most 7 or 8 year olds pick them really quickly! as well as more difficult ones for the experienced.

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