Happy memories from our childhood can be really powerful. They take you back to a time when you experienced a strong positive emotion. And this is what a ceilidh does for me. I grew up in Lanark, in Scotland, and every year my family went for a weekend with my Dad’s sister and their cousins, and all their children. We stayed in a place called Otterburn Hall which is in the North East. For us kids, it was a magical place. It was a big old pile in the country with peacocks in the garden, a boating lake, a croquet lawn, and most importantly a big dance floor and on the Saturday night there was always a ceilidh.
I loved it. Having music from a live band, with one of the band members calling the instructions for each dance, made it exciting and dynamic. Everyone joined in, young and old, and people would dance with anyone and everyone. For some reason, the music and the dancing breaks down the usual British reserve and people who don’t know each other will be laughing and joking with each other while they bumbled around the dance floor with enthusiasm, if not skill.
I often say that ceilidhs tick a lot of the happiness generating boxes – you are with people, in fact touching them by holding hands or getting into a dancing hold; you get a lot of exercise; there’s lively music; you are learning; and there’s invariably a lot of laughing as people head off in the wrong direction after being swung round and round a few times.
There’s a range of dances, some for couples, but mostly they are for groups of 6 or 8 people. The steps and movements aren’t complicated and are repeated so you’ll get the hang of it quickly. The caller is always there to remind you what to do, and others in the group will put you right.
I loved it as a child and I love it now – the exuberance of the dancing is a thing of beauty!
If you’ve never had the chance to experience one, then get yourself along to one of ours. You’ll find details here.