How to Dance to Ceilidh Music


The ceilidh is a beautiful traditional Irish and Scottish gathering. It is a place for people to come together and listen to their favourite type of music as well as get to have a fin time associating with each other. They listen to traditional music and very often they will dance as well. The dances that are performed at these gatherings are called set dances, they have set steps that are done by couples or groups of people.  There are so many dances and steps to go along with them that it can often get overwhelming. Here are a few of the best ceilidh dances and the basic steps to them so that you can dance along should you be at a ceilidh gathering soon.

The Britannia Two-Step

Dance in threes around the room with a man between two ladies and in an anti-clockwise direction. They then intertwine through each other to the music and it can be done slower or faster music.

The Canadian or Highland Barn Dance

Couples go around the room facing anti clockwise with the ladies standing to the right of the man, they then dance between each other and go between couples.

The Circassian Circle

A large circle is formed around the room, ladies are to the right of their partner.

The Cumberland Square Eight

This dance has four couples that are arranged in a square. Ladies of course to the right of the man.

The Dashing White Sergeant

Three people facing another three gongs around the room. A man between two ladies or vice a versa with a lady between two men.

The Eightsome Reel

This dance also has four couples around a square. And as always, the lady stands to the right of the man. They then interchange their positions throughout the dance, it is a very lively dance and is danced to upbeat music.

The Flying Scotsman

There are several variations of this game, it is a very popular dance and over the years several different cultures have developed their own version. The most basic of forms though has four couples, the men on the right and the woman on the left if viewed from the band and going longwise. The men intertwine around the women and the dance has a few more intricate steps that follow, and it is typically danced to lively music.

There are literally hundreds of dances that can be done to traditional Irish and Scottish music, and many of them have complicated steps that can take years to master, these few dances however, are simple and easy to learn and will give you a taste of the traditional dances. If you want to learn how to dance but are unsure where to start you can also find a local pub or club that teaches the steps. Many times, they will have instructions that will go through the steps with you and guide you along as the music plays. This is a great place to go for beginners.