Specialist organisers of barn dance bands, ceilidh bands and folk/dance/concert groups throughout the UK

© 2018 Jigs 'n' Reels

Jigs 'n' Reels, 'Homeleigh', Claphill Lane, Rushwick, Worcester WR2 5TP

Call or Text brief enquiry to 0788 788 7917

English Ceilidhs

An ENGLISH ceilidh? - surely, ceilidhs are Scottish or Irish? NOT ANY MORE!

English Ceilidh (E-Ceilidh) might sound an odd term - but it goes far beyond social display dancing and 'tea with the vicar on the lawn'! Yes, the dances used are rooted in English Country Dance tradition - many of the dance patterns go back to the dances of yesteryear which you may have done at school in those 'country dance' classes. But the music is something else! The dances are simple BUT - the music is designed to get you to 'lift them legs' following a more pounding, rhythmic, 'lumpier' style of music than that usually associated with the 'smoother' Scottish style or 'faster' Irish or Hoe-down American music.

Around the 1970's,a number of bands started to emerge in England - they took many of the 'English Country Dance' tunes and gave them a new vitality, a new emphasis which encouraged dancers to dance/step (rather than walk) to the simple patterns. What was once considered almost 'stately' in style became exuberant, bursting with energy !

Musically, many of these new style of bands use 'squeezeboxes' (principally melodeons) as key instruments backed by strings (fiddles, mandolins, guitars etc) and, importantly, bass sounds (bass guitar, brass, percussion of varying sorts) – not to mention keyboards or woodwind instruments - to create an uplifting, danceable style of music, which has been greatly elaborated by many various bands to this day. And influences of world music such as jazz, ska, reggae, African etc are also being absorbed into English Ceilidh music to help make the dancing uplifting but without making the dance moves difficult. All leads to a very 'sweaty' night! Music that befits our increasingly cosmopolitan nation!

Why English? Well, the dances haven't changed enormously. (English/Irish/Scottish/American country dance still share many of the same patterns/moves) and the actual term 'Ceilidh' (being a Gaelic word) has, in all honesty, been hi-jacked by the English Ceilidh movement since most people in the British Isles associate ‘ceilidhs’ with traditional type dancing. But E-ceilidh music is played to encourage ‘dancing’ or simple stepping – as opposed to walking complicated figures/patterns. E-Ceilidh is, then, something of a relative new idiom – it’s saying…….’let’s dance, let rip - to simple figures where the music drives the night’!

Many of our bands have progressed through this relatively ‘young’ tradition and consider themselves as E-Ceilidh bands in a different mould to the traditional Scottish and Irish bands. Though, of course, it won’t stop them nicking some of the Celtic tunes for dancing – but they give them a different ‘treatment’!

AND some of the E-Ceilidh bands are just as equally at home playing traditional Celtic music in a traditional style when it suits the event!
Never forget – good musicians (and callers) are adaptable and willing, in most cases, to put their own personal preferences aside to make sure that you have the right music and atmosphere for your night! BUT, if your night is crying out for ‘bouncy’ (did I really say that?) music, then E-Ceilidh bands will make you wish that you had cancelled your gym membership!