First Sundays and a Scottish Ceilidh


The Roaring Kelly Band (that’s us) plays the first Sunday of each month at the premier Irish Pub of South Florida, Tim Finnegan’s in Delray Beach from 8:00 p.m.  until 10:00 p.m.  Our next engagement is Sunday, October 6, 2014.  We’ll be blasting out our best sets of Irish rebel tunes, viscious reels, high-stepping jigs, and more.  Last time we played, we were joined by some lovely step dancers from the Aranmore Academy of Irish Dance.  We hope they’ll put on their dancing shoes and make another appearance.  The crowd loves ’em and so do we!

Speaking of dance, the Croí na Céilí Band performs for a Scottish Ceilidh on Friday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 on November 15, at Lakeside Presbyterian, 4601 S. Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach.  We’ll be playing while the lovely Rinthy Aman who calls the dances. Rinthy calls the dances for the Scottish American Society of South Florida in Broward County and we’re fortunate to have her with us for this event.  Our thanks as well to Reverend Nathan McConnell for inviting us to play.  Besides the usual fare of reels, jigs, and hornpipes, we’ll feature well known Scottish tunes for the dances like The Gay Gordon’s and The Dashing White Sergeant, and other marches, hornpipes and strathspeys familiar to our Celtic brethren from the heather and highlands.

I’ll wager you’re curious about the difference between Irish and Scottish dancing.  While I couldn’t find much regarding ceili (or ceilidh) dancing, Erin Korth has published a wonderful discussion of Irish step dance and the Scottish Highland dance in the Haverford College blog, The Celtic Fringe.  Here’s an excerpt:

Ireland and Scotland are both influenced heavily by Celtic music, and their traditional musics are composed mainly by fiddles, bagpipes, whistles, and bodhrans (a small drum). While it is easy to find compilations of ‘Irish’ or, more broadly, ‘Celtic’ music, it is not very easy to find an album labeled as specifically ‘Scottish’ music. On that note, Irish music has undergone a sort of revival (likely spurred on by Riverdance and Michael Flatley) that definitively Scottish music has not, and modern versions of traditional Irish music supplemented by synthesizers, drums, and electric guitars and violins is very popular.

While I couldn’t find a great deal about specific differences between music between the two countries (although it is often noted that while their music is very similar, Celtic music aficionados say there are marked differences between them), I took Irish dance throughout middle and high school, and can speak a bit on the differences between Irish Step and Scottish Highland dance (there is another type of Scottish dance called Scottish Country dance, but it has more in common with ballroom dancing than Irish Step, and is not exactly considered a “folk dance”).

While there are similar aspects in Scottish Highland and Irish Step dance, a big difference between the two is the hands. Hands are often either on the hips or in the air in Scottish Highland dancing. In Irish dancing, arms are almost always kept at the sides, and only sometimes placed on the hips for certain steps or effect. The exceptions are céilí dancing (group dancing, when you would entwine your arms with other people), and, as the joke goes, Michael Flatley. My dance instructor always used to say that the arms are kept at the sides in Irish dancing because when the English were in control of Ireland and trying to squash out Irish culture, people would keep their arms stiff so that if an English soldier happened to walk by the house and look in the window, he wouldn’t be able to tell that the people inside were dancing, as only their feet were moving. I don’t know how true that actually is, but it sounds plausible to me.



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