Traditional Scottish Ceilidh Dancing

Many traditional dancing styles have lasted through the ages, being passed down from one member of the community to another through focused dance classes or at celebrations like weddings and birthdays. Folk dances mean different things to different people, but they are generally performed in celebration of a happy occasion, as an opportunity for people to socialise together or, more recently, as a form of friendly competition. In Scotland, ceilidh dancing is common at all sorts of social gatherings and is taught in schools and at dedicated ceilidh clubs. All are welcome to learn, whether they have Scottish ancestry or not, but many of the dances have traditional significance and did originate in Scottish communities. Although similar dances play an important part in the Irish community located just across the sea, there are differences between the two Celtic nations’ traditional styles of dance. One thing they have in common, however, is that they’re both a whole lot of fun.

So, just how do you go about getting involved?

Start Learning

What if you’re still an absolute beginner but eager to learn some classic ceilidh dance moves? Have no fear because there is now a multitude of different ways to discover this historic dance style. The internet is a good place to start, whether you use it to look up classes in your local area or simply familiarise yourself with the moves before you even think about finding a dance partner.



Visit Scotland has an interactive ceilidh experience on their website, which does a great job of giving you a feel for the twirling, whirling atmosphere of a Scottish ceilidh without any of the hard work. Once you’ve heard the steps called a few times, you’ll find yourself itching to get out onto the real life dance floor. You’ll find opportunity to test yourself in every corner of Scotland, whether in a local church hall, at a friend’s wedding or even at the annual Hogmanay Snow Ball in Edinburgh. However, it is definitely safest to sign up for lessons with a proper teacher first as stepping onto the dancefloor with no training can be a recipe for disaster. Even if you don’t find yourself in Scotland any time soon, ceilidh dancing is still popular around the world, especially in places Scottish settlers made their home like North America and Australia.

Immerse Yourself in the Culture

Whilst you’re online researching ceilidh moves, it’s a good idea to immerse yourself in the Scottish culture; not only will this give you a better idea of the country from where these dances originated, but it’s also a lot of fun. Just like ceilidh dancing! There are some great resources available to anybody with an internet connection and a keen interest. For example, offers to teach you the Scottish Gaelic language using clear, concise lessons in an easily accessible format, and all for free. Also, as Scotland is arguably the home of modern gaming, it would be a shame to miss out on learning about the country’s rich gaming history. Rockstar North famously developed the internationally successful Grand Theft Auto games, but you can learn about traditional card games like maw, Haggis, blackjack and more on platforms such as PokerStarsCasino or Steam. And let’s not forget one of Scotland’s biggest exports (sort of) – Outlander. This programme is still going strong with 5 seasons available on Amazon Prime and a sixth in the works based on Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling series of novels. It may be an American production, but it certainly has a beating Scottish heart at the centre of it.

Find Your Nearest Ceilidh

Once you’ve practiced your moves and brushed up on Scottish culture, it’s time to find your nearest ceilidh and put yourself to the test. Unless you’re lucky enough to have Scottish relatives celebrating a wedding anytime soon, you will need to track down a ceilidh club or similar in your area. Other opportunities for dancing a ceilidh in a big group come in the form of festivals, like Knockengorroch held in the Carsharing hills ever spring, or the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival which happens during late summer. Ceilidhs are also often held as fundraising opportunities, so that you can dance your socks off and raise money for a good cause at the same time. These are likely to be organised in local areas, so it’s worth searching Facebook or community message boards to find out when the next community dance will be held. Wherever you end up debuting your newfound skills, be sure to do so with a friendly attitude, an open heart and plenty of energy because you’ll need it! Dancing a Scottish ceilidh is perhaps one of the most exhausting yet satisfying full body workouts you can engage in whilst dressed head to toe in wool.

Scottish Music Festival

Scottish Music Festival

Comments are closed.