To those in the know, such as Alison Hemmings of The Caledonian, Scottish dancing can be broken down into three types – country, reeling and céilidh dancing – with subtle but distinct differences.
“Royal Scottish Country Dance is the most formal and correct version,” explains Alison, “while reeling is more fluid and less ‘ballet-like’…. a stickler for form might regard reeling as a lazier form of Scottish Country Dancing!
“Reeling is not dissimilar to the dances of the 17th century while hands behind backs and ‘shouldering’ hark back to its links with the military. Less defined and precise, céilidh dancing is similar to a barn dance, with a ‘caller’ to pitch the dancing at the appropriate level of dancers’ ability. Some of the simpler dances – the Gay Gordons and the Dashing White Sergeant – tend to be associated more with a céilidh.
The Caledonian Club hosts its Ceilidh and Reeling evenings twice a year – usually in March and October. “We always have a ‘caller’ and so at our events the distinction between reeling and céilidh does tend to blur slightly – it’s really about gathering people together for a fun and lively evening of Scottish dancing without being too purist!” sums up Alison.
Transcending all ages and dancing ability – and avoiding the embarrassing ‘dancing Uncle’ scenario! – céilidhs or reeling parties are enjoyable social occasions with a buzz that has guests enthusing about it long afterwards!