Ceilidh calling, or how I became a ceilidh caller
How does one become a Ceilidh caller exactly?
I’m glad you asked…
Originally hailing from Australia, I grew up following my musician parents around as they played and sang their way across most of the East Coast of Australia and New Zealand.
At the age of 11 I think I figured that ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ so I found myself on stage playing the flute or mandolin and singing backing vocals and the occasional lead.
Many of these gigs involved playing for Dinner Dances which included classics such as the Foxtrot, Waltz, Rhumba, Mamba, etc but my favourite gigs by a country mile were the ‘Bush Dances’ – the Australian version of the traditional English, Irish and Scottish dances (Ceilidhs!). These dances were pretty close to the original dances often with an Australian twist.
How to Australianise a Ceilidh/Bush dance:
- Take a traditional English, Irish or Scottish dance
- Eliminate the emphasis on the correct technique and precise steps
- Add a whole lotta hooting and hollering
- (Quite a crucial step) Give it a ridiculous name: The Drongo, The Stockyards, The Waves of Bondi, The Queensland Backstep
And there you have it, One Australian Bush dance!
So now when I call a traditional Ceilidh for a wedding or party, it takes me back to my youth and much fun had on the dancefloor (I even met my first boyfriend at a Ceilidh/Bush Dance – now we’re really going back!)
We may not call ‘The Drongo’ for your event but the Gay Gordon, Circassian Circle, Dashing White Sergeant or Strip the Willow (among others) are bound to get the heart racing and feet stomping. What better way to meet new people and have fun with ones you already know??
It always helps to have a partner that doesn’t mind being thrown around a bit and there’s no need to have done it before… Pastiche Band will walk and talk (and laugh!) you through a ceilidh dance before we add the music – then let the fun begin!!
Here’s a short film of Pastiche playing a polka for a ceilidh at a wedding.
See you on the dancefloor at your wedding or party!