Ahoy lads and lassies!
That’s more pirate than Scottish isn’t it? My bad. Nevertheless – hello people who read my blog occasionally. It’s been a while huh?
In my absence, we have returned to London following an incredible 11 months abroad and have slowly starting to find time and put away the pennies into our date night pot. Our move back to the big smoke also happened to coincide with St Andrew’s Day and in solidarity to the token Scot of our group, we decided to don the tartan and get tae Streatham for my very first ceilidh.
Now, it will come as a big surprise I imagine, but I am not the most coordinated of dancers (but my enthusiasm makes up for it) so I was a little apprehensive about how serious everyone would be and also what on earth ‘Neeps and Tatties‘ were?!
(To my delight, most people were similarly…shall we say… inexperienced and the Neeps and Tatties (haggis and potatoes) were unexpectedly delicious.)
The ‘pop-up’ ceilidh was organised by DesignMyNight and a ticket set us back £25 but included entry, neeps and tatties (or a veggie option) and a shot of whisky. Held at a large church near Balham, the venue was adorned in bunting with the chairs pushed to the side to create space for all the dancing. Very village hall vibes.
While we waited for our fellow toe tappers to filter in (many with quilts at the ready), we made the most of the temporary bar before being invited to the floor by the band who’d be running the show. I mean, with a name like Fiddle Paradiddle, you know you’re onto a good thing right?
And so the night began…
The band organised the room into groups depending on the dance and, with the patience of a saint (St Andrew perhaps?) walked us through each sequence slowly. Starting without music, we gradually picked up the pace and Fiddle Paradiddle started playing to maintain the beat and help it flow as we moved around the space. Or at least that was the theory.
In reality, there was stumbling, sweat, foot stamping, misclaps, mishaps and some truly shambolic twirling. But throughout all of this, there were smiles and belly laughs echoing across the room, especially at the expense of your own friends.
Split into 2 halves, Fiddle Paradiddle ran us through a series of traditional Scottish dances including The Gay Gordons, The Eightsome Reel and culminating with the infamous Strip The Willow. At half time, we enjoyed some scran and caught our breath (seriously, you don’t know how unfit you are until you take part in a ceilidh!).
Topped up on whisky or Irn Bru, the second half was where it really escalated. By this point, a large cohort had started to get to grips with the routines (myself not included) and the band seemed to have developed an unjustified faith in us so the speed of the music dramatically increased alongside the complexity of the dances themselves.
Here’s an entertaining video of us really concentrating on one of the dances…
Top tip – bigger groups mean that you can generally dance together (although you often change partners) but also mean that one or two of you can sit out if you can’t keep up!
It truly was one of the most fun and entertaining nights of my time in London! Having sold out, it was extremely well organised with both the guests and the hosts taking it seriously enough to make it work, but enjoying it enough to be silly. Cannae recommend it enough.
And the good news is that due to their popularity, DesignMyNight is running the event as a series now. You can get your tickets to the next one here.
It was the perfect date for a group of friends but I’d be thrilled if this was a surprise from someone special!
All’s that’s left to say is… Will ye dance wi me?
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Following my new found love of Scottish dancing, we also discovered Cut A Shine who also host ceilidhs with a twist. Remixing traditional Scottish music with a heavy bass shouldn’t work, but oh, it does. Check them out too for events near you!