Well fleet-footed fiends wondering the same as I, last night was a great evening of 'Gay Gordon', 'Stripping Willows' and what all else. It has been quite a while since I attended a ceilidh, let alone one quite of the calibre experienced last night. We swung around, we crashed into each other, there were partner dances and there were progressive partner dances (yes, dear friends, even in a time of Conservative politics and cut-backs) and there was much sweat to be had as well. Good on ya for keeping it on yourself, I say, but so much the better if your sweat flies off you and adds to the encroaching humidity in the place, take part in the dew-like shine present on every dancer's brow and filling the room with a haze of happiness and fun as beer is drunk by the barrel in a vain attempt to stave off dehydration because the water tank, in particular, always seems to be running dry.
So. Ceilidh dancing. I love it. I also love dancing in clubs, but it just doesn't seem to cut the mustard as well as that of a good ceilidh. The reasons for my unadulterated love of this form of dance are many, and I will probably only attempt a few here. From the end I hope to have convinced you that club dancing simply pales in comparison, and while your body aches similarly for both in the morning after they are for completely different reasons.
The First reason I really love ceilidh dancing is because, well, it's dancing. But it's not the type of dancing that you have to get all decked out in sequins and g-strings and spandex and dance shoes and know your 'shuffle' from your 'step-ball-change' from your foxtrot. No my dear friends, all you need is a set of ears and enough confidence is to get yourself on the dance floor. From that the fine lady or man doing the calling on the stage with the band will tell you what to do. And if you mess up, who cares? No one! Hurray! But it's all still dancing!
Alternatively, if you're dancing in a club, there are no set dance rules except for the 'someone grabs someone else and dances with them in full frontal fashion'. While this happens in ceilidh dancing, the caller TELLS you to get closer or go full frontal or whatever with your partner and so it is A OK.
The Second reason I really love ceilidh dancing is because everyone is sweating. Gross, I know, but you also know that the opportunities in life to sweat without explaining yourself are always far and in between. At a club I always. Even thinking about going to a club, as I write this, is making me think I should wipe my brow in an attempt to preempt the beads of sweat thinking of appearing. If you're the sweaty person in a club, especially if you are a girl sweaty person in a club, you get the looks from the girls and the dudes in all the wrong ways like 'Eww, if I were to dance with her, she would be all sweaty and stuff'. However, at a ceilidh, dear friends, sweat is the mark of someone to dance with, someone who will spin you around the floor, and then spin you around again, someone who will strip the willow with you and stick around long enough to make it to the ends of the lines. Sweat at a ceilidh, dear friends, is a mark of pride, glory, and truth in your dancing skills.
However, the main reason I love ceilidh dancing is that it is just such good fun. Full stop.
As for the pain, however, that's a different matter. Like, I know I have calves and hamstrings and quads and ribs and inner parts to my elbows and stuff, but by gum you simply do not remember about them until you wake up the morning after. You lie in bed with a drowsy cloud of happiness hanging above your bed (and mayhap mixed with a cloud of beer-induced stale breath, but that's for another post).
You think to yourself 'My what a nice night I had. My hair is awfully heavy with dried sweat - for I am a ceilidh king/queen/choice of royalty/etc.'
And then you think to yourself 'I must get up. I shall.' And then you do. At which point you hear a yelp from your calves, a slow, deep groan from your hamstrings, your inner elbows are silent in disbelief in the pain you are causing them and your quads simply won't speak to you. That my friends, is a chorus of a body after a ceilidh and it feels good,
Throughout the day following your ceilidh you might sit down, say for a cup of tea, and think 'My, I think my body is feeling better' and then you get up and you feel the off-tone tune of your poor old bod rousing itself from the infernal pain you've caused it.
But once you are upright, dear friends, you stand tall. For all the twirling and swirling and crashing and sweating ceilidhs are good and necessary fun. The original way for the village kids to meet up and dance up and figure out with whom to hook up, the modern ceilidh is a great way to sweat out your beer, crash (oops!) into someone on the dance floor you might fancy and just let your variously neglected body parts be reminded that you know they exist - even if they are wailing in pain for the next forty-eight hours.