Fall is coming up and the spirit of Halloween is growing. For some people, they’ve already begun delving into the spirits and looking for new haunted houses.
When in Scotland you have to try dancing the Ceilidh. It’s a traditional Scottish folk dance where you swing your partners around and dance up and down the hall. There’s hardly a moment you’re still.
Many of the guys dress in Scottish kilts with a baggy t-shirt or go all out with a fancy thick long sleeve. People will find all sorts of people at these dance halls. There’s always a band at the front. They are lively and play some of the more popular tunes of the early 2000’s and earlier with a twist.
Ceilidh Definition from dictionary.com: “a party, gathering, or the like, at which dancing, singing, and storytelling are the usual forms of entertainment.”
The Ceilidh has been around since at least 1917 when Donald Mackenzie wrote about the dance as a social gathering for people. There was music, dancing, story telling, and poetry. It was a great way for people in small villages to get together and socialize on a cold night or warm summer’s evening. Most of the time, this was where people met new people, friendships grew, and sometimes even relationships lead to marriages.
The dancing itself is performed either with partners or as a group. They are fast paced and take you all around the dance floor. Most of the music is traditional Scottish tunes, but today they take modern music and put a Scottish twist on it.
Each dance is full of excitement and energy vibrates through the room. New comers often need frequent breaks from the dances to cool down and get a good drink. This is the perfect time to spark up a conversation with new people who will most likely surprise you with the stories they have to tell.
There are two great places in Edinburgh to check out some Ceilidh dancing: Summer Hall and Assembly Roxy. These places understand there are a lot of new comers and take the time to teach each new dance before swinging fully into the next tune.
I haven’t been to Assembly Roxy, but Summer Hall was great. The dance hall is like entering into a grand-Medieval dance hall. The band is situated on one side and the bar on the other. All the tables are pushed back behind the columns to allow for seating and open up the dance floor. Something to note is that since the building is so old there is no air conditioning, so make sure you wear something breathable and light.
Stepping into the dance hall was like going back in time. Music blared. Footsteps shook the floor. People laughed. The air was full of energy!
There were people of all ages from 18 to 70. Unlike America, people will ask you to dance left and right. They are very courteous and bold to say the least. Maybe that’s why so many women love Scottish men. One thing to keep in mind is when you are asked to dance say yes most of the time. It’s seen as rude if you say no.
When you get on the dance floor be ready to be tossed into the crowd. You might have a hand or an elbow to the face. Who knows? People are moving around so quickly and it’s hard to keep up sometimes. They don’t care if you get in the way. They’ll keep going no matter what.
If you’re a woman, you will feel like a light gazelle compared to the men. I always thought of myself as a bit bigger but that didn’t matter to them. They were able to lift me off the floor when we spun around. I honestly can’t tell you how long my feet were actually on the ground.
By the end of the night, you will be sweating like crazy. Make sure you wear something light and have a good fan! It’s one of the best workouts. The finale dance is one you can’t miss. It keeps you on your toes and there is continual spinning until you’re dizzy and can’t distinguish your left from right.
Dancing the Ceilidh is an experience every traveler should try at least once. It brings you into the Scottish culture. It’s old fashioned, gay (in the sense it’s happy), and will keep you on your toes. The best part is that you can either go with a group of friends or on your own. No matter what, you will be on that dance floor by the end of the night!
Last September, I spent three weeks in Edinburgh, Scotland working on a travel guide with a group of people. One of the girls sister’s happened to be staying there as well and tipped us off to this neat house filled with bars. Teviot Row House is located on the Edinburgh University campus and everyone knew about it. There were lines out the door! It also didn’t help that it was welcoming week for the university. Every freshman lined up and was gearing for a good time.
Originally built in 1889, the Teviot Row House was created for the student union during the Victorian era. The Castle-like building included rooms for billiards, a library, tea rooms, and several courts beneath the building. Up until 1971, men were only admitted to the building. They enjoyed wonderful tea times with beautiful waitresses serving them in black uniforms. What man wouldn’t love that in college? At the time, they didn’t serve alcohol in the building, but that soon changed in 1970.
Over the years, the building started to welcome the public. The Gilded Balloon used the place as a venue for for stand-up comedies and cabaret performances. The group has continued to use this space since 2003 and drawn more attention to the venue.
Bars and Music
Today, students flock to this building for games of billiards, meetings, and bars. The first bar I entered within the establishment was The Library Bar. Needless to say, I loved it. Books lines the walls with tables and chairs spread out. There was a spiral staircase leading to the second floor with even more books and lounging chairs to enjoy the experience. Granted, it seemed to be the most popular among the students since it was the most crowded out of the three bars I visited.
After running into a robust Scotsman, I headed down with him to the Sports Bar. There weren’t a lot of people at the time and a football game kept the amusement of the few there. The space was open with a couch and several billiards tables. We grabbed a drink and talked as the bar slowly began to fill up.
Later that evening, I headed up a couple floors to The New Amphion. Before I saw the room, I could hear thumping and people singing from the stairs but no music. All my friends were already there and each one was holding a beer and wearing headphones. They were singing along to something.
In order to keep the noise down, students rented out these radio headphones for 5 which you get back once you return the headphones. There were two stations and you could tune in to each one throughout the night. They were singing along and dancing like no one was watching. Even without a DJ playing, they had smoke and strobe lights in the room. There were times when a popular song would come on and the entire crowd would sing the lyrics. It’s actually a neat concept. Maybe more colleges in the U.S. could do this and it would cut down on some of the cops showing up to overly loud house parties.
Teviot Row House is a must visit when in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is a hot spot for young adults and college students. The place is a great way to visit several bars without having to walk the streets in search of the next best one.
Check out a video of the silent dancing!
Teviot Row House
Telephone: 0131 650 4673
Address: 13 Bristo Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9AJ