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Hijinks Ensue

I can has ceilidh dance nao?

Manchester Ceilidh was disappointing. When I arrived, shortly after the posted start time, the doors were still locked. The organisers arrived after a few minutes but other dancers were slow in arriving. The second dancer to arrive was a single woman. After plucking up the courage to introduce myself I spent about fifteen minutes chatting to her before running out of small-talk and grinding to a halt. This is better than average for me.

As other dancers gradually arrived, two things became clear: it was going to be a really quiet night, and nearly everyone had brought a dance partner with them. People kept commenting on how empty the place was. At its peak there were about 25 established couples who never danced with anyone else, the aforementioned single woman (who, it transpired, was there to meet a couple of friends and didn't seem particularly enthusiastic about actually dancing), a group of about six male students, two or three other single blokes, and myself.

The band took a while to arrive and get set up (in fairness, there would have been no point in them starting earlier due to the lack of dancers). The events list on the website was wrong: Pigeon English played last month. This month it was a young Newcastle band called the Monster Ceilidh Band. They seemed technically competent but were lacking something - none of the songs felt particularly energetic or fun to me, and the dances seemed a bit dull.

I got to dance once. It was a French dance; I don't remember if the caller said what it was called but it wasn't particularly complicated, fast, intimate, or exciting in any way. I stuck around until the start of the second set but no more single women had arrived during the break and it was clear that I would be lucky to get a second dance so I sloped off home early.

I think the most positive thing I can say about it was that at least it wasn't painfully embarrassing like my one attempt at going to a dance class without a partner, and I did get one dance - it looked like most of the other single blokes there didn't get even one. All in all, it really wasn't worth driving thirty miles each way for. I'm not going to give up on ceilidhs just yet after two good experiences and one bad one, but any more people who try to tell me that dances are always short of men are likely to receive very short shrift.
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There were two pairs of women there dancing with each other. I did rather ineptly try going up to one pair and asking them if either of them would like to dance (what is the proper etiquette in that situation?). They said no and that put me off asking the other two.

The atmosphere was quite different to the two convention ceilidhs I've been to, where there was a closer balance of single men to single women and little reluctance to dance with strangers. At the Orbital dance you could go and stand at the side of the dance floor at the start of a dance and there was a very good chance you would find someone of the opposite sex also looking for a partner.

If you have to bring a partner with you and dance only with them all night that seems to me to be missing the point of a ceilidh slightly...