Ceilidh + Ballet = Scottish Country Dance

My first pair of dance shoes in a very long time.

Dearest Readers,

Yesterday I learned the difference between three types of Scottish dancing, courtesy of one of the teachers of my uni’s Scottish Country Dance Club.


Ceilidh Dance: for drunk people and people that think they have two left feet. Can be taught fast, grace doesn’t matter, and as long as there aren’t any major collisions, it’s a success. Also easy to teach in any major gatherings.

Scottish Country Dance: Ceilidh Dance mixed with ballet. More graceful, uses these things called “first position” and “third position” and “step change,” and adds fancier things like many moving parts people where Ceilidh Dance wouldn’t. Also has an element called social dancing, which adds claps, spins, and other shenanigans that make the dances more interesting/fun for the dancers, especially at gatherings of dancers from different places.

Highland Dance: This, according to my country dance teacher, is more “aggressive”. It’s war and fighting dances, historically used for warriors to show their strength, speed, and agility while keeping up morale. Also, their third position is higher than in country dance.


Although I have tremendously enjoyed Ceilidh Dance and will continue to enjoy it when the opportunity presents itself, I must say I like Scottish Country Dance much better.

For one, it’s a good place to learn some basics before I have the opportunity to learn Highland Dance (because who doesn’t want to do something called a Sword Dance?). First position (and all the ballet stuff) is a foreign concept to me, and the soreness in my calves proves it. Feet are not meant to be kept heels together, toes as far apart as possible. It does, however, look super elegant.

Secondly, I gained a fond appreciation for being part of a group of people moving in perfect synchronicity to create something entertaining and/or beautiful during my twelves years of cheerleading. The dancing is one of the few things I miss about cheerleading (the other being throwing people in the air in ways that defy the laws of sanity).

Being in class yesterday doing steps in time with everyone else felt like coming home.

It’s also a really awesome way to relieve stress caused by having a pile of articles to read, reflect on, and consider as an essay topic every week.

Do you have experience with any of these dances? What differences do you think there are? Which do you prefer?

Your Bonnie Celtophile,



2 thoughts on “Ceilidh + Ballet = Scottish Country Dance

  1. Judy MacLeod

    I was a highland dancer , and that is how I met my husband, the company fiddler ! I am also fond of the other two types, and are a lot of fun! Enjoy!
    Oh I should say this all takes place in Canada, Glengarry County, home of the North American pipe band champion Highland Games! (Half way between Ottawa and Montreal)
    I toured your uni in 2002, when my Gaelic group went to perform in the Highlands, Glasgow is beautiful !


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