I experienced my first ceilidh (pron. kaylee, apparently) last night. Not having been brought up in the kind of place that has ceilidhs on a regular basis (or indeed, any basis at all), it was something I’d heard of but had not experienced.
I thought I had a fair idea what one might involve. I had seen them turn up in the odd old film, but I had expected it merely to be a dance – a town social. Like those old fiddle and accordion affairs, only updated and with a DJ. But there was deep tradition and a kind of unchanging community spirit embodied in the Jura ceilidh that I’d not really seen in any other context.
And it was joyous. Madness set to violins and accordions.
It’s the kind of thing that makes somewhere like this so magical. It’s not just that everyone was cutting loose and having a great time – that happens in any nightclub in any town all over the world. It’s that it’s an all-embracing, chaotic, ecstatic celebration of what it means to be an islander – a Diurach.
Nobody was trying to be cool. Everyone was everyone’s best friend. Everyone was there to not only enjoy themselves, but to make sure everyone else enjoyed themselves. And everyone did – immensely.
As the Polish waitress who had served us at dinner said to me, after finally convincing me to dance (and believe me when I say – I REALLY don’t dance): “THIS is why I come here every summer.”
By the way, make sure you stick around to the end of the video for some Clutch-dancing.