7 Questions with Edinburgh Ceilidh Club
We spoke to Eilidh and Mark from Edinburgh Ceilidh Club about their events, history and plans for the future.
What gave you idea to set up Edinburgh Ceilidh Club?
We had been involved with playing in ceilidh bands in Edinburgh and had played many times at the Caledonian Brewery which used to hold regular ceilidhs. With changes in the use of the space at the Brewery these events had stopped and for quite a number of years despite some people attempting to get something running, there had been no regular ceilidhs happening in Edinburgh. So we decided to take on running something ourselves. This lead to us starting to run a monthly ceilidh at the South Hall in Pollock Halls, which grew rapidly into a great success having regular crowds of 2-300 people coming in to dance. Following on from this the Edinburgh Ceilidh Club took over running a small ceilidh on Tuesday nights happening at The Lot on the Grassmarket which we grew moving from that small venue on to the Bongo Club, and then to our current Tuesday evening home at Summerhall.
Ceilidhs have been the place of social gatherings for over 100 years, do you think they are still as popular?
I think ceilidhs still have a strong place both as part of our cultural heritage and as a great way to get together and have fun.
I often hear people saying things like “everyone loves a ceilidh” and I think this shows how much people enjoy this kind of dancing and socialising. The popularity of our events also shows how much demand there is. We find that a lot of the time the advance sales, especially for our weekly ceilidhs often sell out a month in advance, and when the last lot of tickets for these go on sale on the day of the event these also sell out within an hour.
In your opinion, what makes a good Ceilidh band?
In many ways it is the same as what makes up any good band, great musicianship, good arrangements, stage presence etc. A good ceilidh band also has to know all the dances, have the correct type of music for each dance and be aware of how the dancers are doing, so that the tempos and rhythms of the music work with the dancers.
What can first timers expect at an Edinburgh Ceilidh Club event?
A lot of fun! It’s all about getting stuck in there and getting involved. We have a complete range of dancing experiences/ages coming to our events and it’s all about having a good time, getting involved and meeting people. It’s really friendly and dancers who attend frequently are happy to help people who are new to it. There’s no need to bring a partner as different people will ask you to dance.
Do you think it’s important to host your events in a range of venues?
We have run ceilidhs in many different Edinburgh venues over the years and each one has its own character, we mostly use different venues so we can get as many people dancing as possible.
The reason we have moved venue a few times is because we have outgrown them, the one exception being the Picture House on Lothian Road which we had started getting around 450 people attending our ceilidhs, but unfortunately the venue was bought over and closed. For dancing it’s important to have a good floor and both our venues have wooden floors, are central for people to get to, and we also find it important to use accessible venues where possible so everyone can enjoy coming along.
You have been running for 12 years, have you noticed a change in the Edinburgh music scene during that time?
For a while before we started running regular ceilidhs there was a real lack of public ceilidh events that people could go to, our events seem to have helped to spur on the ceilidh scene in Edinburgh and beyond, it’s great to see more and more happening. The music scene is very dependent on good venues and good promoters and this comes and goes but we could always do with more. It’s still sad to see venues like the Picture House closed and nothing yet filling that space, but hopefully something will.
12 years strong, what are your plans for the future?
We are always having ideas, but mostly we are looking to keep doing what we are doing and keep people enjoying ceilidh dancing and encouraging the live music scene here in Edinburgh.
For upcoming show info and tickets, visit: www.edinburghceilidhclub.com