Ceilidh in a box

Want to run a Ceilidh dance?

You might like to consider running a Ceilidh dance yourself. Sounds a bit daunting? Well, providing you understand what you are aiming to achieve and make sure you cover all the relevant steps then it can be a reasonably straightforward and very rewarding experience!

First and most importantly you need to be clear why you are wanting to run a Ceilidh dance. There are many reasons that you might want to run a dance, ranging from "well I just enjoy relaxed informal Scottish dancing" to wanting to run an event to raise money for a good cause. Be clear about your reason, whatever it is, as this will help in the organising and running of the event.

Listed below are the main things you will need to deal with to ensure your Ceilidh dance is a success. If you need more help or have any questions please get in touch with the RSCDS office.

Tips to get you going

This is the most important starting point for running a successful Ceilidh dance: 

  • Who is going to attend? 
  • Are you planning to sell tickets or is it a celebration where the attendees are invited? 

A dance evening without dancers is no fun, so you will need to come up with ideas on how to promote it. If you are selling tickets you need a plan as to how to sell them. Knowing where your target budding dancers are coming from and how many are likely to attend is important! 

Once you know why you are running a dance and who is attending, the next thing to decide is when. Make sure the date is sufficiently far into the future to make sure you can find a suitable venue and book a band. Check that your proposed date does not clash with other popular events. Consult local lists of what’s on.

Make sure you have a venue that is suitable for the number of dancers you propose to accommodate, and that dance floor area is adequate and that there is somewhere for the musicians - a stage is ideal.

You will also need to fully understand the terms of the let and any limit on numbers for the hall.

The success for any dance is often down to the quality of the music - so you will need a good band to provide the music for the evening. 

The internet is a good starting point when looking for bands. Additionally, get personal recommendations! Ask any friends if they know some musicians. 

You might need to contact a range of bands to find one that is available on your chosen night, so we advise you to book at least three months ahead of the event.

It has become usual today for most Ceilidhs to be run by a caller who acts as the MC on the night and also helps the dancers through the dances by going over the steps and formations involved. 

If you don’t know of anyone who is prepared to take on the role of MC and caller for the evening then ask the band to supply a caller.

This can be quite critical. What type of dances do you want to do? Do you have enough knowledge to make up a programme or do you want to leave this to the band and the caller? 

Most callers have a lot of experience in running dances and know how to balance a programme to suit the experience level of the dancers present. For some inspiration on building a programme, click the button below to discover some popular Ceilidh dances.

Popular Ceilidh Dances

Consider what food, if any, you are going to offer during the interval and make sure you take the cost of the food into consideration in your overall costs.

You will need to decide fairly early on as to whether your Ceilidh is to have alcoholic drinks. If you decide that it should you will need to check out the licensing laws of the local authority area where you are holding the Ceilidh and adhere to all the required licensing arrangements.

If you offer alcohol at events, some venues may restrict guests to being aged 18+ (or whatever the local drinking age), so do keep this in mind.

Once you have a band, a venue, a caller and an estimate of the number of attendees you will have then you will be in a position to calculate the total outlay for the evening.

If it is a ticketed event then you should be able to determine the cost of the tickets. 

If you are aiming to run the Ceilidh as a fund raising event then make sure you set the ticket price at a suitable level.

If you need help figuring out the price of tickets, try to do some research in to local events. Look into other dance events, concerts, shows, etc. to see what they are charging.

Running a family Ceilidh can be great fun and very rewarding, just be clear what your aims are! 

You should be clear whether your event is to be children/family friendly or not and post this under event info. You can make it 16+, 18+, or all ages, depending on what type of Ceilidh you would like hold.

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