5 Benefits of Ceilidh Dancing

Keep Dancing Moseley - 5 Benefits of Ceilidh Dancing
Keep Dancing Moseley – 5 Benefits of Ceilidh Dancing

A Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), which translates to ‘gathering’ in Gaelic, originally referred to a casual social gathering rather than a dance specifically. A Ceilidh would involve music-making, storytelling, and other various fun, social activities. Over the years the focus shifted to dancing, and is now a beloved Scottish and Irish tradition, enjoyed by people around the globe.

Ceilidh dancing (similar to Scottish country dancing) is celebrated for its inclusivity, putting emphasis on having fun and meeting new people rather than complicated steps and pressure to get the moves right. Truly anyone can take part, no matter your age, culture, or dancing ability – we’re all just here to have a great time!

The dance has become increasingly popular at weddings, corporate functions and university graduations (to name a few). Due to the dance’s flexibility, it has evolved over time, with dances being influenced by various cultures, or dancing to modern songs as opposed to the traditional Scottish country music. This adds diversity and variation – keeping the dance fresh and exciting.

There are a few common dances which tend to appear at most Ceilidhs, such as ‘Strip the Willow’, ‘Dashing White Sergeant’ and ‘The Virginia Reel’. There is usually a caller at the front who explains the dance beforehand and calls the moves as you go, making it even easier to follow along!

Below are 5 mental and physical benefits of Ceilidh dancing.

A Fun Way to Socialise

Ceilidhs are first and foremost a social gathering, meaning there is a large emphasis on having fun, meeting new people and socialising. The steps are casual and easy to follow whilst being energetic and lively, creating the perfect recipe for letting loose, breaking the ice, and creating shared memories.

Partner rotation is a key element of Ceilidhs, so it is easy to speak to everyone and every dancer can get involved. Cooperation is key, so communication is necessary.

I’m sure you all know how important socialising is for your mental health. It can lower your risk of dementia by keeping your brain healthy and improving your memory and cognition. A study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health concluded older women with larger social circles were less like to develop Alzheimer’s or Dementia by 26%.

Builds Bone Density

Ceilidh dancing (like most dancing) is a high impact weight bearing exercise, meaning your legs and feet are supporting the weight of your body. This type of exercise helps strengthen bones by causing small amounts of damage so osteoclasts (a type of bone cell) will absorb the damage. A new bone is then built by osteoblasts which will be stronger than the previous bone.

Weight bearing exercise is great for preventing diseases such as osteoporosis and osteopenia, as well as reducing your risk of fractures.

Improved Functional Ability

Strathclyde University in Glasgow performed a study with older women to examine the effects of long-term participation in Scottish country dance on body composition, functional ability, and balance. Younger dancers and physically active non-dancers had similar function ability results, however while older dancers performed similarly to younger dancers, older physically active non-dancers performed poorer than their younger counterparts.

This shows how important dance is for the body, and proves even light-hearted, non-intensive dancing such as Ceilidh can create positive long-term health and mobility effects.

Explore Different Cultures

Ceilidhs have been a staple of Scottish and Irish culture since 1875. Now with a global reach, people all around the world can experience the enjoyment and uniqueness of a Ceilidh dance.

Though modernised through the years, the Ceilidh is rich in history and tradition, featuring old folk songs and usually accompanied by traditional Scottish instruments such as fiddles and bagpipes.

Exploring new cultures is important for your mind and mental health, encouraging you to engage outside your comfort zone and open your mind to new experiences you may never have known existed. Experiencing a different culture’s way of life can bring a greater sense of understanding and sensitivity.

A Great Way to Exercise

I’m sure many of us struggle with consistent exercise and finding a way of keeping fit and healthy that suits our interest. A Ceilidh is probably one of the most enjoyable forms of exercise and is surprisingly effective! You can burn up to 400 calories in an hour at a Ceilidh, as well as work every muscle in your body, which is as effective as a circuit session at the gym.

Ceilidhs are about more than just the dancing – it’s a social event. This means you can burn the calories and work up a sweat without even realising, helping keep you heart and lungs healthy, as well as help lower your blood and cholesterol levels… and it’ll leave you wanting more!

“Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.”

Samuel Beckett

Xpress-Yourself Dance CIC run weekly Keep Dancing classes, suitable for older adults across, Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Sandwell and online. Keep Dancing will teach you dances from around the world with no need for a dance partner. Find your nearest Keep Dancing class here.

If you enjoyed reading 5 benefits of Ceilidh dancing, you might want to consider reading 5 benefits of Indian Dancing.

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Thank you for taking the time to read our blog 5 Benefits of Ceilidh Dancing and keep dancing!
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