What is a Ceilidh?
“Ceilidh” (pronounced “kay-lee”) is a gaelic word which literally means “a visit”. Traditionally in Scotland a Ceilidh has been a night of wild dancing, poetry, readings and drinking. In short – a party!
These days the poetry and readings have mostly been dropped, but the dancing (and drinking) have continued with great enthusiasm!
You find versions of ceilidh all over the UK and around the world where people meet to dance socially and party the night away. At Brighton Ceilidh Collective we build on the Scottish and Irish ceilidh roots and traditions, adding dances and music from all corners of the planet – wherever people love a good tune and a bit of jigging. The aim is to always bring you dances that are loads of fun and have that spirit of carefree exuberance that makes our ceilidh events extra special.
Is it suitable for beginners?/Do you teach the dances?
Absolutely. We do a lot of wedding ceilidhs and know how to make sure our dances are quickly learned by those who’ve never danced before, as well as being enjoyed by those who have. We put guests at their ease and ensure that everyone knows that it’s the fun and enthusiasm that matters, rather than getting the steps perfect. Each dance is taught before the music starts and then the moves are called during the dance to remind you what to do.
Which dances do you do and are they all Scottish/Irish?
We love to include plenty of good old Scottish favourites such as Strip the Willow, Dashing White Sergeant, Cumberland Square 8 and Gay Gordons. But there are some brilliant dances we’ve learnt in recent years from the rest of the British Isles, Europe, America and beyond. Some of our personal favourites include Riverside Jig, Siege of Ennis, Boston Tea Party, Suicide Square and Russian Crown. We find that for guests, it’s more important that a dance is lots of fun and has plenty energy, rather than where it comes from.
How much space will we need for a Ceilidh?
One meter square per dancer works out well. It really depends on how flamboyant they’re being. At weddings, guests usually want to spend some time chatting to family or friends they haven’t seen for years, so often there will only be between half and a third of your guests dancing at once. If in doubt, please get in touch and weâ€™ll be happy to advise.
How long do you play for?
The ceilidh band plays for up to 3 x 45 min sets of dancing and are with you for up to 3 hours in total after set up. This can be extended, but there would be an additional fee. Most of the time, we find that 2 x 1 hour ceilidh sets work brilliantly for most weddings and parties, but you know how energetic your friends are!
How can I make sure my guests dance?
We find that, most of the time, it isn’t a problem to get people dancing. At the start of the night guests can be a little shy or nervous, but by the end of the evening, everyone is on the floor. We have loads of experience of building the right atmosphere, and people’s confidence, which is often all that’s needed to produce a cracking night. We will never force anyone to dance and we pride ourselves in balancing encouragement with respect. Our aim is always to create a fun, memorable event for everyone -whether they want to dance every dance or not.
How far do you travel?/Which areas do you cover?
We’re based in Brighton and cover most of Sussex and Surrey, with occasional forays into London and Kent. We don’t charge for travel if your venue is within a 20 mile radius of Brighton.
Do you PAT test your equipment?
Yes, all our equipment is tested annually. Certificate available on request.
Are you insured?
Yes, we carry £10million Public Liability Insurance. Certificate available on request.
How does your booking system work?
Once you’ve made the decision to book Brighton Ceilidh Collective, we’ll take all the details we need from you and send you out a booking form by email.
You can then check you’re happy with all the details and with one click, you can confirm the contract online.
You will also receive an invoice for a deposit to secure the date of your event which can be paid by bank transfer using our reference.
Once we’ve received both the confirmed booking form and the deposit, we’ll send you a receipt for your deposit and a written confirmation that your booking is secure.
Do you play music during the breaks?
Yes, if you’re happy with that. We like to keep the party spirit going and so we can either put one of our playlists on or you can supply us with yours on an iPod/phone which we’ll plug into our system.
What space does the band need to set up?
A 3 musician ceilidh band will need 3m x 2m. 5 musicians will require a bit more elbow room – say 4m x 2.5m.
But we’ll do our best to work with whatever set-up your venue can provide.
What happens if you’re unable to perform due to illness or unforeseen circumstance?
We’re generally a pretty healthy bunch, but we also have a network of talented musicians and callers we can draw on (hence the ‘Collective’ name!) to fill in if someone’s suddenly taken unwell or there’s some other unforeseen emergency. Making sure the show goes on is the priority.
What happens if something goes wrong with your PA?
Our PA is modern and well maintained, so we trust that it is reliable. It’s also quite powerful and adaptable, so if any parts of it do ever fail we can still function and provide a good evening’s entertainment for you and your guests. In the most extreme circumstances (for instance complete power failure at a venue or perhaps at an outdoor generator-powered event), our musicians are also adept acoustic instrumentalists, so we can at least provide a more intimate musical experience for listening and dancing.
How long does it take to set up?
For a 3 musician band we like an hour, for 5 musicians preferably an hour and a half. We will be tidy and discreet setting up , but at some point we will have to quickly ‘soundcheck’ the PA system (the band will pay a short test tune) to make sure that everything’s sounding OK for your event.
Can you set up earlier in the day?
Yes, early set-up times can be arranged when you make your booking. Please note that extra charges will apply, as we’ll need to travel earlier and be around for longer than normal.
Are you reliable?
We are a professional company and pride ourselves on our customer service, before, during and after your event. Once you have booked us you can be assured your event will be our highest priority.
Can we use your PA for speeches or other purposes?
Yes, with prior notice this won’t be a problem. We can provide a microphone for speeches, plugged into our mixing desk/PA. If you would like to use our PA for playing your own music, either earlier in the day, before the booked ceilidh times, or in the hours afterwards, this can also be arranged with us in advance – but we would charge for the extra equipment and personal hire time involved, as one of us would need to spend extra time transporting and overseeing the PA for this.