Gay Gordons at the Ceilidh Dance

Ceilidh_at_Lakeside_v1A Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is an informal social event that translates from Gaelic literally as ‘gathering’ but it has come to mean a fun filled night of great company, good music, and exciting dancing.  The Fall Scottish Ceilidh Dance is coming fast and ‘tis the time to learn a wee bit about the Ceilidh Dance and the dance called Gay Gordons.

First off, dance is common to all cultures but the Scottish take their traditions very seriously and that’s a good thing.  The dedication to tradition has enabled the preservation of Scottish dancing dating far back over time. There are variations that exist for Scottish dancing which include Ceilidh Dancing, Scottish Country Dancing, and Highland Dancing.

The Ceilidh dances are easy to learn, good exercise and once you know the steps, you can join in Ceilidh dances all over the world.  No experience is necessary. At every Ceilidh Dance where the Roaring Kelly Band played, the musicians and fellow dancers are always happy to show beginners the steps. You’re also under the eye of our professional caller, Rinthy Aman, who stays with you every step of the way – walking you through the moves and calling out helpful hints.  The emphasis is on having fun and being sociable.

Most of the Ceilidh dances are repetitive in nature and danced with couples in a circle where the dance continues until the original couple moves back to the top but these circle dances can keep moving until the dancers have had enough fun and need a short break before the next dance ensues.  Our caller usually starts the Ceilidh with the classic Gay Gordons and makes sure as many folks who are capable of standing get involved.

The Gay Gordons is a type of dance that first gained popularity in the late 19th century.  The name also alludes to the Scottish regiment, the Gordon Highlanders, a British Army regiment from 1881 until 1994 that took its name from the Clan Gordon.  The regiment recruited principally from Aberdeen and the area of northeast Scotland.

The Gay Gordons starts with all couples facing counter-clockwise (or anti-clockwise as they say in Scotland) with the lady on the outside of the circle and the gentleman on the inside.

  1. With the gentleman’s right hand joined with lady’s right hand above the lady’s right shoulder and gentlemans left hand holding the lady’s left in front at waist level, walk forward four steps, starting on left foot for gentlemen and right foot for the lady.
  2. Still moving in the same direction, and without letting go, pivot on the spot (so the gentleman’s left hand is now behind the lady and the right hand is in front) and take four steps backwards.
  3. Repeat in the opposite direction by moving forward then pivot and take four steps backwards. The couple will now end up in the same place where they started.
  4. Drop left hands, raise right hands above the lady’s head while the lady pivots on the spot.
  5. Join hands in a ballroom hold and polka around moving the circle forward.
  6. Repeat!

For a demonstration of the Gay Gordons dance, see