About the ceilidh dances

The dances are mainly based on English folk dances and are danced as couples in lines, circles or squares.  Lots of people come without partners and many of the dances are progressive, where people change partners.

There are links below to sites that provide in depth information about ceilidh dances but most of our dances are fairly simple and can be done with the movements described here.  All the dances are called and start with a walk through to make sure that everyone understands the movements.

Basic guide!

  • The man usually has the lady on his right.   The top of the set is the end nearest the band.
  • Longways sets face towards the band and may have 3 or more couples - the men stand in one row and the ladies in a row on the men's right
  • Square sets have 4 couples standing in a square and facing inwards - the couples facing the band and with their back to the band are head couples - the others are side couples
Back to Back or Do si do Take 2 or 3 steps forward so that your right shoulder passes your partner’s right shoulder, take 2 steps to your right then 2 or 3 steps back so your left shoulder passes your partner’s left shoulder, back to your place
Balance Stand/hop on left leg and kick the right leg across your body – repeat on right leg
Cast The first person in the line turns away from their partner and walks towards the bottom of the set
Corner In a square set this is the person on the lady's right and man's left
Dip and Dive Holding your partner’s nearest hand, walk forward together going under the arch made by the first couple you come to and form an arch for the next couple to walk through
Grand Chain Standing in a circle, face your partner and give them your right hand. Walk past them and give your left hand to the next person.  Walk past them and give your right hand to the next person.  Continue till you get back to your place.
Ladies Chain The lady takes right hands with the opposite lady, moves forward past her and gives left hand to the man opposite.  He will put his right arm behind the lady and rotate on the spot as she walks round him.  The lady repeats the process with her own partner in order to return to her place
Reel of 3  
Reel of 4 People 1 and 3 face down the set. 2 and 4 face them, then like Reel of 3
Right and Left through Give your right hand to your partner and change places with them. Turn to your right and  give your left hand to the person next to you and change places with them. Turn to your right and give your right hand to your partner.  Turn to your right and give your left hand to the person next to you and change places with them so you are back in your place
Star Place your right or left arm as directed at shoulder height into the middle of the circle. Join hands with the others and walk round in a circle usually back to your place
Strip the Willow Take your partner’s right hand and turn them round until the lady faces the men’s line and the man faces the ladies line.  Hold out your left hand to the first person in the line and turn them round .Meet your partner in the middle of the set, give them your right hand and turn them round. Give your left hand to the second person in the set and turn them round until you reach the bottom of the set or group
Swing Take both your partner’s hands and turn round together
Turn Give your partner your left, right or both hands as directed and turn them round

More information

Mardles Ceilidhs

Norfolk Ceilidhs

Norwich has a long history of ceilidh dances to excellent local, live bands.   We are carrying on that tradition from Keir Hardy Ceilidhs and the other venues that preceded them.  We will also publicize other public dances that we hear of. We are affiliated to the English Folk Dance and Song Society  Please join our Google or Facebook groups to be kept informed and to provide feedback.

The Dances

  • Where are the dances held? - The recreation centre at John Innes
  • When are the dances? - Doors open at 7:40pm, dancing starts at 8pm and continues to about 10:30pm.  The dates are on the Calendar
  • How much are tickets? - £7 - tickets may be available on the door but please book tickets in advance by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.as there is a limit to the number of people that can be admitted.   We will update the Calendar to show if a dance is sold out.
  • Who are the dances for? - Anyone who enjoys English Ceilidh dances! All the dances are called and no previous experience is needed.   The dancing is quite lively, so not suitable for young children as they could be injured by collision with vigorous adults!

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