No barn? No problem


On Friday October 25th SLiDE will be hosting their first ever barn dance in Selsdon (Croydon) and it will launch their next community dance project ‘Unexpected item’. The barn dance will be called by Rosemary Harvey, a regular dancer in SLiDE’s projects. Here she discusses her route into barn dancing and the illusive issue, ‘so what is the difference between a Barn Dance and a Ceilidh?’.

How did you get into barn dancing, and calling?

I really got into Barn Dancing through teaching English Country dancing in Primary Schools: as part of PE and in Dance Clubs. However, I have been doing Scottish Country Dancing since I was a teenager – I think that expertise helped. Calling has been a more recent experience. I first did this about 8 years ago when a local church wanted to raise some money for outreach work abroad and decided to hold a Barn Dance. From that moment I was hooked.

Can you briefly describe the difference between a Barn Dance and a ceilidh? 

Ceilidh is a traditionally Scottish gathering where individuals bring along a talent to share: dancing, singing, acting, recitations and musical instruments to entertain everyone for the evening. More often they are mainly traditional Scottish Dances with a few people entertaining in between, but can also be just simple Scottish Dances and a few fun dances to encourage as many people as possible to ‘have a go’. Traditionally some of the musicians would play, but it is more common for there to be a band or CD’s today. Scottish Country dances are predominantly reels, jigs or strathspeys, which are of a slower tempo.

Barn Dance is usually full of English Country Dances and maybe some American Square Dances which are walked through and ‘called’ so that as many people as possible can join in. Usually a band will play but sometimes CD’s are used. Barn Dances are usually jigs and reels but can be waltzes or hornpipes.

The common ground between both types of dancing is that the figures are the same: reel, star, circle, doh-s-doh, for example. However, Scottish dancing has particular steps: pas-de-bas, travelling step, and Schottishe setting.

What’s your favourite thing about barn dancing? 

I love country dancing mostly because of the music which is lively and fun to dance to. However, I think Barn Dances are a good way to introduce people to this type of dancing as they are always ‘called’ so that people can relax and enjoy the dance. Whether I dance or ‘call’ it puts a smile on my face because everyone seems to enjoy themselves and it doesn’t matter if you go wrong – that’s part of the fun!

Could you sum up a barn dance in three words…

Dance! Laugh! Have fun!

Tickets are on sale now and we hope you can join us for what will be a laughter filled evening of dance:


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