The dance answers...

What is Folk Dance?

  • A deceptively simple question - but no simple answer. Certainly any description which includes names of dances, styles or music or steps or dance movements is going to be incomplete. 'Folk Dances' are more those which are part of a culture, tradition or community, typically ones where you say "I don't really know where I learned that". Answers include in the ways which refers to the manner people learn the dances, that folk dances are more community-orientated than commercial.
  • The webfeet attempt at answering the question is to say look around at the dancers, if you've got a generation or more of of people dancing then you're at a folk dance, if you've got a narrow age range, despite the dances, you're elsewhere.

What is an English Folk Dance or Barn Dance?

  • English Folk Dances, Barn Dances, Country Dances etc (there's no end of names for them) are first and foremost social dances.
  • Recognisible by a fairly regular structure - squares, circles or line - a fairly regular pattern - one couple does something, the second does it, the third does it.
  • The dances can be done without having to learn particular steps or without having to remember complex sequences of instructions. There is a large range of dances done but it is normal that instructions (or reminders) are called out as part of the dance.
  • There's more detail in the Barn Dance intro

How do I spell Ceilih? or was it Ceilhid? Celidh? Cayli?

Caylee maybe, or Cailey, Kayli or Kayle, Kaylay, Caili, Ceiligh, Kaleigh, Caeligdh, Ceiglei, Chelidh, Kailee, Ceilihd, Caylie, Kaylee or Kay-lee, Ceylee, Cayley, Ceileigh, Kayleigh, Khaylie, Ceidlidh, Cehliedh or possibly even Ceighleigh?

  • Not an easy word and more variations appear every day :-) There's Ceilidh, which seems to be how it is spelt in Scotland, and Ceili, which is more definitely Irish. English Ceilidh follows the Scottish spelling.
  • Wikipedia is a good starting off point (and gives the spellings with accents).

What is English Ceilidh?

  • English Ceilidh is the wilder side of English Folk or Barn Dance.
  • There's no real dividing line between English Ceilidh and a Folk or Barn Dance, the dances overlap, sometimes the same tunes are used in both. The major difference is in the attack, as described in the link above, you would hunt out your training shoes to dance at an eCeilidh gig.

Isn't there a better name than English Ceilidh?

  • Now we are into the area where the questions really are Frequently Asked...
  • Maybe there's two questions nestling together here - does 'English Ceilidh' need a separate label and why use a Scottish/Irish term?
  • The Webfeet answer to the first question is yes, there needs to be a separate label although this is discussed, often at length on the mailing list, and for the second that if there is a better name, it hasn't turned up and made it into common usage.
  • (You'll hear 'eCeilidh' but that's 'English Ceilidh' squashed into one word)

Do I want a Barn Dance or an English Ceilidh?

  • An answer lifted straight off the EC discussion list - If you're asking the question you want a Barn Dance If you haven't met the term, check out the Barn Dance introduction.
  • In response to the perplexed 'Eh?'. The term 'Barn Dance' is certainly better known than 'English Ceilidh'. People would recognise a barn dance from various fund raising events such as arranged by school Parent Teachers Associations. People know the term 'English Ceilidh' from dance series, folk festivals etc.
  • If you are putting on an event, a lot more people would know the term barndance.
  • Nevertheless there's a short dig into the difference in the overview page.

.. and there's a difference between English Ceilidh and English Country Dance?

  • This depends on where you are: in the US, 'English Country Dance' (or ECD) refers to the graceful, stately, Playford-type dances and those you see in those Jane Austin TV series. There is a big difference between these and English Ceilidh.
  • In the UK there's a difference in terms of the music, eCeilidh music is taken from all over, certainly not limited to tunes from the British Isles. On the other hand the term English Country Dance music does seem to imply that the tunes have English roots.

.. Is it difficult?

  • Everyone will tell you it's not, the bands, the agents, the people putting on the barn dance in the village hall, they'll all say that anyone can do it. It's probably true, it's not Ballroom dancing, Riverdance or endurance training after all
  • There's two things in its favour, you don't have to worry too much about the feet, there won't be any of those pictures showing an indeterminate number of footprints trying to waltz, and you don't have to remember too much either, there'll be a caller reminding people of what's coming next until he or she's sure that everybody has got it. There is likely to be a bit of jargon, the descriptions of the moves, the direction to face and so on, but you are dancing in a group most of the time and can watch what other people are doing.

How do I hire a band?

  • This used to be a question of 'do you know one', if so ask them, if not, find an agency.
  • Nowadays it is possible to browse the collected web pages (start local!), look for recommendations from the various newsgroups. However there is still a place for asking an agency, particularly if you want a dance as part of an event (say a wedding). You probably don't want to bother with the details, the agency will try to find a band and caller which fits your wishes.
  • Webfeet maintains a short list of Booking Agencies, doesn't do this sort of work itself.
  • The FAQ also has a section on this.

How much will a band cost?

  • Well, there's a chance you'll find a band who plays for the love of it or who accept your offer to do their replumbing the next time. If not, you'll have to accept that you can be paying 3, 4, 5 or more people for 'X' hours work, driving back and forth, the wear and tear on the collection of instruments and equipment, insurance costs and potentially the Agent's fee as well.
  • Now, of course, you want figures - so assume 75 to 100 pounds per person plus travel costs (and don't forget the caller) and you should not be too far off. Some bands will be more, maybe some less. You are more likely to be at the high end of this range in the south of England and cheaper in the north.

Where can I find...?

  • There are a lot of these questions, the answers apply to the UK and normally for topics outside the Webfeet area you can find references in the Entsweb dance pages.

Where can I find Irish Dancing Classes...?

  • Try but be aware that this is not a Riverdance-type stepdancing site (there used to be a site for Irish Ceili as well,, that seems to have gone in 2004. See the copy on the Wayback machine).

Where can I find details of Morris Steps...?

  • As far as I know there isn't a collection of descriptions of Morris dances on the web. There's books (the Bacon 'Black Book' which you might be able to get through the EFDSS) but these are no substitute for an evening in a pub with a Morris side...

What, no Latin or Ballroom?

  • 'Tis true. Life is too short and keeping Webfeet up-to-date with just the English Ceilidh / Folk Dance / French / Breton information is enough work. If anyone does have a good link to a UK index of Latin and/or Ballroom I'll include it here....

Where can I find Belly Dancing...?

  • Pass on this one... It is a frequently asked question but I've not seen a site which answers it. The closest could be SIFD The Society for International Folk Dancing.
  • The History of Belly Dance page gives a description of the context.

The webfeet answers...

What is Webfeet?

  • Webfeet is described in the overview and help pages - but in short it is designed to be a focus for English Ceilidh, Folk Dance, Barn Dance information etc on the Web. It includes indexes to bands, events, recordings and samples (MP3's for example), diaries and a search engine.

Searching Webfeet?

  • You can search for events if you are looking for gigs by a particular band or in a particular area, or you can do a text search to find pages in webfeet itself and 'neighbouring sites'. See the help page for more detail.

Can I use my desktop calendar?

  • The webfeed diaries are available in iCal format and can be read/imported by your favourite calendar program or Gmail.

How do I get my band listed in Webfeet?

  • Just send webfeet an Email with the URL of your website. There's no charge....
  • ... And, if you've got a page, don't forget to include where you're based in it!

How do I get my event listed in Webfeet?

  • There's a number of things you can do, webfeet collects information from around the web so if your band has a webpage or is on Facebook, make sure that you include a reference to the event. If you create a Facebook event make sure it is 'public' so that everyone can access it.
    • If you are organising a 'one off' dance and want some extra publicity, for a PTA for example, you can publicise details in the WhereCanWeGo site.
      • There are notes about how to do this here
    • If you are organising a series of dances it is also a good idea to promote them on Are You Dancing
      • There are notes about how to do this here.
    • If you are organising an English Ceilidh event, you can add your gig to eCeilidh's Gig List
    • If you have a Folk Dance Club or Group or are organising something like a Ball you will definitely want your details in Set and Turn Single.
      • They have a video about how to do this.
  • You can, of course do all of the above. It is a little more straightforward to advertise the entry in WhereCanWeGo than Are You Dancing but the latter will also email a notification out to people who've registered that they are interested in dances in that particular area.

... and answers about answers

Where did these questions come from?

  • How do you know what's a Frequently Asked Question?
  • See what the search engine is asked, and listen to the discussions on the English Ceilidh mailing list.

Where did these answers come from?

  • Many of these answers were much debated on the English Ceilidh Discussion List (above!) All the best quotes on this page belong to the members of the list.

Can I have a Second Opinion?

  • You mean lookup another FAQ? Well there's the FAQ for topics regularly discussed in the Newsgroup.

... and finally, what about Webbed Feet?