The Céilidh

A céilidh (pronounced “kay-lee”) is a social event with Celtic music & dancing (typically Scottish or Irish).

On Saturday night Marta & I attended the Caledonian Ball at the Hilton Hotel in Warsaw. We had been before about five years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. This time was no different although the growing size of the event does seem to be changing its character a little. It is now up to more than 500 attendees, which could easily become very impersonal if it were not for the tireless management efforts by those who have always been involved, the same band “Scotia’s Hardy Sons” and a tried and tested formula for the night’s entertainment. All the money raised goes to good causes helping underprivileged children in Poland.

Being a celebration of St Andrews Day, this is a very Scottish céilidh. Lots of men in traditional dress, many of whom didn’t look or sound like that was from where they originally sprung forth so perhaps they just like wearing skirts? There was the usual “walking around” of the guest of honour, the haggis, as well as a powerful rendition of “Ode to a haggis” by someone clearly going for a place in the Scottish chapter of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Plenty of good whisky to accompany the excellent food the Hilton served up (the manager is Scottish and was at the event which probably focuses the staff’s attention). Best of all, for me, was the Scottish Pipe & Drum band all the way from Czestochowa in Poland! I’m not a pipe & drum band expert but to my ears these guys and gals did a fantastic job. I love this kind of music, very stirring stuff!

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The regular band didn’t disappoint either. With a blend of slower laments mixed with the faster and fiendishly complicated reels (is that what they are??) they kept the massive dance floor packed for a couple of hours. Everyone tied themselves in knots to the “Flashing White Privates” (must be something to do with the kilts), “Homosexual Gordon” and other Scottish hits! (snigger)

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As an Englishman, I always find myself wondering at any such displays of national pride why we appear to be unable to do the same thing with quite the same enthusiasm, if at all. I also wonder if we did hold such an event what on earth would be on the agenda? A rousing chorus of Premier League football chants accompanied by binge-drinking competitions and boxing championships outside while waiting for the taxis I suppose. Very sad. Although it may be untrue and corny to suggest that pipes & drums, kilts, the haggis, whisky and weird poetry is the essence of Scottishness, it does at least all hang together and is recognisable and liked as a display. I really have no idea what would be similarly enjoyed were one to try and encapsulate Englishness??

We’re still recovering from not winning any raffle prizes, despite buying seven of, what we were told were, the winning tickets! Of course, the Steer family deserve a mention for picking up the Scottish Christmas hamper prize (as usual). We tried to start a chant of “It’s a fix!” but nobody else was interested. :)

We got lucky on the way home in the early hours when the doorman inadvertently gave us someone else’s taxi meaning there was little wait in the cold morning air. Apologies to whoever that was!

All in all, a fun evening.

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2 thoughts on “The Céilidh

  1. Liked your article very much and enjoy your blog. Just thought your readers might be confused by your comment on “homosexual Gordons”… It is actually a dance called the “Gey Gordon” often spelled wrongly “gay.” Gey is Gaelic for overwhelming. The Gordons are known for doing everything with an overwhelming enthusiasm and gusto (or just being downright overwhelming period.)
    L. Todd
    House of Gordon USA (read Clan Gordon in the USA)

  2. Dear Lois,

    If you’re not Lois, I apologise. I followed your link and read more about your Clan and I’m guessing the L.Todd responsible for communications and genealogy would be most likely to be active on-line.

    Many thanks indeed for the low-down on the dance I referred to. Now I know the real etymology of the name, I shall forever more refer to it as the “Overwhelming Gordon”.

    From a cheap joke point of view however, it is a pity I hadn’t researched the Clan a little more to discover that your Clan Chief has been known as the “Cock of the North” since the 16th century. The possibilities for the ill-informed, desperately seeking politically incorrect laughs, are obvious. What with that and caber tossing……let’s not go there, I’m sure you have your hands full correcting sassenachs like me. :)

    I enjoyed your site very much and do genuinely wish the Gordon Clan of the USA, indeed the world, the very best! No need to send the boys round, I have a feeling they may be quite large!

    Thanks again for your interest.

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