The Ceilidh in the Castle has always been one of my favorite St Andrews traditions. Even with the formal balls, the fancy dress parties, and everything else our social calendar has to offer, ceilidhs, and this ceilidh in particular, will always occupy a special place in my memory of this town and this university. For lack of a better word, it’s just incredibly cool. This might be my international student naïveté talking, but having come from rural Maine where my exposure to ceilidhs and castles is understandably limited, I think this event is pretty remarkable. The times I casually got to go learn how to dance in the ruins of a medieval castle by the sea? That’s one for the grandkids.
Over the past three years, the turnout has gotten bigger and bigger. On Sunday evening, the queue was down the street and around the corner. This may have had something to do with the spectacular weather, or perhaps the fact that it was the last night of On the Rocks and everyone wanted to go out with a bang. After a brief wait, everyone filed in, found a partner, and the Celtic Society members wasted no time in getting the night rolling.
There were so many people there that some of the dances got a bit cramped, but the callers and the demonstrators generally managed to keep everyone organized, even the most inexperienced of rookies like myself. I thought it was the perfect mix of veteran dancers and brand new beginners; there were enough seasoned professionals to keep the dances going, shouting instructions and encouragement, and enough newbies to keep the atmosphere laid-back and goofy.
Unfortunately I did feel like the evening went on for just a bit too long given how cold and windy it got around 7. Even the most sensibly-dressed were shivering by the end, so for next year I might suggest a slightly abridged program.
Despite the dropping temperatures, I still had a fantastic time. My personal favorite was the Virginia Reel, and I also learned a couple new ones. The callers and the rest of the Celtic Soc were so enthusiastic and they made everyone feel comfortable. Everybody completely threw themselves into it, and it was impossible to stand on the side and watch while seeing so many people having such a good time. Which is actually the reason this review lacks so many technical details… I was too busy dancing!