Fendragon - Cambridge based ceilidh band

Another Take on "English Ceilidh"

This was posted by Steve Mansfield in response to a "what is e-ceilidh?" question on a newsgroup...
E-ceilidh, m'lud, is a contraction of English ceilidh, a form of English social folk dance, thus distinct from Irish or Scottish social dance. The dance music (if one more used to the sweet strains of Johann Strauss can call it that) is often characterised by the use of rhythms and sometimes instruments more commonly associated with the pernicious influence of rock and roll and sometimes even using elements of what I believe the youth of today call 'club' music: but eceilidh also wholeheartedly embraces acoustic tradition-based English dance music.

The dances performed to this music, often in casual clothes, are similarly rooted in English traditional dance but have similarly been infected by Other Cultures on occasion - some dances are even newly invented by the MC rather than directly traceable back to 17th Century manuscripts.

The overall effect is intended to provide a more 'lively' and 'exciting' feel to an evening's social dancing than might be felt to be had by dancing to crackly 78s of ranks of piano accordians played by middle-aged bald gentlemen in matching velveteen sweaters. Regrettably I must report that Youth are attracted to such events in large numbers.

Callers such as Mr Gordon Potts, Ms Fee Lock, and Mr Nick Walden are often to be found announcing and describing the dances, sometimes in a flamboyant style, pandering to a concept of presenting the evening

as an occasion of pure enjoyment, an attitude not entirely suited to the serious-minded preservation of folk culture as an intellectual pursuit for gentlemen and ladies.

Bands such as The Old Swan Band, The Bismarcks, Random, Stomp (who even affect an umlaut in their name for heaven's sake), Whapweasel, the soon-to-be-late-lamented Jabadaw, and many others have all been described in the relevant pamphlets and Internet discussion fora as 'e-ceilidh'.

Many of the acts which appear at events such as the Sidmouth Festival Dancehouse and the Towersey Festival dance tent, not to mention the regular clubs up and down the country (such as the Phoenix ceilidhs of Horwich Lancashire, for which I myself have the honour to be Webmaster) would describe themselves as e-ceilidh.

There is even an Internet mailing list in existence by the name of e-ceilidh, which did much to promote the widespread adoption of the term but has in recent years become rather exclusive and solopsistic in nature.

For further information I would refer the honourable gentleman to the resources of Mr Google's Pot-pourrii of Internet Wibble, or perhaps more specifically to Mr Martin Kiff's fine website www.webfeet.org. Wikipedia, of course, states that the whole e-ceilidh thing was invented in 2005 in California.

[It should perhaps be stated for the hard of thinking there may be some exaggeration or even deliberate misrepresentation for comic effect in the previous piece.]
Written by Steve Mansfield, who runs the site lesession.co.uk.