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CEILIDHS? THEY'RE REELLY ENGLISH; Author claims traditional Scots tunes and dances originated south of Border.

Byline: George Mair

It's the world-famous Scottish knees-up that comes with a guarantee of a great dance.

But the author of a new book has controversially claimed that ceilidhs are English.

And, to make matters worse, Andy Greig says the Gay Gordons and Dashing White Sergeant also have their origins elsewhere.

research Writer Andy The 61-year-old has spent decades studying the traditional Celtic gatherings for his collection of 100 Favourite Ceilidh Dances. But the guidebook, which is published later this month, contains only "a handful" of dances from Scotland.

Greig, a London-born musician and dance caller who has lived in Dunblane for 25 years, says Scottish ceilidhs have evolved over the last two decades to include dances from around the world.

Scotland is as famous for its ceilidhs and folk legends such as Andy Stewart as it is for its whisky. More than 100 ceilidhs are held in Scotland every weekend, it is estimated.

But Greig said: "Whisper this quietly - the Gay Gordons isn't even a Scottish dance.

"Originating in continental Europe in the 1800s, it's named after the Gordon Highlanders who were renowned for their colourful clothing."

He describes the Dashing White Sergeant as "quintessentially Scottish although the dance steps apparently originated from Sweden". The steps were set to music written by Sir Henry Rowley Bishop - an English composer - in 1826.

The Foula Reel, a dance from Shetland which imitates the action of a loom, is also Swedish in origin, Greig claims.

Even the popular Flying Scotsman, he says, was written by an English wartime cryptographer.

Greig added: "You can probably count the number of Scottish dances on two hands.

"The whole concept of these dances came from the European tradition. They were distilled through the higher reaches of society by dancing masters and percolated down to the common man and you got regional variations." 100 Favourite Ceilidh Dances, Luath Press, PS7.99.


folk hero Entertainer Andy Stewart

research Writer Andy

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 11, 2016
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