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Sunday 13 January 2013

The 10 "Commandments" of Irish Set (and Ceili) Dance Etiquette

This is the companion piece of two previously posted Irish Dancing  items: What is Irish Set Dancing? and Set Irish Dance terms.

Main Rule: HAVE FUN!


  • Irish Set dancing is vigorous, you can get tired quickly and people often sweat! 
  • As a matter of courtesy it is customary not to accept a request to dance after you have refused someone else. 
  • We recommend that two beginners not dance together the first few dances. Improvement comes more quickly by dancing with experienced partners. 
  • Same gender dance partners are not uncommon, especially if there is an unequal number of each gender. It takes experience, however, to switch roles. 
  • Eye contact is wonderful and helps avoid dizziness especially during swings. If this makes you uncomfortable simply look at your partner’s face. 

The 10 "Commandments" of Irish Set (and Ceili) Dance Etiquette

Etiquette is there to ensure everyone has a good time in social dance setting.

  1. If possible, wear dance shoes, they are safer and restrict injuries, never dance in your socks. Your outfit and accessories should be comfortable, safe and reflect the level of formality of the dance. Large jewellery can be a hazard, catching in a partner’s clothing or causing scratches. Long hair should be tied back to avoid whipping into someone else’s face or eyes. 
  2. Set up houses (squares) promptly when the music starts or at the caller’s request. Join the nearest house or line that is forming. If all nearby squares are filled, hold your hand up high so the caller can either guide you to where you are needed or get some other couple to join you.  
  3. If time permits, introduce yourself to others in the square. You will not only acquire a reputation for being friendly but you will meet many new and interesting friends. 
  4. Listen to the caller and do not talk when the caller is talking or calling. Not only is it rude, but many dancers may need the information offered. If you see a need to direct a fellow dancer, be sure that you are correct, and be gentle in your assistance. 
  5. If you are more experienced than others in your set, do help them know where to go with gestures of by offering the correct hand or shoulder. Do use only the simplest of verbal instructions. Don’t shout and don’t push. If possible, let their partners help them. 
  6. Think of the best interest of the group and take care not to hurt other dancers' feelings. Do not be too critical of others. 
  7. Be considerate of others on the dance floor – exercise good “floor-craft” and leave out fancy moves, high kicks, and spins. Do give extra support to an elderly or weak dancer, even at the expense of your own technique. 
  8. There is no acceptable excuse for rough handling of fellow dancers. Roughness is the mark of disrespect, whether by chance or choice and you will do well not to irritate a more experienced dancer. 
  9. Always dance to the level of your partner; you are there to ensure their enjoyment, not to embarrass them. Sharing the floor is important - obviously the first thing is to stay out of the way of others and avoid collisions. 
  10. Think ahead, be prepared to change directions and patterns and match the speed of others around you. More experienced dancers should give way to novices.

1 comment:

  1. Nice guidelines...!!!

    Strongly appreciated...!!

    Commandments are good...!!!


Until next time / Go dtí an chéad uair eile!