Weaving the traditions of Dance, Music, Art & Language

Celtic Junction Arts Center

Best Cultural Center in North America –IrishCentral, 2018

836 Prior Avenue, St. Paul, MN, 55104

A 501(c)(3) organization

Scottish Cèilidh, Sept 23

7:30pm. $7 admission at the door. CIM cash bar will be open!

The first half of the evening will be your opportunity to get up and give us a song, a poem, play a tune, even tell a story - or just sit back and enjoy the cèilidh atmosphere with a beverage from the CIM cash bar. For the second half, we will push back the chairs and enjoy Scottish cèilidh dancing with music by the wonderful Neil Gunn & The Gunn Slingers. These social dances will be “called”, so you can learn as you go!


People crowded into the warm croft house, depositing ale cans and whisky bottles on the kitchen table for all to share. Some folks uncorked their whisky and threw the caps away, knowing the bottle would be emptied before the night was out. Women made cheese and corned beef sandwiches, which the children of the house distributed as the visitors settled on chairs, couch and floor around the fireside in the lounge. And the music began. Each visitor in turn would choose a song or a ballad, recite a poem, tell a story, play a favorite air, share something - anything - with the crowd. Whatever they had to contribute was welcomed by all. 

Ceilidh dances brought the whole community together; anyone and everyone, regardless of age or terpsichorean skill, was swept up in the joy of Scottish country dancing. Neighbors and strangers whirled and collided and blended together, accelerating from sedate waltzes through eightsome reels, and culminating in the centrifugal chaos of a 'Strip The Willow.' 

All this was brought to mind on Friday, June 17, when Laura Mackenzie organized a "Scottish Ceilidh" at the Celtic Junction in Saint Paul. It began just like a traditional Highland house ceilidh, with a delightful hour of songs, tunes and storytelling by anyone willing to step up to the mike. The 'entertainers' were from - and of - the community, welcomed, supported and applauded by friends and families, building a connection between stage and audience. Then, after a refreshment break, Neil Gunn and The Gunn Slingers did a masterful job leading a session of ceilidh dancing; again, it was as free and open as anything we ever experienced in our Highland village hall. And as wild. 

As we left the Celtic Junction that night, Barb turned to me and exclaimed, 'I haven't had that kind of fun since we left the Highlands.' I agreed - it was the best ceilidh this side o' the Water.