Scottish Country Dancers

Studies show that people are healthier and happier when they join like-minded others in hobbies, activities and clubs. Scottish Country dancing is one such activity. Anyone, of any age, can join, costs are minimal and clubs exist all over the world, including Japan, of all places. Obviously you don’t have to have a drop of Scottish blood in you to participate in Scottish Country Dancing. I don’t and in one-and-a-half years (it is seven-and-a-half years now in 2015) I’ve graduated from providing comic relief to the other dancers to getting most of the steps right. And from the beginning it has been a lot of fun.

Join me as I interview Gladys Farrant of the Scottish Country Dance Club in Kaitaia in New Zealand’s Far North.

Gladys is a shining testament to the value of Scottish Country Dancing (SCD) and the benefits of activity in general. At 75-years-young (she’s in her 80s now as I update this in 2015), she tutors Scottish Country Dancing and takes tap dancing lessons with a group of chronologically-younger dancers.

Gladys outlines her life with dance, the history and practice of Scottish Country Dancing, and her travels in America and England. She was a nanny and her husband Brian was a chauffeur with a wealthy family in LA in the course of their travels.

In the interview you will hear some of the types of music associated with SCD: a jig, a strathspey and a reel.

SCD is certainly good for circulation, beneficial for the brain and an opportunity to socialize with like-minded people.

And, as the following video shows, it is for young people too:

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Our most recent Céilí (pronounced ‘Kay-lee’) was celebrated on Saturday, January 17th in the old, wooden-floored Mangonui Hall here in New Zealand’s Far North. The hall is situated across from the wharf in the quaint fishing village of the same name.

Doubtless Bay

Doubtless Bay

By the way, Mangonui means ‘big shark’ and this is time of the year when the beautiful and harmless (to humans, at least) Bronze Whaler sharks come into Doubtless Bay to give birth.

I’ve mentioned our Céilís in previous posts and thought I’d take the time to tell you a little bit more about these great community events.


As always, participants had a great time. The local Céilí band, Spootiskerry Spraoi (meaning ‘oyster witch having fun’) did their usual outstanding job of entertaining and inspiring those who wished to get up and dance. At a Céilí there is no obligation to dance. Some go simply to enjoy the music and camaraderie. As everyone says, ‘It’s great fun to watch.’


The music and dance is mainly Celtic, meaning that much of the music has its roots in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, SW England and Brittany. The original Celts moved into southern Europe from the East several thousand years ago and eventually migrated to the British Isles. Their descendents can be found throughout Europe today.


This is folk dancing for the whole family with some dances having their origins in places as diverse as Greece and the Ukraine. Anyone, regardless of age or experience, can join in. Every dance is demonstrated and called. In other words, there is plenty of guidance provided throughout. And the emphasis is always on having fun!


Our Céilí happens on the third Saturday of every month. The doors open and the music starts at 7.00pm and the dancing begins at about 7.30pm. Entrance fees are $2 per adult plus a plate for supper (in other words, it’s a potluck). Entry is free for accompanied children. You have to admit this is a good deal for an evening out.


One of the traditions of Céilís is that anyone can contribute an item during the course of the night – for example a song, a dance, a joke or a story.


This is good old fashioned fun for all ages in an alcohol free setting in the enchanting ambience of historic Mangonui Hall on the waterfront of a placid and gorgeous harbor. We (our family) feel absolutely blessed to be part of the Céilí community. These monthly events are brought about through the combined voluntary efforts of many people including the band members. I encourage anyone out there to initiate dances like this. They are incredible community-building affairs. They say the Aquarian Age is about working together in groups. Our Céilí embodies this principle. By the way, the traditional Gaelic spelling of Céilí is Céilídh.


Here are the names of some of the dances that we often do:


Gay Gordons
Dashing White Sergeant
Strip the Willow
Virginia Reel

Two Step



The video is not from our Céilí but gives you a sense of the fun of it!