Where to Dance

in the San Francisco Peninsula Area

Types of Irish Dance

Ceili Dancing
Social dancing. Fairly simple movements with a high degree of repetition. Most dances are "mixers" where you dance in one place for a while and then move as a couple and dance with the couple in the next line. You usually wind up dancing with everyone, at some point in the evening.
Set Dancing
Like square dancing, but with more complicated formations. You start and end the dance with the same set of people (generally 4 couples in a square). Includes polkas. In some dances you trade partners, so meet others. Can be done with simple steps, or you can add "battering" -- percussive footwork that individuals add on their own to add flair and enhance the rhythm of the music. Like sean-nos dancing (below), it's hard to find someone that teaches battering. But it's battering that puts set dancing into a class by itself. (Good batterers add plasitc taps to their shoes for a lounder sound.)
Step Dancing
Either in soft shoes or "hard shoes" (shoes with fiberglass taps, so they don't mar the floor). Solo dances (even if many people are dancing at one time). This is the no-hands style of dancing where people cover a lot of ground. The most complicated footwork in the world!
Sean-nós ("shay-nohs") Dancing
Old style step dancing. Uses shoes with extra leather for the dull, muted "thud" of the Irish drum (bodhran --"bau-rahn") instead of the ringing "taps" of fiberglass or metal. Some styles emphasize use of arms. There isn't much movement in this style. The dancer tends to stay in one place, and movements are smaller. The point of it is the quality of the sound, like someone playing a drum, rather than how high they lift their leg or how much ground they cover. It's hard to find someone who teaches this style outside of Ireland, but it's one that deserves a resurgence.

The listing below covers the dances I know about. For a more complete list, go to http://sf.ccewest.org/dance/dance.html

Ceili Dancing

Set Dancing

Sean-nós Dancing

What a treat to live in the bay area. This form of dancing is really hard to find, and is absolutely lovely. (It's like Step Dancing, without having to be ramrod stiff. It's all about the rhymic percussion!)

Irish Dance Instruction

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