Tales from NE Ceilidhs : Strange gigs
Every ceilidh is different, although some are more unpredicatable than others. We used to find 21st celebrations were nearly always good, but birthdays for 18 years old were a no-no because it was so hard to get them to dance, but then we had a couple of really great evenings with this age group. But every band will have experienced nights when no-one seems to want to dance and others when there is no stopping them. Two of our most surprising best nights were at a Pakistani wedding in Saint Andrews, and at Crathes with a group of international students from Austria, Spain and Italy, none of whom had ever experienced a ceilidh before.
The Baker's do was a Chistmas party for well-known craft baker. It had been booked nine months earlier by the son of the master baker. Just before we started the faither stood up and announced that “I wint ye a tae ken I didnae book this Band, an a dinna ken fit like it wi' turn oot” What a memorable start. Strangely the evening went quite well!
The nightmare wedding was at Insch and one family had booked a disco and the other our band. The two groups didn't seem to see eye to eye at all and sat on opposite sides of the Hall glowering at each other. We were on first, but it was hard work getting anyone to dance and the atmosphere was leaden. As soon as our time was up we escaped as quickly as possible, and so we noticed, did many of the guests. Oh dear. The marriage didn't last long either, and we heard that they separated within a few months.
The Town House gig had been booked by an International Medical Research Group, to follow their conference dinner in the Aberdeen Town House. The venue was a large and beautiful upper room in the Town House. It had been booked for months. We arrived when they were still eating their dinner. However, a Town House jobsworth stopped us setting up the PA: “Ther'll be nae dancing here ye ken , the flair'll nae tak it!“ How do you run a ceilidh when there's no dancing allowed because the floor isn't up to it? The answer, after a panic consultation (thank goodness they were still eating, which gave us a breather) was to get the audience on our side by explaining the situation, then play some tunes that they would have danced to, to sing some Scottish songs (happily we could all sing a bit) and to tell a few jokes. All in all it went remarkably well and we were quite pleased with ourselves.
The Pitoddrie Disabled Football Supporters had booked us for their annual get together. When they booked we asked what they would like in the way of dances and they said just the usual mixture. We repeated the question nearer the time and got the same answer: just what you usually do. When we arrived they were only part way through their meal. Thank goodness, for we saw that they were not only disabled but all in wheelchairs, each with a carer. Panic, panic. Happily, by the time they had finished eating, we had reinvented some of the simpler dances for carers pushing wheelchairs. These went surprisingly well, and we felt that we had given the company (and ourselves) a completely novel (and also very satisfying) experience.
The (well maybe best not name them) booked us two years running. The first year it had been hard work getting them to dance but the second was worse. The drink is subsidised at their hall, and this had been taken advantage of by most of those present. By the end of the evening we were really struggling to get even a single set on the floor. When we got to the Cumberland Square Eight, the dancers were so drunk that they were incapable of doing the moves. For the first time ever we had to abandon a dance because of inebriation. Fortunately it was more or less the end of the evening and we could bow out with Auld Lang Syne, which anyone who can stand up can join in!
Its rarely dull in a Ceilidh Band.