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Solo Sabbatical

3 Céilí dancing

Continuing our Solo Sabbatical series, Brigid Fitzgerald went to see how a céilí dancing event in Dublin’s Garda Club could unite single folk on the hunt.

Well, are ya dancin’? Céilí Amór – the name alone had me curious. And further details only fuelled the fire. According to reports, it involved a casual event where fun is top priority and through old fashioned set dancing it is natural to approach anyone who might interest you. There had to be a catch.
I contacted organisers, Karen Brett and Deirdre Carter-Roche to find out more. The two set up the event earlier this year to offer something fresh and different to the dating scene. They believed people were looking for something besides speed dating and online dating. It seems they were right; two events in and over 480 people have attended so far, with all funds raised going to charity. It was too good to be true, surely, and I was more certain than ever, there had to be a catch.
I rounded up some pals to help me investigate. Shaggy was willing, but Scooby required some Scooby snacks to be convinced. We arrived at the Garda Club on Dublin’s Harrington Street just after 9pm. The venue seemed to check out – definitely old style with the right sort of atmosphere. There wasn’t yet much dancing but a lot of people were standing around awkwardly watching a Riverdance-style display. The crowd was made up of a 50:50 male to female ratio, ensured by issuing male and female tickets online. I decided we might all need some Scooby snacks, so I headed for the bar.
After a short while the MC took to the floor and managed to turn an awkward and embarrassed looking crowd standing on the periphery into a mass of dancers. All but Scooby, who was on coat watch duty.
“Are ya dancin’?” enquired two gentlemen of Shaggy and I.
“Are you askin’?” we replied.
Turned out they were, so we joined the throng on the floor.
The MC demonstrated the moves and gave instructions as best he could, but was largely ignored by the enthusiastic crowd. It’s fair to say that nobody glided anywhere that evening, but there was plenty of swinging and sweating and laughing. If you’re familiar with set dancing, you’ll know it involves a variety of partner changes and moves, which means bumping into (quite literally much of the time) a good deal of people. A casual and fun way to meet lots of people was promised and it seemed to be on the level.
Nobody took the dancing or themselves too seriously. There was lots of chat, lots of dance and lots of laughs. You could be asked to dance or simply join in with a set – it didn’t matter – which meant the only wall flowers were those like Scooby – willing ones.
The interval was well-deserved and involved platters of sandwiches. No joke. We used the time to take in the lay of the land. Groups were mingling, couples were being created and the sambos were a roaring success.
More dancing followed with the MC encouraging any opportunity for mingling. A DJ set was to follow where couples could have a chance to chat away under the watchful eye of the MC. Scooby was restless though, needed her kennel, so we hit the road. Our investigation was over.
It had seemed too good to be true; an old time céilí, casual mingling, a 50:50 ratio, all for charity. There had to be a catch but we were stumped, we couldn’t find a single flaw.

Visit www.ceiliamor.ie for more details. Upcoming nights will be held in Carlow and Dublin.

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