CeilidhKids at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023
September 6, 2023
On Friday 25th August 2023 we joined CeilidhKids at Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a morning of fun and dancing. The beautiful Edinburgh venue Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, where the event was held through August, filled with families with young dancers eagerly moving to Scottish tunes. Here you can find out more about CeilidhKids and the history behind it from Caroline Brockbank, the CeilidhKids founder:
CeilidhKids has been on the go for a while now – since 2007 in fact. It was only meant to be a six week project for my own children and their friends, however sixteen years later, here we are, somehow running family ceilidh sessions every morning at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe…
When I was a child and a teenager in the North East of England, Friday night dancing class was the highlight of my week, and having danced all through University and become a RSCDS teacher and ceilidh caller myself I naturally wanted to share my enthusiasm with my children as soon as they were old enough to walk. However I was horrified at the first so-called ‘family ceilidhs’ I took them to; loud, wild, late at night and going on too long, expecting children to hold hands with strangers whilst getting trampled and deafened. There’s nothing like annoyance to act as an incentive, so I booked a hall for six weeks, invited my children’s friends and their parents along, and set about making ceilidh dancing preschooler-friendly.
Before long I was getting bookings to run ceilidhs for schools, nurseries, churches, and birthday parties, usually for families with preschoolers but sometimes for older children too. Living in Edinburgh and with CeilidhKids having become a full time job, the obvious next move (at least to me) was to transplant myself to the Fringe during August and run open-to-all, preschooler-friendly ceilidhs there...
It’s a very well-known fact that bringing anything to the Fringe is prohibitively expensive, however I have the huge advantage of living in Edinburgh anyway. In addition I have been extremely fortunate to be able to work under the auspices of the Laughing Horse Free Fringe Festival, who charge a modest sum for admin, publicity, and use of their technical equipment and nothing at all for venue hire. At 10am everyone who has been out drinking and enjoying questionable comedy the night before is safely in bed sleeping off their hangovers, leaving the venues empty for the only people awake at that time in the morning – families with small children. Which is how I come to be able to invite parents to bring their children to dance in a ballroom, under chandeliers. It’s above a pub, but nevertheless the venue is quite spectacular, and I love to witness the excited gasps of the families as they reach the top of the stairs and find themselves looking into a really impressive ballroom.
Then we spend 45 minutes each morning dancing a simplified Gay Gordons, driving the train in a modified Flyng Scotsman, impersonating Giants, Trees and Frogs, playing musical spots, and finishing in grand style with Circassian Circle. I always ask where people have come from, and it’s usually a 50-50 mix of locals and visitors, some from as far away as Australia, South Korea and Japan this year. At the end the children choose stickers from my box, and leave looking pink-cheeked and tired. Meanwhile the parents say ‘they should sleep well tonight’, if I’m lucky, they pop a donation in my box, and, if they’re local, they often sign up to be on my events mailing list for the rest of the year!
Ewelina came along one day to take pictures and kindly brought biscuits too. The families were all very happy to have their photos taken, and here are the results.
Caroline at CeilidhKids
The RSCDS has recently opened a free Junior Membership for children under 12-years-old to encourage young dancers to dance Scottish. We are so pleased to have more and more branches and groups working with schools and starting classes for young dancers. To find out more please go to Join young dancers | Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (rscds.org)
You can view all photos from this event at Photo Gallery: CeilidhKids at Edinburgh Festival Fringe | Royal Scottish Country Dance Society (rscds.org)
For any questions on Junior Membership contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org