Where music and skill have a happy meeting!

There has been organized Irish Dancing in Davis since about 1990. It's useful to split discussion of it into two categories, because of the different levels of financial and other commitment needed.

Ceili or social dance

An "Irish Culture Club" started in the early 1990's at UC Davis as a way of getting access to campus resources. Classes in social dance were offered through the UCD Experimental College. Folks from the club and these classes met at places such as Mansion Cellars, Dempsey's (both Departed Businesses), on the patio at Sudwerk and in a private home. Many musicians generously came and played for dancers, which is a little different than a usual Irish music session (in that the tempos and tune choices have to match what the dancers request, rather than following the choices of the musicians).

A class in "Celtic Social Dancing" is offered at the Davis Art Center on Tuesday nights (it was Monday nights from January 2007 to August 2008, and was "Irish Ceili (Folk) Dance"). Instructors "Shirleigh Brannon" and DougWalter teach basic moves and figures of traditional Irish ceili and Scottish Country dances. We take students from easy dances such as Siege of Carrick to more challenging eight hands and choreographed team dances (when appropriate to their tolerance for enjoyment). The claim is that no partner or previous experience is needed, just soft shoes and love of the dance. Check the printed course catalog for more information.

Step and team dance

This is a solo form of dance. It is usually thought of as more balletic and rigorous (and when ceili dances are performed for recitals or competition they're often referred to as "team dances"). Different moves and routines are used for light shoe or hard shoe dances; the former is somewhat similar to Scottish Highland dancing, while the latter employs "battering steps" and clicks that were one basis for American Tap dancing (according to research by Jere Curry, among others).

Instruction in Irish step dance is available in Davis through the Raven Valley Irish Dance school, offering classes at Davis Art Center on Thursday nights. Davis dancers have also pursued instruction through the "McBride School of Irish Dance" and the "Kennelly School of Irish Dance". Both have classes in the Bay Area, the former coming as close to Davis as Vallejo, while the latter has a Sacramento class.

A class in "Teen/Adult Beginning Step Dance" is offered at the Davis Art Center on Tuesday nights (it was Monday nights from January 2007 to August 2008). Instructor "Shirleigh Brannon" teaches the beginnings of step dancing in a lower style but at a faster pace suitable for adults and teens. The printed course catalog has more information.


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2008-07-03 13:50:14   Is there an actual ceili anywhere in Davis anymore (ie. not just lessons, but a ceili that anyone can attend)? Is Shirleigh's ceili just for lessons, or can anyone come?

  • I don't think there is a ceili anywhere in Davis. The Art Center wants the facility used by students, so the class is not wide open. —DougWalter

There is an excellent ceili in Alameda on Monday nights, which you can find into on here: http://www.ilsitane.com/ceili.htm

There is also one at the Starry Plough in Berkeley at the same time, although this one is much smaller than the one in Alameda (I'd currently recommend the Alameda one.) —IDoNotExist

2008-08-15 16:13:14   I must say that the Ceili in Alameda is excellent (if a little bit far away). Live musicians. Friendly people. Hours of dancing. Many people from (or formerly from) Davis. And the traditional Ceili dances are mixed in with new dances and unusual (for a ceili) music. Definitely fun! —IDoNotExist

2022-07-10 13:13:48   Is there anyone doing Irish/Scottish social dance in Davis currently (as of 2022)? Lessons are OK but a ceili would be better...we moved in 2020 so I'm hoping that maybe things are getting started up again. —vsyverson