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Irish Ceili and Set Dancing

We gather to learn and do the traditional group social dances of Ireland. Beginners are always welcome. And you don't need to bring a partner!

* Irish set dancing in Madison! The 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month at 7:00pm, upstairs at The Brocach on the Capitol Square (7 West Main Street)

* Irish ceili dancing is taught through Madison School & Community Recreation. Class info can be found by visiting the events calendar or the class catalog on

In a nutshell -

Set dancing is done in groups of 4 couples standing in a square formation. The steps can be quick, but stay close to the ground with very little hopping. The couples use these steps to move into various patterns on the floor. Each set dance is comprised of a series of movements called figures and a body that is danced between each figure. Each figure is only danced once, sort of like the verses of a song. The body is repeated after each figure, sort of like the chorus of a song.

Ceili dancing is done in groups of 4 to 16 dancers with each person dancing as part of a couple or a trio. The dancers may be set up in a square, circle or long lines. The steps use more hopping than in set dancing (though avoiding the hopping is acceptable and encouraged for those with joint or other health issues). Like set dancing, dancers move in various patterns on the floor. However, ceili dances do not have figures and body structure. Instead, they have a few figures done back to back, and then they are all repeated several times.

Both Set and Ceili Dancing are great for getting your heart pumpin' and a lots of fun.