Lord of the Dance: My Night at the Church Ceilidh – 31 January 2015


Making a welcome return after a couple of years amiss, the latest January social evening at St Luke’s took the form of a ceilidh. Andrew Burdett put on his dancing shoes.

We’d barely all sat down when Ian Gilchrist rose to lead the first dance. And he’d barely started explaining the necessary steps when a knock was heard at the door. Here, earlier than expected, was supper: four heavy boxes with fifty fish-and-chip parcels, delivered fresh by a short, aproned cook.

Some of the ladies of St Luke's enjoying their fish-and-chip suppers.

Some of the ladies of St Luke’s enjoying their fish-and-chip suppers.
[PHOTO: © Andrew Burdett 2015]

Revd Sally Lynch revealed answers to the quiz-sheets, spread among the tables at the start of the evening.

Revd Sally Lynch revealed answers to the quiz-sheets, spread among the tables at the start of the evening.
[PHOTO: © Andrew Burdett 2015]

Dinner devoured and takeaway papers tidied away, Revd Sally revealed answers to the quiz-sheets placed as icebreakers on each of the tables. There followed a raffle – where prizes included a box of chocolates, a DVD box-set, and a bottle of wine — after which everyone felt rather ready to go home, having all had a lovely evening together.

Yet this could not be! There was still the small matter of the ‘ceilidh’ that our tickets referred to. “Looking at the difficulty with which some of the raffle prizewinners just ambled across the room, I dread to think how the dancing will go”, muttered a dissenting voice on my table. Fortunately, such fears proved unfounded. Among the attendees, there were some who proved remarkably nifty on their feet. Others – perhaps wisely, in light of their age – opted to sit and watch for much of the night.

But without exception, everybody entered fully into the spirit of the evening.

Ceilidh attendees get together for one move.

Ceilidh attendees get together for one move.
[PHOTO: © Andrew Burdett 2015]

The ceilidh's steps didn't come easily – Andrew struggled at first.

The ceilidh’s steps didn’t come easily – Andrew struggled at first.
[PHOTO: Ann Burdett 2015]

This was especially true in my own case when, towards the end of the night once pleasantly full of wine, I rose for the Eightsome Reel. Perhaps I forgot my own strength, or maybe I just allowed myself to get totally carried away, but poor Ruth Sheppard found herself being swung voraciously around the Hall. Gasps ensued from the ladies sat closest, whose outstretched legs suddenly felt frighteningly near the action. All eyes were on Ruth as she struggled to hold on – faster and faster, circling around, we were spinning in dizzying orbit of each other. “Go a bit gentler, Andrew”, my mother begged, as the music faded away on the stereo and Ruth sat down to try to get her breath back.

There was one last dance before the end, for which Ian invited all those who felt able to stand up. Given the exuberance of the night until this point, one could be forgiven for opting to simply take vicarious pleasure from this final jig. But for the thirty-odd revellers who did join arms, it was a happy end to a jolly night spent together.

This post was back-dated, having been written for the Spring/Summer 2015 edition of ‘InSpire’ magazine, and first published on 4 June 2015.

Andrew Burdett

Andrew Burdett is a twenty-something from Maidenhead in Berkshire, working for ITV News.