Singing and twirling on a
densely packed dance floor
Last night, I went to my second ceilidh of my life and the second ceilidh I’d attended in two days. Where the other night’s was at the prestigious and formal Bute Hall, this one was hosted at one of UofG’s student unions, Queen Margaret Union.
This time, I have a video that I took myself! (I don’t know what the name of this dance was, though.)
It was just as much fun as the one the previous night, though in a different, more club-like venue. The band consisted of two accordionists, a drummer, and the caller on keys. He called many of the dances I’d learned the previous night and some new ones, including a “progressive” called the “Canadian Barn Dance” where the dancers switch partners after every few moves.
All right. Let me tell you, some people really have no rhythm. When it came to dancing, I really didn’t think I did either. But last night was one of the very special times where I felt ridiculously proud to be a musician: After switching with partners who couldn’t keep a beat around the dance floor for probably the twentieth time, I got to this guy who, after a few counts, leaned in and asked, “Are you a musician?”
“Yes!” I shouted over the music, completely intrigued. Where was he going with this?
“I can tell,” he said. “Every other person I’ve danced tonight with doesn’t know how to count. What instrument?”
When I told him I played violin, he yelled “It’s obvious!” … Before I could even giggle or laugh or thank him, I was spun away to dance with my next partner.
After the Canadian Barn Dance was over, he even went out of his way to find me and tell me that he played french horn. Regrettably, he was gone before I could even catch his name. But I wasn’t too upset over that when the dance floor turned from a ceilidh right into a club event, and I was dancing, dancing, dancing away with hundreds of other people.
If you watched the video of the ceilidh, you might think that that wasn’t many people at all on the dance floor. You’d be right. It wasn’t, especially once the club music started. Students who weren’t interested in traditional Scottish dancing flocked to the floor, and there were hundreds and hundreds of them. I couldn’t see the floor at all.
To say it was fun is a vast understatement.
Having never been to a club in the United States, and certainly never to a house party at my college, this was my first truly wild and crowded dance floor experience. All other dances I’d ever been to were either at weddings or at homecomings and prom events. This isn’t out of being “sheltered” or not being invited to college parties, no — I absolutely love dancing (whether I’m good at it or not is another question, of course) — but for one thing, I’m still too young to go legally clubbing in the States, and for another, the party scene at my college is far too reflective of our surrounding area’s demographics for me to feel comfortable there. I’m all for getting loose and having a great time, but I’m not about to do it in a room steeped with white privilege and toxic masculinity, especially not when I’ve heard horror stories regarding how women and women of color in particular have been treated at my college’s parties. And of course, there’s also the fact that I care more about my positions as a student leader on campus and my relationships with faculty and administration much more than I value having fun at the expense of losing those positions and staining my record all just for a reckless Friday night at parties that most of my friends who have gone to say they’re completely boring or terrible anyway. TL;DR: I haven’t gone to a party in the States because I haven’t felt comfortable with the crowds at the parties and its repercussions at home, but I am comfortable with the party scene itself.
This fall, I am taking advantage of every opportunity Scotland is offering me to finally be as silly and confident without abandon as I’ve always wanted to be. And I already have been. (All within reason and responsibility, of course. Don’t worry, Mom and Dad. I won’t forget it’s called study abroad, not party abroad. But classes don’t start until the 19th, and between now and then, UofG is offering tons and tons of social events and parties, and I intend to make the most of all of them.)
So, with a dance floor as diverse as the one last night, of course I was going to be on that dance floor. Of course I was going to stay on it as long as I could. I danced with folks from all over the globe: Nigeria, Greece, Chile, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Slovenia, France, Italy… the list went on. Where I might have felt entirely uncomfortable at a party back home in the States, here, though we were in all technicality strangers, I was already among friends: beautiful, diverse friends from diverse backgrounds and cultures, each with a different story to tell, each offering their own contributions to a vast multiplicity and variety in the room that I just can’t get back home. That’s not to say that Naperville doesn’t have its share of diversity — it’s just that here, there’s even more. TL;DR: I’m getting so much more fulfillment on the diversity front here at UofG than I’d ever anticipated, and it’s exactly that diversity that’s making the party scene so satisfying for me.
I was begrudgingly convinced to do the karaoke bar happening upstairs by one of the people I’d been dancing with.
The bar was packed, though, and not even just by international students, but also UofG students. Students who were more familiar with the campus climate and culture than I was. It was terrifying and intimidating. So I grabbed Emily, a good friend and classmate from my home college, and after much hesitation, we made the commitment to get up there.
We sang “Sk8er Boi” by Avril Lavigne.
And it was awesome.
(I also feel compelled to say, before anyone makes their assumptions, that I was completely sober during this madness.)
Thank you, Tejo and Daniel, for documenting this completely wild and unforgettable moment in my life. And thank you, Emily, for being completely wild with me.
It’s about 7 in the evening as I’m writing this, and in two hours, my flatmates and I will be headed to another social event. I can’t wait to be at it again, having all the fun that I wish was as easily accessible at home as it is here.