All the talk in the last post about hooleys got me thinking of this. Last September I took a trip to Seattle, WA as an AZ delegate for the Comhaltas Western Region Annual General Meeting and thinking back on the trip, this image is one that stands out in my mind. Each Comhaltas branch, though connected to the headquaters in Dublin, has its own identity; the Arizona branch is made up mostly of musicians while the Seattle and San Francisco branches are largely dance oriented. I had the pleasure to experience set dancing for the first time that weekend and it was a blast! We had two full sets going (that is 16 dancers) on the deck to live music provided by an uilleann piper and a fiddler.
Since most reading this won’t be familiar with set dances, they are folk dances based on quadrilles that were very popular in Ireland in the early 1900’s. In the 1930’s ceili dancing became very popular, followed by rock & roll in the 50’s and set dancing was all but forgotten. Obviously since folks are doing it in West coast America, it has regained some momentum again. The dancing is very fast paced and lively; if you’re thinking square dancing (though it is also based on quadrilles) you’re dead wrong! Most of the people I was dancing with were twice my age but had experience and the proper shoes for set dancing. I was reelin out there in my Chuck Taylors and my feet and legs paid the price the next day! If you’re interested, here is a link to a video from that same night: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dyNTeIFgPU