Where to Dance
in the San Francisco Peninsula Area
Types of Irish Dance
- Ceili Dancing
- Social dancing. Fairly simple movements with a high degree of repetition.
Most dances are "mixers" where you dance in one place for a while
and then move as a couple and dance with the couple in the next line. You
usually wind up dancing with everyone, at some point in the evening.
- Set Dancing
- Like square dancing, but with more complicated formations. You start and
end the dance with the same set of people (generally 4 couples in a square).
Includes polkas. In some dances you trade partners, so meet others. Can be
done with simple steps, or you can add "battering" -- percussive
footwork that individuals add on their own to add flair and enhance the rhythm
of the music. Like sean-nos dancing (below), it's hard to find someone that
teaches battering. But it's battering that puts set dancing into a class by
itself. (Good batterers add plasitc taps to their shoes for a lounder sound.)
- Step Dancing
- Either in soft shoes or "hard shoes" (shoes with fiberglass taps,
so they don't mar the floor). Solo dances (even if many people are dancing
at one time). This is the no-hands style of dancing where people cover a lot
of ground. The most complicated footwork in the world!
- Sean-nós ("shay-nohs") Dancing
- Old style step dancing. Uses shoes with extra leather for the dull, muted
"thud" of the Irish drum (bodhran --"bau-rahn") instead
of the ringing "taps" of fiberglass or metal. Some styles emphasize
use of arms. There isn't much movement in this style. The dancer tends to
stay in one place, and movements are smaller. The point of it is the quality
of the sound, like someone playing a drum, rather than how high they lift
their leg or how much ground they cover. It's hard to find someone who teaches
this style outside of Ireland, but it's one that deserves a resurgence.
The listing below covers the dances I know about. For a more complete
list, go to http://sf.ccewest.org/dance/dance.html
- Second Sunday: Irish Cultural Center, across from the San
Francisco zoo, just up the hill from Sloat. Beginner lessons at 6:00. Dancing
starts at 7:00. $5 or so.
- Third Saturday: Trinity Cathedral, San Jose. 81 North 2nd
Street. On the corner of 2nd and St. Johns, across from the park. Beginner's
lessons at 7:30. Dancing starts at 8:00. $10.
Fourth Saturday , even numbered months: St. Athanasious
church, Rengstorff Ave., Mountain View. Half a block on the bay side of Central
Expressway. Starts around 8:30. $10.
First Thursday : Shannon Arms Pub, San Franciso. On Taraval,
just down the hill from 19th. Starts around 7:30. Free.
- Tuesdays: Lilly Mac's Pub, Sunnyvale, Murphy
Ave. Starts around 8:30. $5 donation requested for the muscians.
- Third Tuesday: O'Neill's Pub, San Mateo. B Street, just
up from 2nd. 8:30 to 11:00.
What a treat to live in the bay area. This form of dancing is really hard to find, and is absolutely lovely. (It's like Step Dancing, without having to be ramrod stiff. It's all about the rhymic percussion!)
- First and Third Monday: Ashkenaz. 1317 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA. 7:30-9:30 pm
Learn Sean-nós dancing, swap steps, and play tunes!
Irish Dance Instruction
- Ceili Dancing
- Tuesdays, St. Stephens Green, Los Altos. 169 Main Street.
Lessons at 7:00 PM Dancing from 9 to 11:00.
- Step Dancing and Ceili Dancing
- Kineally School of Dance. Los Gatos Community Center (not in Summer
- McGrath School of Dance, Danville/Dublin/Livermore.
- Kineally School of Dance. San Francisco.
- Set Dancing
- Thursdays (except the first Thursday): Sunset Recreation Center, on
Lawton St., between 19th and Sunset Blvd. (Its big enough that its marked
on S.F. maps.) Starts around 7:30 or 8:00. Free.
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