The tradition of the Ceili comes from the days when people had to entertain themselves and each other. There was no television to stare googly-eyed at for hours. There were no movie theaters or radios. If there was music, it was live, and if there was entertainment, it usually involved most of the community.
It's a concept the members of the Yampa Valley Ceili Society want to bring back to Steamboat.
Much like barn dances and contra dances familiar in the United States, the Irish used to gather in pubs and community centers to dance, hear music and tell stories.
Tonight, after the opening reception for the "Metamorphosis" art show winds down at the Depot Art Center, the fiddles and pipes will start playing and feet will start moving.
The YVCS has hosted Ceilis in the past, but this weekend's Ceili is shaping up to be a more fluid free-for-all rather than the usual concert-style performances of the past. This time, attendees are invited to bring poetry, stories and musical instruments that fit into the folk tradition.
"This is not an open mic or a jam session, but it is an all-inclusive social night," YVCS member Gary Burman said. "Every aspect of the evening is open to the public. There will be no band performance. People are welcome to share in the folk tradition -- a toast, a joke, a story, anything they would like to share."
There will be chairs along the walls for resting, but there will not be chairs for sitting in concert rows. This night is for participating as much as people feel comfortable, Burman said.
Tonight's Ceili falls on Oct. 29, a day celebrated as the Celtic New Year or Samhain (pronounced Sow-in). It's the day of the last harvest in the Celtic tradition and the beginning of a new year. The day is marked with food, singing, stories and dancing.
Much of what the YVCS has planned for tonight is part of the Samhain, including a Worry Tree at the door.
"It's part of the Celtic tradition. You leave your worries at the door with the tree," YVCS member Nora Parker said.
On Friday, people will dance to the instruction of a caller following live and recorded music.
Members of the YVCS will demonstrate a complicated 12-person dance they have been working on called the Fairy Reel.
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