This week’s meme is inspired by my mother-in-law, Alice, that’s her in the purple at the back of the shot. Alice lives in the house she was born in, on a croft on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides.
Every Wednesday evening, a small group of locals, and sometimes visitors, gather in the local hotel where Alice leads the ceilidh dancing group.
These days, the term ‘ceilidh’ (pronounced ‘kay-lee’) tends to refers to an evening of dancing, an informal, joyful, often boisterous event, bringing together all ages and backgrounds. Any Scottish wedding would be incomplete without a ceilidh for the wedding dance, and since children are taught the basic dances at school, most people will know enough to get up and join in.
But traditionally a ceilidh had a wider role, it would be a communal gathering, for people to come together to hear the news, share gossip, celebrate life events, maybe even find a sweetheart. People would gather in their homes, or meeting places, for an evening of story-telling, music and song, as well as dancing. It’s truly a community event, and looked forward to immensely by everyone in the area.
This is the way of the Harris ceilidh group too. People come not just to dance, but for an opportunity to catch up on the news, share the gossip. The spoken language is Gaelic, although Gaelic speakers are a considerate bunch, and easily switch to English around a ‘Sassenach’ like me.
They’re the first to admit they’ll never be the most gracious of dancers, and grumble good-heartedly as Alice chivvies us all onto the floor for a ‘Hooligan’s Jig’ or a ‘Dashing White Sergeant’. There’s never enough men, so some of the ladies are given white sashes and dance the men’s parts. Alice patiently walks us through the steps, the band (two high school students) strike up and off we go, whirling and twirling around the room. By the time the music finishes we are breathless and happy, eyes smiling, pulses racing.
Alice says that the ceilidh dancing group is not just about the physical exercise, the social contact is vital to the emotional and mental wellbeing of people who live in these isolated communities, and looking around I see that.
It’s a good metaphor for life, and for business. Identify your community, connect with them, support them and make them feel good about themselves. Find a way to engage with them in a way that works for them, whether that’s by email, blogging, social media, video or something else.
Give them something that inspires them, informs them, makes them feel good about themselves and they will learn to trust you and want to come back for more of what you do.
If you need a hand developing the content that will reach out to your potential clients, then get in touch, I’d love to learn more about what you do and help you tell your story.