No luck of the Irish needed – good times always guaranteed!

Party in a style befitting of the Emerald Isle: reel like there’s no tomorrow and saturate your sweat with a pint at the bar

If you happen to come by Rysensteensgade 3 during the fourth weekend of October, you might be lucky enough to be met by the exciting sound of an Irish reel and frequent yells streaming out of the open windows. But it is not a concert – it is instead a frenetic session of Irish set dancing you have stumbled upon.

That date is one of the annual highlights for the CIS (Copenhagen Irish Set Dancers) because an Irish instructor (this time, Ultan Mulcahy) is invited over from the old country to teach the Danish dancers new sets and steps. There’s a workshop during the day, and a ceìlì – the Irish word for a ball – in the evening with live music.

But that’s not the only thing going on with the CIS. Every Monday night throughout the year – except during summer – a group of dancers, both beginners and the more experienced, meet in Frederiksberg for dancing in a most joyful atmosphere. Here local instructors, although still very able, teach the dancers new sets and lead them through old ones to lively Irish jigs, reels and polkas played on CDs – of which there is a great selection.

The dancers work hard and it can get extremely hot! As they say in Ireland: “It’s cheaper to dance than to heat the house.” There is a very friendly atmosphere, and after the dance there is always a smaller group who meet at the local pub for a beer.

There are set dancing groups not only in Copenhagen, but also in south, mid and west Jutland, with whom there are fruitful co-operations, whether it’s visiting each other or sharing the expenses of visiting Irish instructors.

There’s no better time to join CIS, because at the end of the present dance season, in June 2013, it will be celebrating its 20th anniversary! It will be marked by one hell of a night: an explosion of an international event with workshops and ceìlìs. However, it is still a while away and is currently in its planning stage.

Take a moment to imagine the scene at such an event as old and regular faces catch up, sometimes after absences spanning decades. And then, once the joyous reunions have dissipated, a cheerful and friendly atmosphere will settle in, punctuated by banter, as errors inevitably creep in, rippling across the floor.

Later, it will be lovely to see everybody dressed up for the ceìlì. And once the music gets going, it will take those gathered to a different dimension, and it will only be afterwards that you can truly say you were there.

“It is wonderful the way dance and music can unite,” enthuses John Christiansen, one of the CIS board members of the group, who is still reeling strong after years of dedication.

“A state of pure being with no thinking. You are in a state of sublimity, unbreakable. The band creates that state; no-one can explain how it happens; the band affects the dancers and the dancers the band – it’s a magical synergy. The dancers are suddenly the creators of the music and the musicians the creators of the dance.”

Newcomers are welcome to attend one of the regular Copenhagen Irish Set Dancers meetings at Skolen on Nyelandsvej, every Monday from 18:00 for old-style step dancing, or from 19:30 for set dancing. An annual membership is 1,000 kroner. However, newcomers are welcome to try it out three times free of charge before joining. Learn more at

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