Swing your partner

Ceilidh / Barn Dance Band


  Play information      

Available as a two to four piece band including caller depending on your event requirements.
For price and availability - contact Kate on 01202 914128 or email katecarpenter@hotmail.co.uk.


What is a Ceilidh / Barn Dance?

A Céilidh, Céili or celidh (pronounced kay-lee) is a social event, typically with Celtic music and dancing. Incidentally the word céilidh is Gaelic for 'visit', which denotes the event's origin as an informal home gathering.

Folk dancing events are often referred to as barn dances, despite being held in locations other than barns. A barn dance can be a Ceilidh, with traditional Irish or Scottish dancing, and people unfamiliar with either format often confuse the two terms. However, a barn dance can also feature square dancing, Morris dancing, Contra dancing, English Country Dance, or any other kind of dancing, usually with a live band and a caller.

Traditionally the music was provided by acoustic instruments such as fiddle, accordion, tin whistle, flute, guitar and bodhrán. In more recent times as instruments have been amplified drums and electric bass guitar have been added. The music is cheerful and lively, and the basic steps are taught and can be learned easily; a walk through is usually provided for new dancers before the start of each dance.

FAQ’s and extra information

Home - Clients comments - Contact us - FAQs

About the band

Kate Carpenter (caller, whistle, fiddle, harp, and octave fiddle).

Kate playing the harpBarn danceKate was inspired to learn the violin as a small child because her father played Scottish dance tunes to her on his violin. Throughout her life she has played in many orchestras with the violin and flute, recorder ensembles and choirs, in a wide selection of musical styles. She also took up Scottish dancing as a child and as an adult has regularly danced at displays and tattoos in the South of England, and four tattoos at the Royal Albert Hall. An opportunity arose to train as an RSCDS Scottish country dance teacher in 2004, this was when she started calling for Barn Dances/Ceilidhs.

Robert Baird invited her to join his “Dorset” Scottish band, and she went with this band to play in a Scottish festival in Moscow, and has also played with Ken Martlew at summer schools in Germany and France. She plays at various local music sessions every week and has now played for dancing for 20 years.

During the day she teaches violin, recorders and saxophone in school and at home. She started an under 19's folk orchestra with some of her pupils, playing folk music at various festivals and local places/ events etc. Her latest acquisition is a folk harp, which she is busy practising!!

Jim Lush (piano accordion, continental chromatic accordion and fiddle).

Jim playing the button accordionDorsetJim started playing the recorder at school and soon progressed to the clarinet at the age of seven after wanting an Acker Bilk record for his birthday (always was an odd child!). He put aside the clarinet when he moved to secondary school and joined Kingsleigh school brass band progressing through the ranks to be first cornet.

Playing the accordion came about purely by accident. Jim's step-father bought a small second hand accordion to accompany morris music with, but gave up after a while. Jim picked it up and got a few tunes out of it, the rest as they say is history.

Jim, formally of 'Carnac', 'The Highly Strung Band' and 'Murphy's Lore' has almost 35 years experience playing for Barn dances. He can also be found playing Irish music in pub sessions where there is a slimmest hint of free beer....

John Reeks (guitar and mandolin).

John at Barn danceCelidhJohn took up the guitar at the relatively late age of 21. He had classical lessons for a year, after which his playing was confined to his bedroom for several years where he mastered the art of playing by ear to an eclectic record collection. John then embarked on a Folk and Ragtime course with Robin Greenwood. His confidence grew and he joined the Dorset Guitar Society for a while, then moved on to folk sessions in local pubs, where he finally found his niche playing both guitar and mandolin.

Occasionally, John stands in for absent guitarists and has played with barn dance bands Black Sheep, The Bushwhackers and Cottage Industry. John has also played in Alkmaar, Holland. John now plays alongside Kate and Jim in Swing your Partner, he has also recorded and performed nostalgic folk songs with the Blandford - based group Waifs and Strays.

Ed Duckmanton (Bodhran).

CelidhEd has always enjoyed being part of the folk scene and in earlier times would would have been found strumming his guitar to traditional tunes. He fell in love with Irish music after hearing a recording of 'Hey Jude' by De Dannan. It took one of lifes tragedies to finally inspire him to play the 'goat' (bodhran) both in gigs and the local Ed playing the bodhranIrish sessions with Kate, Jim and John.





A brief history of Swing your Partner

Swing your Partner Barn Dance Band was formed in 2005 when Jim & Kate started playing Barn dances under the name of Skara Brae. This fulfilled the growing demand for small parties where a large band was too expensive. In 2007 John and Ed were recruited to give more rhythm to the whole and as Skara Brae was primarily a traditional 'Scottish Dance Band' they decided to change the name of the Ceilidh Band to Swing Your Partner.

They play Scottish, Irish, English and other folk music for dancing, and have a string of bookings for 2018/ 2019 onwards where you can come and meet them. Most dances are private functions e.g. Weddings, anniversaries and private parties but they do play for public dancing. Please email/ telephone to find out dates and venues. Book well in advance to secure the date you want as they are extremely busy.

N.B. When booking a Ceilidh/Barn Dance it is the caller who really determines the success of the evening not the band (they determine the sound). Some bands use a variety of callers so if you want to see in advance what the evening will be like, you would be wise to check out the caller rather than the band. Kate always calls for Swing your partner.


Home - About us - Contact us - FAQs


Clients comments


"Dear Kate and the other musicians

A huge thank you to you all for your part in making my 60th birthday such a great success. It was such great fun. Many have said that it was the best party they have been to for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone so happy and enthusiastic - loved the atmosphere. Thank you for your skill Kate in firmly and warmly instructing and sorting people out! I particularly liked you teaching by demonstrating, your touches of humour and the good range of dances. The quality of the playing was excellent and loved you all joining in 'In the jungle' - Jasmin the singer - my niece was dead impressed that you could all do that - true musicians in my book!
Ali xx"

"Hello Kate

Just a short e-mail thanking you once again for the fabulous evening you provided for my good Wife's 50th birthday party last Thursday evening....... Our friends have not stopped talking about the amount of effort that you particulary put in the other evening in getting everyone "going" and how everyone had thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We will have no hesitation in recommending your first class trio to anyone. Thanks once again and please feel free to use my recommendation in any way you wish.

Kindest regards."



"Hi Kate
Tony and I wanted to say again thank you for making our day so much fun. Everyone has told us how much they enjoyed the dancing.

We had a fantastic time! Everybody enjoyed themselves so much, it was better than a disco because everybody joined in together.
Take care and we look forward to seeing you all again soon."
K & T (Wedding Barn Dance)


"I really enjoyed your dance as it was much better than others I have been to. You gave really clear instructions and gave people time to get it right so I knew what I was doing."

J.D. (50th Birthday party)


"Your harp is lovely. It has been a wonderful evening."

M.W's anniversary


"I bet you didn't expect to do that for the evening, you entertained the children really well and everybody enjoyed themselves."

M.S. (Birthday / family celebration)


"Dear Kate,

I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful ceilidh you provided for our wedding. We absolutely loved it. The music was so tight, the calling was pitched perfectly to help all the beginners but without patronising the Scots. It made our wedding and I don't think we've ever giggled so much.

Thank you! "

K (Wedding Ceilidh)


"People kept coming into the bar and saying what fun it was and that it was such a good idea to have a Barn Dance for the wedding."

H.B. (Wedding)


"Just a quick note to say a huge thank you to you and the band for playing on Saturday evening.

The feedback we received on the night and since has been great. 

This has literally just come in from one of our guests: ‘The lady caller was brilliant and by far the best I have seen. Her band were brilliant and very enjoyable. If I knew that they were performing next year I would sign up again very quickly.'

Great feedback!"

KR, organiser of the Burns Night at The Pump Rooms in Bath


Contact us

We play for weddings, parties, fund raising, anniversaries and any other celebration you may entertain. We are based in Dorset near Bournemouth and cover most of the South Coast including Hampshire, Wiltshire, Devon, Somerset and further afield.

If you would like to hold a Ceilidh / Barn dance / Scottish Country Dance please contact Kate on 01202 914128, send us an email katecarpenter@hotmail.co.uk or fill out an enquiry form for price and availability.

We look forward to making your occasion go with a swing.

Kate, Jim, John & Ed.

Some useful links

Home - Top - Contact us - FAQs