The word 'folk' derives from a Germanic noun meaning 'army' or 'host of warriors'. This sounds rather far removed from the idyllic image of country bumpkins the word instils today. In reality, neither translation is completely accurate. The word 'folk' really just means a group or crowd of people. Terms like folklore, folk music, and folk dance, therefore refer to stories, songs, and dances that have been formed by a community of people and passed down through the generations.
One of the great things about folk dance is just how inclusive it is. With ballroom and Latin, a dance is usually between two people - a man and a woman to be precise - and often has a romantic element to it. Folk dance, however, is shared by the masses. Everyone dances with each other at the same time, no matter what your age or gender. There is also less emphasis on technique, so people can just have fun without the pressure of having to get all the steps right.
One of the most notable type of folk dance is the barn dance, which was particularly popular in Ireland up until the 1950s. Barn dances come in many different forms, including ceilidh, square dancing, contra dancing, line dancing, and more. One particularly unique feature of a barn dance is that it has a 'caller', who gives out instructions about the next move. This is handy for people who have trouble remembering steps. It's the equivalent of an actor having a prompter off stage to remind them of their lines.
If you fancy having a go, take your little army of warriors to Cecil Sharp House on the 12th January, for a Family Barn Dance. Between 3pm-5pm enjoy dancing with your kids, partner, folks, and friends. Tickets are £6 for adults, £4 for children, and free for under twos. It is recommended that there is one adult per four children, and that children under five are partnered by an adult.