Truths of Being an Irish Dancer

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Even after my time as an Irish Dancer have expired, I still look forward to this day. I consider myself an Irish Dancer at heart and will forevermore look forward to St. Paddy’s not because of the alcohol, but because my instructor’s pure joy about the day rubbed off on me. Below are 7 truths that immediately popped into my mind about being an Irish Dancer. 

  1. Not everyone is Irish! People always gave me weird looks when I told them I was an Irish Dancer. They were confused because I didn’t fit the stereotype. My creamy brown skin and dark hair don’t exactly match the complexion of a freckled girl with red hair. This is how Irish Dance actually is! People from all around the world participate, meaning there’s a vast diversity among the dancers. 
  2. There are more dances than jigs. Something that always annoyed me is when people watched me dance and freak out about how awesome the jig I did was. No, I just did a reel. Jigs are usually airy and upbeat while reels are more soul-rooted. Also not a jig: kicking feet around rapidly without rhyme or reason. 
  3. Times get more and more stressful before the feis. The feis, or an Irish Dance competition, is incredibly fun, but more stressful than it will ever be fun. Dancers are in it to win it, and practice for hours on end. The practices usually cause quarrels with the instructor; and if you’re anything like me, they won’t matter because you’ll forget each new dance you learned. 
  4. Having naturally curly hair is awesome. One thing I didn’t have to stress about when competing was my hair. I have naturally curly and springy hair. This is really great because the girls I competed against spent big bucks on wiglets with spiral curls to try to get some bounce action. I was able to focus my attention on more important things, like learning the steps to the dance.
  5. You cherish your ghillies. Even after my life strayed away from Irish Dance, I couldn’t get myself to leave my ghillies. They were my rite-of-passage. I had to earn them, making the lacy black shoes mean even more to me. To this day, the pretty old things reside in my closet, and they aren’t leaving anytime soon.
  6. You say “jump 2,3,4,5,6,7” in your sleep. Irish Dancers must count in order to get their fast steps just in the right place. Instead of counting by 8s, we have our own original code. This code is probably much more complex than computer coding, and for this reason, we were all edged in slowly. One of the first steps we learned were 7s, which are like ballerina steps but not. After awhile, it sticks in your brain and NEVER goes away.
  7. Your legs look killer in heels. I spent most of my week on my toes like a Barbie. I also had Barbie’s sexy calves. This was a plus for all the hard work I put it. The dance is very difficult to do because form and balance have to be maintained, or it’s a face plant. It was all worth it, because I had nice legs.



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