Sometimes I find myself saying really perfectly normal things that my friends outside of dance might find a little weird. So I have compiled a list of these things Irish dancers know to be true and decided to make a post out of it. I’m going to assume this is going to be a part one. I am sure I will think of so many more once I post this.
#1: Sock glue
If you are familiar with Irish dance you might be aware that we put glue on our legs to hold our socks up. However if you are on the outside of the Irish dance community you might give us a bit a of weird look if we bring up sock glue with no context. Sock glue is sticky and it smells awful, but it gets the job done when you don’t want your socks rolling down.
#2: Weird Looks and Questions
Obviously if you walk into a public place with a face full of make up, curly hair, and a tiara, people are definitely going to stare at you and probably ask some weird questions. My personal favorites are “Is that your real hair?” and “Are you in a beauty Pageant?” The answer to both of those questions is no. Although my hair is naturally curly, I do still have to wear a wig. However, it would take a ridiculous amount of time for me to do my hair like an Irish dance wig. I have nothing against people who participate in pageants, I’m just not one of them. Although I do appreciate when people actually ask me questions instead of just stare at me.
#3: Dancing with your fingers/hands
A lot of the time I will start to daze off into space and most of the time during this you will find me “tapping” my fingers on my leg, a desk, or whatever surface is available to me. I’ll usually be whispering under my breath as well. A lot of the time when I do this people will look at me and ask what I’m doing. Don’t worry there’s nothing wrong, I’m just going over my dance steps.
#4: Explaining steps in a series of sounds
I would like to thank one of my dance friends for suggesting this one. A lot of the time when we are going over and helping one another with steps we tend to use a weird series of sounds while doing it. This might be how a conversation goes.
“Hey, can you help me with this step?”
“Sure. So it goes da da da da dun da dun”
Yet we usually know what the other is going on about.
#5: 3-Hands are the death dance
Okay, so maybe this might not be for every Irish dancer, but I know in my class, most of us despise 3-hands. It’s a constant set of 123s and jig steps. Believe it or not, that takes a lot out of a person. Especially if you have problems with your limbs aching, this dance is dreadful. I don’t think I know any girls that absolutely love this dance. Don’t get me wrong, it is not an awful dance, it’s just long and tiring.
#6: Solo dress trends
Trends in solo dresses are a big thing. Each year there is something new. For example the big ones that I have noticed this year are criss-cross design on the arms and bodice and embroidery designed to look like leaves and flowers. You want to have that one thing that stands out, but sometimes you do and other people want to and so on and so forth. With my current dress and the dress that is currently being made I have tried to stay away from the solo dress trends as much as possible.
#7: Tape and sharpies
If you are an Irish dancer you know exactly what this means.
Duct, electrical, and Gaffer tape are all used on the bottom of our hard shoes so we do not slip and fall on stage. Yet sometimes it doesn’t work. When you reach a higher level dancers will wrap white tape around the tops of their shoes for competition. I think it’s to make their feet look more turned out, but I’m not sure, I haven’t reached the point where I have needed to do this yet.
Don’t have shoe polish? Not a problem! Just fill in your shoes with a black sharpie to get the job done. You might think I’m joking, but I’m not. Before Oireachtas I colored the tips and heels of my hard shoes to make them look blacker than they actually were.
#8: Obsessions with Jig
Okay, so this might not be all dancers, but I am obsessed with the movie Jig. Jig is an Irish dance documentary that follows dancers from different regions and different ages to the world championships. I watch this movie when I need motivation for dance. Sometimes I’ll watch it before competitions for the same reason. I really love this movie
#9: Having to clarify the directions of your steps
During competition dancers will try to avoid collisions at all costs. So before hand you try to figure out who you’ll be dancing with and you explain to each other how you will be moving on the stage. You explain which way you start and how you’ll move across the stage throughout the dance. This can actually be quite a problem if you don’t discuss this before hand. Running into another dancer on the stage is not fun.
Last, but certainly not least is counting. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it hard to count past eight sometimes. Occasionally I will find myself counting in incriminates of eight and then realize it half way through and have to start over. Another thing is, instead of saying “ready, set, go” I will usually say “and 5, 6, 7, 8” or “1, 2, ready go.” In my mind it’s normal, in other people’s, maybe not so much.
This is my list for now. I definitely see more posts like this in the future.