Tag Archives: dancing

The Worlds

There are rules to this, if you can see past the wigs, jigs and high kicks…

The Worlds is the 44th Irish Dancing World Championships. Expect to see wigs, wigs, and more wigs, bling, diamantes, excessive make-up, various shades of orange, tap dancing on the streets, and inappropriate clothing i.e. half-dressed competitors in London’s Hilton Metropole. Big Fat Gypsy meets beauty pageant.

It’s a multi-million pound industry with the organisers, An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha, anticipating between 15,000-20,000 visiting the city over Easter 2014.

This is the first time London has played host to the Championships with hopes to build on the spirit of the Olympic legacy. Though, I’ve never seen an Olympian high jumper in big bloomers – now that would be a treat – this is the Olympics of the Irish dancing world.

But hey, Boris Johnson is excited, as the London Mayor described the event as a “vital boost to London’s economy”. The only connection I can see is that the Mayor himself likes a wig.

Wigs and Jigs
Wigs and Jigs

And it’s wigs galore, with more than 5,000 competitors with artificial ringlets in every shade; white blonde, dirty blonde, light brunette, black, and Irish coleens in red, looking like Maureen O’Hara in the Quiet Man. It’s tradition. Keeping with the tradition, when our ancestors danced at the crossroads with luscious locks and streaky tan?

Lost in the razzle dazzle, there is art to this; a mix of balletic and athletic dance, rhythm, lively music, poise, carriage and hard, hard work. To explain, you leap into the air with your arms rigid and stuck to your side like glue, that’s a banned substance I presume, see the rule book for clarity. Strength, co-ordination, twirling, jumping, stamping, hopping. It’s got it all.

It starts with hop two, three, four, five, six, seven, but before you know it, you’re slapping on the fake tan, the crown is buried into your head, more Kirby grips digging into your membrane, you’re high kicking, and dressed like a fairy.

If you think wigs are bad, I’m haunted by the sleepless nights before the evolution of dance, back to the days of the curlers. A very knowledgeable and practical friend of my mother’s used to joke that a wig would have sorted out all our woes. Little did she know, how wise her words were and what a phenomenon the wigs would become.

I’m often asked why? I don’t know. It saved time and hassle, but why? It’s tradition. Did my ancestors really do that? The answers I’ve been looking for are in the Rule Book of Irish Dance. Yes, there are rules and here are some of my favourites, paraphrased below…

4.4.3 Costumes must consist of full front, side and back sections. Cut away styles, without a full skirt backing, are not acceptable. I concur. No Strictly nonsense for my forefathers.

4.4.2 Necklines must be at collarbone level or above. No cleavage allowed; In the Name of the Father, sorry gran. It’s sad in this day and age that we’re having to write this one down.

4.4.4 In order to protect dancers from hazardous objects while competing, costumes may not be decorated with feathers; feathers, what’s next, diamantes will be struck off the list.

Nobody likes a showoff, I heartily agree.

4.4.8: Costumes for both boys and girls should not include representations such as globes, medals or any other symbol of an award having been achieved.
Note: no mention of Facebook then?

4.4.10 Appropriate underwear, covering the midriff, must be worn. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I should say, preserving our heritage.

Where tights are worn, they must be of a denier of not less than 70. M&S do a wonderful range and who wears less than 70 anyway? Shame on those that this has to be a rule.

If you are wearing a body suit, it should not show the contour of the body in detail. It’s Irish dancing, it’s not sexy cha, cha, cha folks. Velvet and lyrca are recommended, really? You have lost me here.

In the make up department, make-up including false lashes is not permitted for dancers, in either solo competitions or team competitions, up to and including Under 10 age group. Aged 11+, slap it on like our ancestors used to do.

Any competitor found using artificial carriage aids will be subject to disqualification, however medical prescription apparatus, proof of which may be required, will be exempt. Oh, whatever will they think of next? Competitors found to be altering their shoes or wearing them on the wrong feet will be treated in the same manner. Know your left and right.

It is also suggested for class costumes, which is a dress representing your dance school, that a lean towards a more traditional style of costume is recommended – not sure how this is really working out.

And to get back to my question, why the wigs? Nothing. I can’t find a rule. So, the Shirley Temple bouncing wigs look set to stay. It is after all the preservation and promotion of Irish Dance, and what says that better than the synthetic fibre of the wigs on show.


For more about the World Championships, check out The Telegraph article


SATC – Glasgow style

The Meat Market, the Shack or is it the Ramshack, this Farmyard lives up to its name. In hot pursuit of some dancing, my friends and I, hop, skip and jump a taxi, high on life.

On approach, I did wonder whether this establishment was the right destination for my friends and I. With the multiple police vans parked outside, I knew we were in safe hands.

Gone are the days of free passes, the bouncers we knew no longer work the doors and the PR girls are a clipboard away from the Boardroom.

Queuing isn’t beyond me, in fact this is an excellent vantage point to tell my tale.

The glaringly obvious point is the amount of flesh on display. I often wonder if this is to save hassle at the end of an evening.

Dimples and wrinkles are everywhere to see from the waist down. Streaks and paw prints on the backs of thighs and bottoms can be seen even in a winter’s night, some things don’t change.

And it’s not just the ladies bottoms that are being thrusted in my face. Some snake-hipped youngster mistook me for a pole or a trunk, gyrating his latest dance move on my leg before I shook him off like a dog.

Standing in the Circus, wearing one of those garments, known as a coat, complete with gloves and scarf, well it is December, heels at 5 inches, an LBD, pale skin, tired eyes, and belonging to the Sex in the City generation, I didn’t feel we were complementing our companions in the queue.

Sure enough, one look by the sparrow fart bouncer confirmed this. Each one of my companions, professionals in their own right, were dealt the blow, “Not tonight ladies!”

But I’ve come to do some uninterrupted dancing. When pressed on his decision, he insisted that one of us had had a little too much. Funny that, having arrived at this point, I’d had a little too much too.

Too much flesh, too much tan, too much makeup, I couldn’t agree more, they are too much.

But too much to drink, hardly. Too much or too much clothes?

Whilst law and order and quality control took over the door, the three stooges from Her Majesty’s Service watched idly on. The sparrowfart is judge and jury over fashion, age, too much and too little.

As I spend my life arguing about putting too much in one’s mouth, too much washing, too much to do, I was too tired to argue my way into this barnyard. Disappointed in the lack of dancing, the Sex and the City generation were sent on their way.

What would Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte or Carrie have done? Samantha would have done the doorman; Miranda, sued; Charlotte, cried; and Carrie would have told her story.



When Cinders went to the Ball

On the rare occasion when I don’t have two attachments clinging onto me, I found myself sipping Prosecco in one trendy hotspot.

Like an enthusiastic tourist, I’m taking in the sights. And there are some sights. Bottoms have made a reappearance this season, but it’s not to everyone’s taste.

I speak to anyone who talks back.

When I was footloose and fancy free, I wouldn’t have entertained chat; my place was on the dance floor. No longer a regular, I’ve become quite selective. Picking clubs and pubs is based on the ratio of chairs to persons. My heels are high and I’m used to my home comforts, you see I’m usually at home.

But I do love to dance. It gets me to the core. Thrashing about on the dance floor, moving every pound of me, that’s where I want to be. I have a somewhat violent reaction to music and I don’t care whose way I’m in. I am dancing. I do need to pace myself in between numbers though.

Resting results in random chat with lots of, randoms. Seated or leaning, you are a target.

And as I said, I’d talk to anyone. But there are some people you just shouldn’t talk to, but I can’t seem to avoid them. Walk away from boring, egocentric nut jobs, any excuse will do, but I keep talking or worse, listening.

At least if you’re the one speaking then you’re in control. Listening is overrated, you’re not in control and you’re willing the person to stop.

Berating myself, I tell myself to LISTEN!!!! I’m drifting off again. Shit I missed it, and now, I’m never going to nod, laugh and grunt at the right bits.

I’m headed to the bar. I hate this bit, I’m completely out of my comfort zone.

I don’t have a problem pushing past people to get to the dance floor, but squeezing past sweaty armpits to line up for a drink is disturbing.

I’m probably not supposed to say this out loud, but it’s at this point your senses are acutely aware of the impact of the Smoking Ban. The place stinks with no smoke screen to hide behind.

And I start to think of home.

I don’t queue for drinks. He does. I miss him right now. I’m the essence of modernity but not when it comes to queuing. I would be lying if I said I miss him when I’m out. He’s a terrible dancer. His moves are the same as a daddy longlegs; gangly and cumbersome. I dance, he gets the drinks. I talk, he listens. He talks, I never listen.

After what felt like an eternity waiting to be served, our bottle of Prosecco arrives. Nestling in its shiny bucket, my friend and I sip the bubbles. Life is good.

Glancing over my shoulder to my disgust, we were rudely interrupted by what looked liked a member of a boyband. His grumpy little hands clasped tightly round the neck, caught redhanded having a swally. Rude. I was even hurt. Not just because he was a young pint-sized little sparrow-fart, but because he had a complete disregard for this momentous occasion. Too chat without interruption, to toilet without company, to bore the pants of people telling tales about my foxes. Interruptions, even to my thoughts, are constant and this arrogant teenybopper was another interruption.

I treated him like I would my three year old. “Say you’re sorry!”
“No, say it like you mean it!”
The runt of the litter offered a reluctant apology, as I scowled at him.

His over eager friends were quick to come to the rescue, offering their most sincere apologies.

It’s been a while since I’ve been chatted up, and I don’t think I’m being arrogant by saying, I was being properly chatted up here. But before the hunters sought out their prey, tales of my cubs had them dropping like flies. I should add my beautiful friend was receiving enough attention, but that’s her story. I don’t tell tales.
One by one they dropped away? People just don’t want to talk. Was it something I said? Come back, I’ve not told you the funny bit yet!

Disappointed, I hadn’t even had the chance to make up one of my tales? I love a story and the romance of a new audience. Ever since I was underage, I’d make up names and extra Curriculum activities, part of the clubbing experience ritual. It was now a pubbing experience because Cinders here likes to check out early before the natives arise.

Next up, a guy donning what looked like a customised jacket. It may have been designer, but it was horrific. A songwriter. Really? Liar. This guy liked fiction just as much as me.

“I like writing too, I said.” But first tell me about the lapels on your jacket. No man should sparkle more than a woman? Did your mammy sew them on for you? I was on fire. I had to get this guy away, I hate, hate, hate, bling on a man. I’m all for inequality when it comes to pink, sparkles and diamonds. Diamonds are a girl’s best, not a boy’s and certainly not a man’s. Matching diamond rings, I squirm at the thought. Does no one have respect for tradition? My big fat gypsy boy was sent on his way to think again. But not before I asked him about his songwriting, the liar. My humour was lost on him as he turned on me to suggest a few style pointers of his own. I don’t think my kind was his type.

Another dance with my faithful friend and we’re hitting it hard on the dance floor. Ignorant to anyone in our radius, she and I are a dynamic duo.

I’m a woman’s woman, I like to think. So I’m now talking with what I think is my own kind.
“But I totally thought you were my age!” she said.
“I am. The last time I was here I was twenty four.” I hollered, above the exceptionally loud music. They’ve definitely turned the volume up, its not what it used to be.
“You totally look my age,” she echoed.
“Sorry, what did you say?”
“My age, you look my age,” she repeated.
“That’s because I am. There’s really not that big a difference between us.” I bellowed. Could someone turn the music down just a tad, I can hardly hear myself think.
“And you’ve got kids too.”
”Two.” I said, gloating.
Miraculous that. I was starting to think that there was something special about me. When I was six you were in nappies, you’re just a few laps behind me, I thought.

And then, I may as well have swapped my six inch heels for a knitted cardigan with the words:
“At your age, I was married with one on the way.” Horror crossed her face. Well, someone had to burst her bubble.
Age comes to us all, but I suppose that’s something that comes with age….