Tag Archives: London

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.

Crossroads_1
Toes

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

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My Fashion Week

London Fashion Week In a sea of black, black being the colour of fashion and designers, we all sort of look the same. Well, not exactly the same. My daughter’s looking mighty fine, but we’ll come to her a little later.  The waiters, the bloggers, the designers, the inbetweeners are head-to-toe in black; it’s sublime.

We’re talking 2014’s Spring/Summer, as the rain bounces off the floor, and in my mind Christmas is a dirty word, but in the language of fashion we’re defying all boundaries and bypassing seasons. As a heads up, it’s going to be bright and bold or is it pastel? Colours, textures, fabrics, cloth, silks, and everything in between next season. It’s Spring, it’s fresh, it’s clean lines and very, very, very exciting.

Excited, I type away, standing upright. It’s a party and I am tweeting furiously, capturing the moment, looking up only to snap and stalk here and there. I am your worst dinner guest, rude, consumed and working on the fine art of balancing an iPhone, a spare iPhone, because for the love of God, if one goes dead, I’m dead, and the iPad. I’m doing exactly what I berate my children for. Like a wasp, I’m also poking it randomly in people’s faces; the silent assassin. People do look at you though, this is true. A quick once over to see if you merit importance and are you worthy of conversation? Who the hell are you? Ahh, the hired help?

Height and stature are problematic as I perched on my tippy-toes looking up at the beautiful. My Taggart voice, ‘there’s been a murder”, assists, when told to move. Engaging in brief conversation, why bother? When the model pauses to say I could be her mother, but I’m not laughing. LFW, more accurately WTF.  The fashion industry is tough. And what’s worse, is that I will be seeing my beloved child on the back of buses, billboards, shops, magazines, need I go on. I am a mother of two, not twenty-two, hence I swiftly left London Fashion Week (LFW) as one of fashion’s cast-offs.

Felicity Fox

Click below to buy this season’s multi-coloured, striped, patterned and sequined pieces, all the designers are wearing it; honest.

London Fashion Week
London Fashion Week

Game, set and match

The camera spans the crowd; white, rich, middle class. There may be a few exceptions, but on the whole, it’s an elite crowd. Dressed in glistening whites, the Home Counties look is on. Celebrities, Royalty, straw hats and strawberries and the grunting of two men as the ball pings back and forth. It’s Wimbledon.

fur coat, nae knickers
all fur coat and nae knickers

The crowd, like the spectators in a gladiators’ arena, are jeering like only debaters know how. The athletes are prime thoroughbreds as they battle it out on Centre Court. Sport breaks all divides and barriers they say, but not ticket prices. With tickets reaching prices of up to £13,600, it’s for the few, not the many.

The men are sporting beige, baby blue, brown belts and tan shoes, the look of the south of France. It’s the look of money. The women are wearing blow drys, the look of hired help. It’s sunglasses and umbrellas, pout trouts and highlights. It’s a riveting spectacle. Sport is a force for good and what better way to celebrate this than to bow and to curtsy and to keep the privileged in their seats.

Wimbledon_3

Olympics 2012 by Felicity Fox

Brothers
Felicity Fox

It’s the 8:40 Glasgow to London Virgin Express and we’re set. DVD, iPad, iPhone and a spare packed in my rucksack, actually not my rucksack, a piece acquired along with the children. Armed with every E numbers, carb and gobstoppers, everything that a parenting book won’t tell you but I’ve been here before.

Quick picture for Facebook, show the world our adventurous side and a warning to Coach D that we’re on board. I’m quick to advise the man opposite that he may wish to upgrade. Undeterred, he assures me it’s fine. He’s equipped with today’s papers from the Guardian to Private Eye, no doubt looking forward to immersing himself in some current affairs.

My current affairs are sitting pretty in seats 23 and 24, and the two blades between my shoulders are beginning to tense up. I haven’t started stripping the layers off as yet. The train’s not even departed and they’re prowling in the plastic bags for their first course.

They’re content and for now, contained. They don’t know about the on board lavatory which will soon become the highlight and my vantage point for the four and a half hour trip.

The DVDs buy me an hour or so, as does the masses of food I’m getting them to consume by 10 am.

The youngest one is the first to ask: “I need a pee?” Followed by his brother. The 2ft by 2ft cell is a hit. In the space of an hour we pushed past every commuter, knocking a few suits on the way, while visiting the facilities at least three times back and forth. The fourth visit was a bit of an emergency as I raced into First Class full steam ahead – you see, those ones are manned.

Never talk to strangers doesn’t seem to resonate with my boys. Before I know it, they are singing songs from the Alamo, I’m going to kill their papa for that one, and they’re offering Haribos to strangers, whilst declaring they’re off to kill the baddies in London with their guns.

I’ve a glackit smile plastered across my face and a few hours on the clock till bedtime. I’m given encouragement by onlookers who warn me of the pearls of the Tube. I’m quite capable, honestly, as I scrape my three-year old off the floor. “I want a gun?” That’s nice, not so loud. But “you said there would be gun shops in London!”

“Yes, yes, I”ll get you a special toy when we get off the train.”

“I want a gun!”

“Yes, darling.”

Next stop, The Tube. Before I know it, I’m marching the bedraggled children down the escalators and barking at them to hold my hand. It’s every man for themselves, survival of the fittest, Darwin style. Gone are my manners, we’re in London, they don’t do queuing or etiquette underground. And we don’t want to look like the hillbillies from the country, my backpack is bad enough and showing us up as it is.

We make it. We’re on the right line and we’ve pushed past arrogance and we’re perched on a seat supported by my tonne of technology. Weary legged, my three year old thinks I need to redress the balance at the front and looks at me to carry him. He’s tired. I’m frigging exhausted and it’s 1pm. The final leg of the journey is within grasps, and like any athlete I’m psyching myself up for the penultimate challenge. The Olympics are coming and I’m here. The train arrives at London Bridge and we’re on it. Just five stops and a short 15min walk to the house and I’ve made it. The natives are getting restless and their enthusiasm for the adventure has long evaporated. I’m leading this team, breaking barriers and PBs. I really don’t get the recognition I deserve. They’ve stopped. It’s catastrophe. It’s the last lap and they’ve decamped on the pavement. They are refusing to move. I really don’t need this. I can’t have carriers in my team. I’m a winner. I’m in the Olympics.

No, I’m delirious?

Felicity Fox