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11th Jan 2017

12 Things you’ll only be able to relate to if you did Irish dancing as a child

Amanda Cassidy

My childhood was a haze of Elnett and slip jigs. 

I hornpiped away my evenings and instead of drinking in fields like any respectable teenager, I binged on red lemonade and anticipation at the weekend Feis in Mullingar.

That was the life of a competitive Irish dancer in the 80’s and 90’s.

No Irish dancing career would be complete without a pushy ‘Mam Rince’ who could set a head full of rollers in under five minutes while lacing pommes.

Her eventual payoff and every Mam Rince’s crowning moment were those 60 seconds of me doing the reel on the Late Late Toy Show #IrishMamGoals

So, what I want to know is: if you are good at something before it was cool, is that not even cooler?

Here’s when you know you were raised on treble reels and hairspray:

1. You sometimes wore poodle socks to school. If you need to ask what poodle socks are perhaps you shouldn’t read on.

2. At every family get-together, you would be dragged up to exuberant cries of ‘show us a jig’. So you would do the hornpipe. Fools never knew.

3. Eventually, using your arms to dance was a revelation.

4. You spent every St Patricks day in a pub since you were basically born except for the year you danced in the actual parade and your mam cried with happiness. Good times.

5. Céili’s were your first taste of dating – the old-fashioned Tinder of our time and swiping was never permitted during the Siege of Ennis at the Hall – a place more sacred than mass. Well, almost.

6. PE classes at school consisted of The Waltz of Limerick in your plimsolls as you tried to avoid the girls with warts.

7. The Three Sea Captains were not three actual sea captains.

8. You were wearing capes long before anyone else thought they were fashionable.

9. You could only count as far as 8 on a loop and then shout HOP!

10. You always had one gammy arm that wouldn’t stay straight (you convince yourself that this is why you didn’t make it into the Riverdance cast)

11. Your non-dancing friends were always asking you to demonstrate your ‘chops’ or ‘clicks’.

12. Time moved at a slower pace back then  – like when you were waiting for recalls or for your costume fitting.

My Irish dancing days were before the wigs and the fake tan and the beauty pageant-esque glitter costumes that we see now.

I spent my childhood banging away in my hard shoes and trying to avoid doing Riverdance at every freaking school talent show in spite of my Dance Mom.

But I did love it.

And I still hate when people impersonate Irish dancing in movies or on TV – but that’s mostly because their feet are turned in.