I saw Lord of the Dance live when I was seven. I can still remember how far I was from the stage; up on a balcony, able to see everything! A whole line of women, dressed all in black, Irish danced across a dark floor. In an instant, a shirtless Michael Flatley appeared at the front, standing out like a beacon and leading the dance with what seemed to be the fastest feet in the world. The sound of all their shoes hitting the floor in unison with the music brought the concert hall to life.
The next time I saw Irish dancing was six months later at a Céilí in Cincinnati, Ohio, put on by the McGing School of Irish Dancing. A friend of mine, with an incredibly Irish name and red hair, was one of the Irish dancers in this school. When the older, more experienced dancers stepped out on the floor to perform, I was sitting next to my friend along the edge of the stage. We could feel the vibrations moving as the dancers’ feet struck the floor with each note.
A week later, I was enrolled in Irish dancing classes.
For the following six years, I performed in that Céilí, St. Paddy’s day parades, Feisanna, Celtic Festivals and even weddings.
Today, I only Irish dance on the rarest of occasions, usually with the aid of liquid courage and a good tune. However, I do dance… a lot.
Thanks to the changing beats of Irish music, I learned to truly feel a beat and how to MOVE to a beat; so no matter the style of music, I can groove.
I may not be the best Irish dancer, scratch that, I’m definitely not the best Irish dancer; however, I use the gift of rhythm, bestowed upon my by the Irish dancing spirits, to add Irish twang to each dance I do. It’s like a raggedy Irish dance.
Anywhere a tune is playing, I need to move, even if only a wee bit. It’s almost like I signed my soul away to the devil.
Sound vibrations start in my feet and hands, working their way up my legs and arms. Once my shoulders begin to move and my legs pick up, the beat simply takes over.
If I had known about this dancing super power back in the day, I may have actually practiced more often! Instead, I was one of a handful of male dancers among a sea of girls. This didn’t bother me in the slightest; I actually quite enjoyed it, until others started calling Irish dancing girly.
My teen masculinity took a hit, and Irish dancing took a pause in my life; but all roads lead to good things for me, because of my Irish-ness, of course!
Now, I’m incredibly proud of my limited Irish dancing know-how and I bet those guys who called it girly way back when don’t even know how to dance… so HA!
If you’re ever in the mood to learn something phenomenal, find your nearest Irish dancing school and get to steppin!