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The Irish Dance Style Surprise Party

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Photo credit: member Ann

We’ve been looking in to the different types of occasions Irish dancing took place in Ireland during the second half of the 20th century.  As you do, right? Believe us when we say (er, type) that there were plenty of circumstances for a bit of dancing.  Here’s one of our favourites: the surprise party.

The kind of surprise party we’re going to tell you about here took place in Cavan.  (We’re not quite sure if this type of party took place anywhere outside of that county.) This is how it would work: A group of friends would get together and decide to have a dance party.  They would agree on the details of the party – location, date, time, etc. – and then spread the word. How is this a surprise party, you ask?  You see, the people of the house, we’re talking about the place where the party was to be held, weren’t told the party was going to be at their place.  Surprise!  This was great fun for all unless maybe it was your house hosting.  We guess, however, that this was a good incentive for everyone to always keep their home clean and ready for a party.

Here are a few more details: Because the party was a surprise, the organizers would hand out slips of paper to the those invited to let them know what they should bring – how stealthy.  Since the cost of food and drink ran high during this time, sometimes the party goers would pool together money in order to get some porter – but that was a real treat.

All in all, we think is pretty funny and a great idea.  Who is going to try it?


Reference: Brennan, Helen. The Story of Irish Dance. Lanham, Maryland: Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1999.

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