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The DOs & DON’Ts Of Being Friends With Irish Dancers

Nina is an adult Irish dancer based in Belgrade, Serbia. For more, connect with her on twitter @GingerLujka.

You’ve got a friend who’s an Irish dancer and you sometimes really don’t know how to act around them. Even though you fully support them and think they are awesome (I mean, they are Irish dancers, how could they not be awesome!) somehow you always say the wrong thing and no matter how much you try you just can’t seem to master the lingo… We are here to help you!

Here are 5 things you might think twice before saying in front of your friend who is also an Irish dancer:

No disrespect to great people involved with the show – but, no, I do not Riverdance. I’m nowhere as good or skillful enough to be in the show. Do you ask an actor if he or she Sheakspeares? Of course you don’t. We do Irish dance. And there are dancers involved with the show called Riverdance. Glad we cleared that up.

Some of our dances are performed in heavy or jig shoes, which are different to what people usually think of when you say step/tap shoes. It’s not Gene Kelly “Dancing in the Rain” type of dance, in fact, it bares very few resemblances to it. Also, a great part of what we do consists of ballet-like soft shoe dances. So no, not step dancing either.

This one is not so bad, actually. Most people don’t shy away from showing their talent, but there are those who don’t really feel comfortable dancing outside the studio or off the stage, especially younger dancers. It’s wise not to push them just for the sake of your own entertainment. Most of the adult dancers I know wouldn’t mind, but teenagers might not be that eager to be unexpectedly made center of attention and forced to dance.

Because I don’t want to. Dancing makes me happy. It might sound strange to some people, but dancers actually enjoy spending their time at the studio, practicing their steps. Especially during the competition season. If you want to have some quality time with your friend who happens to be an Irish dancer, instead of expecting them to put your friendship in front of the dance, try being supportive and schedule your hangouts so that they don’t coincide with your friend’s dance classes. Or competitions. Or performances.

Don’t judge your Irish dancer friend’s style on their choice of dance costumes. Even if they usually wear only one colour (black, most probably) you will most likely see them wearing something pink and neon orange with lots of rhinestones and glitter on it on the stage. This may be less if your friend happens to be a boy, but nevertheless be ready for surprises. There’s no such thing as too much glitter.


Of course, there are some things that would really make your friend who is an Irish dancer happy, and I strongly encourage you to try these out. So let’s get to the DOs!


DO … 

1. Buy them bobby-pins. Lots of them. They’ll love you forever.
2. Offer free foot massages, or have someone give it to your Irish dancing friend. Nothing says I love you like showing concern for your dancer’s feet, because they work the hardest.
3. Ask if you could watch “Jig” with them and try not to look terrified by what you see.
4. Show compassion for their misery when their favorite dancer retires.
5. If you can’t beat them, join them. Irish dancers love sharing their passion with everyone, so why don’t you give it a try? Ask your friend if the school he or she goes to has a beginner’s class and get ready to rock some poodle socks!
Photo credit: Images is courtesy of and belongs to author.

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