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8 Things Irish Dancers Can’t Live Without

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Cara Sutherland is an Open Champion dancer from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. She is currently studying Exercise Science and is involved with the Performing Arts at John Carroll University.

This is a very busy time of year for Irish dancers between school recitals, festivals, feiseanna, and shows. A lot of work goes into our performances, but there’s also quite a bit of gear required too! The best way to be prepared for any tiny mishap is to bring EXTRA EVERYTHING, but I’ve narrowed this list down to the essentials. Besides shoes and a costume, here are eight other things that Irish dancers cannot survive without!


Besides the incredibly important and obvious uses—to keep hair poufs upright or holding down flyaways—hairspray can be helpful in other ways. Spray a little on your shoes after polishing them to keep the shine lasting longer, or a light amount on your competitor card to keep it stiff. We all know the clear nail polish trick for stopping runs in tights, but hairspray works too! In fact, spraying tights before dancing can prevent them from tearing in the first place.


Dancers cannot live without plenty of hairpins and safety pins! I’ve probably used thousands of bobby pins in my dance career (and have no idea where they’ve all gone), but dancers should always have lots of spare hairpins to keep wigs on. Having safety pins handy can provide the quick fix necessary when you do not have time to sew a ripped seam or detached button.


A small pair of scissors can be surprisingly useful! Besides cutting tape, scissors are necessary to have around in case your wig needs a little trim or threads from your costume are coming loose.


The concept of gluing your socks to your shins seems absolutely outrageous—unless you’re an Irish dancer. It’s an important element to keep your look clean, and a rolling sock can distract from your dancing. Sock glue is a great body adhesive for other parts of a costume you’d like to keep in place.


Wet wipes are perfect for fixing smudged makeup and any other quick cleanups when time is limited and a sink may not be nearby.


Irish dancers need all kinds of tape! Lots of dancers wear duct tape on their hardshoes for slippery stages, black electrical tape to keep their shoes on tightly, and white electrical tape for embellishment. Of course, we also need endless rolls of medical or athletic tape for blisters and other injuries.


There are countless colors, shapes, and sizes of crystals on the costumes to ensure that Irish dancers sparkle on stage. It doesn’t hurt to have extra crystals and some E6000 superglue to reapply any gems that may fall off our bedazzled dresses, crowns, buckles, socks, or even shoes.

8. ICE

Ice is the best treatment for sore feet! Keep your feet on ice for twenty minutes to reduce swelling, or help you cool down after a performance. You can store an ice pack next to your water bottle and you’ve got a refreshing drink too!

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