How many competitions do you know of that require each participant to have a wig, costume, 2 different pairs of shoes, and a face full of makeup? Oh, and each has to have talent as well, which is honed with hours of practice. Irish step dancing is competitive in multiple ways. Forget everyday fashion trends, these girls have makeup fads and costume designs to follow – during the time when they’re not in the studio.
Having been an Irish dancer since age 5, I have become an expert on how to prepare for a competition. My friends who know little about it are baffled when I tell them what, exactly, is involved in the preparation process. I think you, as readers of the fabulous Lovelyish site, would appreciate the extreme nature of the fashion and beauty trends involved in Irish dance competitions. Scroll down to learn more about the crazy world of Irish dance! Think Riverdance meets Toddlers and Tiaras.
A trendy Irish dancer will have:
1. A Wig: The majority of competitive Irish dancers wear a wig similar to this one. These wigs are not designed to look like smooth, silky pieces of hair, but more like an explosion of curls. Each feels as if it weighs about ten pounds, and is held in place with an entire pack of bobby pins. The higher you jump, the more the curls bounce! I believe this wig is exclusively used for Irish dancers; I have yet to see one anywhere else.
2. Makeup: Personally, I always had a blast applying makeup while I was getting ready to compete. When it comes to stage makeup, you never hear anyone say “less is more.” No matter how many sparkles I put on my eyelids, it was never out of control. Mascara was layered, and eye shadow (matching the dress, obviously) was slathered on. As much fun as dance makeup was, I had to re-learn my cosmetics skills when I eventually wanted to wear eye shadow for regular, everyday use.
3. A solo costume: These are not just dance costumes, they are works of art. Each competitive solo dancer has a unique costume. Despite their many differences, each is heavy, expensive, and attention-grabbing. Bright colors, intricate patterns, and rhinestones adorn each individual’s dress. As pretty as each costume is, each will go out of style given Irish dance’s ever-changing trends.
4. Tan Legs: This is one Irish dance trend that never made much sense to me. As I started dancing at higher levels, it became popular for girls to rub self-tanner on their legs prior to a competition. This is despite the fact that the Irish are some of the most pale people on the planet. My best guess is that the color provided a good contrast to the white poodle socks onstage. However, I did get some weird looks on the days after competitions when I showed up at my Catholic school, in my uniform, with unusually tan legs.
5. Sock Glue: Because who, after weeks of practice, wants her socks falling down mid-jig? Nobody.
6. Shoe Buckles: What I like to call “hardshoe bling,” these are just the finishing touches to a competitive dancer’s attention-grabbing outfit. What better way to draw attention to well-rehearsed dance moves than attaching sparkles to your shoes?
Have any of you Lovelies competed in Irish dance, or know someone who has? What do you think of these crazy dance trends?