Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Feis (fesh): An Irish dance competition

This might be somewhat of a sporadic post…sorry in advance; I’m still tired and recuperating.

An Irish dance solo dress. But not MY dress.
But I am in love with it. It's a 2010 creation by
Allison Thrasher and I saw it at the feis.
As some of you may know, I had my first feis (Irish dance competition) lat weekend in a looooooong time. I’m talking upwards of 12 years, people.

I’m an extremely competitive person; I like to push myself and know that I’m better than other people at certain things. Irish dancing is one of them. So, when the opportunity came up for me to find out, I pounced on it. And so did my good friend, and fellow dancing buddy.

Now, she is just as competitive as I am, so this feis was a good thing. The only problem: We’re both in the same level and the same age category and in the same dances. Which meant that we would be competing against each other in every dance. Which meant, that no matter how many other people we were competing against, one of us would win and the other would lose.  So, we sat down and had the “talk”. No matter the results, we would still be friends and not be mad at whoever the “winner” turned out to be.  

Hubby’s main concern when I told him this predicament: “You two had better not get mad at each other, they’re our camping buddies.”

*insert eye roll here*

Our trip started out with an adventure, almost missing our flight because security was busier at 5:45 a.m. than it should’ve been. We touched down at PDX bright and early, caught the shuttle and puttered our way to the Hilton on 6th.

Soft shoes, or ghillies, are worn to dance ceili dances,
reels, light jigs, slip jigs, and single jigs.
We grabbed our suitcases, rolled into the hotel and up to the front desk and gave our names for check in. tappity-tap-tap-tap went the keyboard before the gentleman looked up at us. “I’m not showing you in our system at all.”

Annnnnnd cue heart attack.

We told him we got our confirmation email. Then he gave a knowing nod. “For the Hilton in Portland or the Hilton in Vancover?”

“Uh….the Hilton on 6th?” I said.

“There are two Hilton’s on 6th. Portland, here, and then the one across the river.”

Oh, well, that explains everything. Guess we should’ve known to specify WHICH Hilton on 6th street. After all, they are a whole FIFTEEN minutes away from each other.

So, we hailed a cab and headed across the river to the right Hilton. I’ve never been so happy to see fake tans, hair, and make up as I was when I walked through that revolving door. “Welcome Irish dancers!” proclaimed a sign by the front desk.

We had some amazing breakfast at the café there. It cost me $20 bucks for a small skillet breakfast, and  I could only eat half of it because I was so stinking nervous. After that, it was off to the ballrooms to watch the competitions and get a feel for how things were going to go. It was intimidating to see all the dancers pounding their hearts out on those plywood stages. They were all such amazing dancers. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I wasn’t competing against them. We spent a good three or so hours taking that all in, before going to the gym and working off some of my nerves. Practiced a bit. Then went and watched some more.

A sports bar was recommended to us for dinner, where we were told their truffle fries were amazing. And amazing they were! Holy crap, I want to go back to Vancouver just for those fries.

So we got back from dinner, practiced on the stages so we could get a feel for the floor, the space, and actually being up on there. And I have to say,
These are some typical wigs worn by most competition
dancers (but not all Irish dancers). They also have side
ponytails and buns. Long and short. 

I. kicked. Ass.

It’s true. I nailed everything. I was confident. I was precise. I was doing good. And that’s what I needed. I knew that I would be fine the next day and that if I failed, it was only because I got in my own way.

So, the next morning, I got all ready. Yes, the wig, the makeup, the outfit, the whole nine, (And I love it, btw), and went out onto the dance floor.

Our first competition was at 1:15, a two hand. We schooled it.

Then there was about a 3 hour break before the rest of our dances which were back-to-back. The feis was running about an hour behind because of unexpected dancers signing up.

Reel? Aced it.

Light Jig? First.

Slip Jig? In the bag.

Single Jig? Boo-ya! Gold medal.

Trophy Reel? Yup, I got the trophy.

Trebble Jig? Second.

Hornpipe? Tied for second.

Trophy Trebble Reel? 4th. :(

Traditional Set Dance? Call me Michael Phelps.

These are hard shoes, or jig shoes, and are worn dance
treble reels, treble jigs, hornpipes, and traditional set dances,
as well as misc. choreographed dances. 
So, as you can see from the pattern, soft shoe dances are my forte. I rock at those. Hard shoe, I’m a little weaker in. Over all, it was a good feis.

Until we looked at a clock and realized we were going to miss our flight if we didn’t get out of here. So we begged and pleaded to get our trophies early, won, and then skedaddled to the airport.

Where my friend’s carryon got held up by the TSA. I’m not even kidding, this is how it went down:

Conveyor belt stops. TSA agent looks at screen with a frown.

Me: I bet that’s your bag holding it up.

Friend: No way.

TSA guy waves over another agent who looks at the screen, scratches his chin and waves over another guy.

TSA: What’s in your bag?

Friend: Clothes, shoes, trophies.

TSA: Hmmm….well, it doesn’t look good. It looks suspicious.

(At this point, our plane is scheduled to take off in about 20 minutes, and there are approximately six TSA agents now gathered around the screen, analyzing the screen and trying to guess what’s in the bag. Including an “upper management” guy.)

Me: Our plane’s boarding and about to take off, can you guys just take the suitcase out, look at what’s inside instead of guessing what it could be based on what you see on the screen so we don’t miss our plane?

So, they do that. Take it to the side. Open it up, and pull out her two trophies.

TSA: Oh, this is what it was. They were two different sizes, so they looked funny.

Uh-huh, sure.

He proceeds to put them back and let us go, when an old TSA man says, “No, you need to go through protocol.”


So, he puts on the gloves, pulls out something to wipe her suitcase down for bomb stuff or something. At this point I tell her I’m going to run to the plane and tell them not to take off without us.

Me: This will teach you to stop winning trophies.

Luckily we made the flight. Because it was the last one out of PDX to get home.

So, I got my trophies and metals, kicked some serious butt and am prepping for my next feis in February in SLC. Where I plan on kicking some more butt and bringing home even more bling.


Here's a fun short(er) video for a Seniors Parade of Champions



  1. Woo hoo!!!! Way to rock that feis - you and your friend! :D I'm glad it turned out to be a great time for you guys! Sheesh, gotta love TSA standing there contemplating what could be in the bag, rather than bothering to actually LOOK inside. Good thing you were there to promote some action. :)

  2. Thank you!! :) It was so much fun! When the one in town comes back, you'll have to come and watch.