While most (normal) people spend their Thanksgiving break at home with their families, stuffing their faces with delicious home-cooked food, I have spent the last 15 Thanksgivings of my life in hotels for the Mid America Irish Dance Championships. A weekend full of laughter, tears, dreams come true and disappointments, it is a truly unique experience that I wouldn’t change for anything.
This weekend isn’t all about the dancing, though. It is a chance when all the dancers, teachers, family and friends are together in one place, which can only mean one thing: we show off. We want to out-do everyone else, in our choreography, results, and especially the way we look. It’s a weekend full of fashion statements, both on and off the stage, and it is in this way that it is unlike any other weekend.
Firstly, we have the dance costumes, which are as colorful, sparkly, and ridiculous as you can possibly imagine. Yes, they might remind you a bit of the dresses that you see on Toddlers & Tiaras, but you have to remember that these are costumes. We are performers, and in order to be seen and stand out on stage, the glitz is a must. Between the tanning, wigs, makeup, costumes, shoes, and all-around glamour, it might seem unnecessary, but it is what many of us love about Irish dance. We can dress up and truly put on a show when we compete, and it becomes magical.
Off the stage, dance teachers, parents, friends, and dancers who are not competing on that day are trying to win another title: best dressed. You will see everything from the strictest business attire to dresses appropriate for a semi-formal dance, from tennis shoes to sky-high pumps. The range is amazing, but everyone looks fabulous.
My younger sister, Erin, who was unable to dance this year due to injury, was one of the many who wanted to look her absolute best when she couldn’t dance, so I put together an outfit for her to wear yesterday. I paired an off-white sequined tank from Ann Taylor with a pair of grey wool shorts from Jack Wills, a black silk trimmed blazer from Banana Republic, and a pair of suede ankle booties. The outfit was a statement, but also practical; she was comfortable, but looked effortlessly polished as well.
Other statement items were little black dresses and footwear, like these.
As one of the most fashionable weekends in the Irish dance world, it is one that we look forward to all year long. Next up, the World Championships in Belfast in April 2012, which are sure to impress even more.