We thought it would be fun to recall all the things we went through in years past. 

            So...

Remember when...
  • There were no rosters on the feis website.  Actually, there were no feis websites!  We didn't know what was going on until we got there!


  •  There were no stage assignments on the feis website. You got them when you picked up your number at the feis in the midst of chaos.  Oh yeah, there were no websites. 


  • The Chicago Feis was so cold, the judges and musicians were wrapped in blankets.


  •  The Chicago Feis was so hot, you couldn’t get your jeans on and off when you had to go to the portapotties  because they were stuck to your sweaty body.


  • The Cincinnati Feis was held at the “snake pit”.  (That was JO’s name for it.)  It always seemed like it was 150 degrees out.  There was no shade.  The stages were placed around a cinder track and you, invariable, were supposed to be dancing on two stages across the track at the same time in different shoes.  The Cincinnati Feis was our favorite feis in spite of the location because the volunteers that worked it were definitely there for the competitors.  One year, our dancers were supposed to be on two stages at once.  When they finished the first dance, they started to run around the track to the other side. The stage monitor ran to them to tell them to walk and take their time.  When the dancers got to the stage, the stage monitor got chairs for the dancers to sit and change their shoes.  The stage monitor then told the dancers to let her know when they were ready and the competition would start then.  We will always remember how wonderful the volunteers were at the “snake pit”.


  •  You could find JO at any feis because he had the infamous yellow feis hat.  He was busy entertaining the nondance siblings.  The parents could find him because of his hat.


  • The dancers had to learn all the dancers for the Oireachtas.  When the dancers checked in, the stage monitor would draw the soft shoe to dance and the hard shoe to dance.  You knew who was happy and who was not by the cheers and groans in the room.  Every dancer had to be ready to dance reel, slip jig, hornpipe, treble jig, as well as a set.  The older dancers had to learn two sets.


  • The Dayton Feis was held in the school that only had one air conditioned room and the open solo dancers were the lucky ones to dance in that room.  The wrestling room was very hot and it smelled like gas.  Every year, the novice dancers thought they were being asphyxiated.
  • The Dayton Feis where a dancer ‘filled in’ for the PC competition (so there was always two dancers at a time) and she got hurt – we heard she broke her leg.  There weren’t a lot of dancers that wanted to ‘fill in’ after that.


  • Feisanna gave out the awards at the stage following the competitions.


  • The lights went out at one of the stages at the Milwaukee Feis and the judge did not let the dancers in the dark, redance.


  • The St. Louis Feis in February had two stages with one musician and two judges for the entire feis.


  • You needed your mountain climbing gear to get to the stages at the Pittsburgh Feis.


  • The Toronto Nationals when the awards were still being given out at 2am.  Some of those dancers who had done ceili competitions had to do solos at 8am.


  • The Akron feis was held at the fair grounds and you had to go from barn to barn for competitions.  When  it was raining the competitors had to get from building to building in their costumes.  You could sit on the floor of woodchips or on a bale of hay.


  • Dancers danced on scalding stages because the sun had been beating on them for hours.  The dancers shifted from foot to foot to keep from having their feet burn.


  • The first Wisconsin Winterfeis only had 4 judges to start the day because the airports were fogged in and the other judges couldn’t  get to Milwaukee.


  •  The Cleveland feis had the vendors and the portapotties outside.  It, of course, rained there, too.  The bathroom inside invariably was clogged so the dancers had to go outside in the rain.


  • NO WIGS


  • NO TANNER


  • Spending hours setting hair and more hours taking the curls out in the morning.  Listening to girls crying because their moms were ripping their hair out and pulling their hair.  (Lucky we knew how to do it right).


  • Summer feisanna were held outside and we all survived without air conditioning.


  • Summer feisanna were held inside and we all survived without air conditioning.


  • There was no email or online registration.  You sent in your registration and showed up at a feis and hoped that you were in the feis.  There was a feis that people drove 6 hours and other people flew there and were told they were not in the feis.


  • The monsoons hit the Maryville feis.  The older PC and Championship dancers competed in their spankies & tshirts because everything was full of mud.


  • Before the Irish Point system, the scores would be announced judge by judge with the 12-5-2 system, and was usually written it out on a board for all to see.  There would be only 3-5 awards (about 20% placement) and for everyone else, it was a treat to get "a point on the board".


  •  The Pittsburgh feis where there was a swimming pool outside but we weren't allowed in it.  It was over 100 degrees and all we could do was stare at that pool on the hill (Isn't that a Beatles song?).


  •  Remember when it was okay for Mom to make the solo dress?


  •  Remember when we use to dance on concrete floors at class but not have a personal physiotherapist?  When having shin splints meant we weren't working hard enough?


  • Someone must remember when the Cleveland Feis ran so late that the committee pulled up their cars and turned on the headlights to light up the stages--it was before my time but a story I always hear about.


  • Remember when the Detroit Feis was in the Seminary grounds and it went on until after dark and some of the Championships were danced under the stars, with Headlights of cars as the stage lighting.


  • Remember when some Dance Drama's, as they are now called, had live animals as part of the cast.


  • Remember when the best part of going to a feis was the trip and the family fun!  (Gone feis'n) (Bus trips with our dancing school). 


  •  It was not about winning  #'s of 1st places in order to go to the Oireachtas.  Your dancing teacher decided when you were ready and back then they didn't send you until you were ready.  You went to a feis to go to a feis not ever thinking of what region you were dancing in.


  • My mom would hand me and my sister our numbers and it was our responsibility to be at the stage when the competition was up.  I could always look out from the stage and see my mom out there smiling at me.  I used to think that you won medals if you smiled at the judge and pointed your toes.  (that's what mom told me).  You were considered lucky when you came home with medals.


  • A feis day always ended with the Choreographies (usually around 9:00 p.m.).  Only boys danced the treble reel.  Figures were important and danced at all feisianna. 


  • A feis was a social gathering for our parents (a lot of our parents were born in Ireland).


  •  Mom only curled your hair when you were little. As teenagers we wore our hair with headbands  (only one) and styled it the way we would in everyday life (yes even in Championship levels).


  • We earned our solo dresses and wore class costumes until we danced in open solo.  Mom would bring home embroidery patterns and material swatches and we designed our dresses and got to pick out the colors.


  • Remember when our moms would just pass down class costumes and not sell them.  My mom just passed away a couple of years ago and when one of my former dancing friend's mother gave me one of my old class costumes that my mother made and embroidered it meant the world to me to have it again.  Do solo costumes mean that much now?  I try to make dancing "real" or "reel" for my 12 year old daughter.  I try to be like my mom and tell her to do her best!  I wish my mom was here to see her fly!  She would be proud.


  • Remember when the moms would be sitting at dance class hand embroidering the solo costumes for their daughters.  A lot was accomplished by the moms while the daughters were doing classes.


  • Remember when we had fun at each feis we went to and didn’t spend our time complaining about the judges, the musicians, the venue, the temperature, the food, the medals, the parking, and anything else people can whine and complain about.  Remember when we appreciated all the feis committee did and didn’t write nasty things about the feis and their committee members on the message boards.
  • The dancers didn't "have to" curl their hair, and just wore it however it suited them best.


  •  There were no fiberglass tips, and the hard shoes had layers of leather with little nails pounded in them.  Sometimes you had to buy the shoes BEFORE they were nailed, and if you had not had time to have them nailed, you danced in them with just the leather on the bottom.  And you could still win!


  • You had to set your own music for your set, from the center of the stage, waving at the musician to signal a little faster or a little slower.  No specific metronome tempos to make it easy.  If you set it too fast or too slow and started dancing, you danced to it, all the way through, and made the best of it.  If you were lucky, you did a lot of feisanna, and the musicians who played championships and preliminaries (the only places you EVER got to do sets except for the Oireachtas) got to know your speed pretty well.  If you were unlucky, and your nerves got the best of you, you spent a lot of time dancing to music that was way too fast or way too slow.  But that is the way it was!


  • EVERYONE danced one at  a time.


  • I remember camping at the Youngstown feis. You were allowed to actually bring a tent and camp right on the grounds. With one car, the whole family had to go to every feis and with 6 kids and parents from Ireland, we never stayed in a hotel. You could see the feis from the Ohio turnpike. There was a swimming pool that was really just a mud hole but we thought it was great.


  • I remember going to a feis in Hamilton, Ontario that was held at a football stadium. It was cold and rainy so the feis moved to the area underneath the stands. My parents had brought a Coleman stove because we were camping somewhere. They set up the Coleman stove and made tea for whoever wondered by.


  • I remember when most feis's had a beer tent. My dad was from Kerry but not too interested in the dancing. He went to the feis's to meet up with his friends from home. Most feis's also had activities for the non-dancing sibs to do and if there was any Irish football being played, that's where you could find my dad and brothers.


  • Here's how I got my hard shoes. My mom traced my foot on a piece of paper and sent it to my grandmother who lived on a little farm in the west of Kerry. I cannot imagine how my grandmother did it but somehow she procured a pair of shoes that were relatively close to my size. There was, of course, no returning them and you just learned to live with blisters. Then, I had to take the shoes to our local shoemaker who was from Italy and try to explain to him that I wanted him to put layers of leather on the toes. No fibreglass then. I don't think I EVER had a pair of hard shoes that really fit right.


  • When I was buying my daughters hard shoes, I fell hard for the ones that guarenteed they were blister proof. And you know, she has worn them for almost 2 years and has never had a blister.


  • Remember when it only cost $4.00 to enter each solo dance?


  •  Your Oireachtas number was held up next to you as you stood on stage for your intro.  The moms had worked way too hard to have pins go through those velvet dresses.


  •  Dancers didn't wear "poodle socks", they wore matching colored bobby socks to their dress, then knee highs to match became popular.  There were no ghilles, only regular black ballet shoes with the single strap! 


If you would like to submit a "remember when" email us now!