Glossary of Irish Dance Terms

A  basic primer of unique words and terms related to the art and science of “Feising”.

Association Rule: A CLRG rule that stipulates that any person, whether registered with An Coimisiún or not, who gives a workshop in any form to a class should be regarded as being associated with that class and any other dancing school in which they have an involvement, whether directly or indirectly. All classes associated with such a person should be regarded as being connected by association. This rule does not apply to shows to include cabarets, cultural events tours and folk festivals and full time College and University students. (Hope that clears things up).

Bloomers: also known as Kick Pants or Spankies. The  one item of clothing your daughter neglects to put back on in a last minute rush to dress for the awards ceremony (especially when she places and has to climb up a podium).

Duct Tape: The very essence of Irish Dance. Typically used to improve adhesion of dancer’s footgear on slippery stages. Also effective in quieting recalcitrant siblings at a Feis.

False Tan: A solution applied to exposed parts of female dancers to improve definition of muscular tone and appearance, especially of the legs. Also effective for permanently staining poodle socks and solo dress linings .

Feis: An Irish Dance Competition. (Note: “Fesh” is an acceptable alternative spelling in the Southern Region)

Feis Bucket:  The ultimate gadget in Feis-gear-hauling and Irish-dancer-butt sitting. An empty five-gallon container typically used in either the construction or restaurant business to hold drywall joint compound or bulk guacamole (available free from your local construction site trash pile or Tex-Mex restaurant dumpsters).  Available from Feis vendors for fifty dollars.

Feis Camp:  A semi permanent, structured area that serves as a  family “base of operations” at a Feis usually defined by a circle of chairs and/or blanket in which Feis related materials are stored for easy access and retrieval throughout the day. Location is the key and areas with quick access to the competition, food-concessions, and restrooms but in a nice upscale neighborhood with good schools are preferred.

Feis Pile:  A Feis camp thirty minutes after the first competition of the day.

Four Inches: A unit of measurement above the knee previously used by dressmakers to conform to skirt length requirements of dance dresses. Typically varied between four to twelve inches.

Growth Spurt: A rapid increase in the rate of growth during adolescence that occurs immediately after mailing out final payment for a new solo dress.

Irish Points: Scoring system used in championship competitions. Nobody knows exactly how it works and dancers generally accept the results without “quibbling” (the ultimate act of faith for Irish Dancers).

MAID: Mother Addicted to Irish Dance – A woman who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society renouncing all worldly pursuits in order to devote her life to contemplation of her daughter’s next solo dress.

MAR: Mid America Region (see MAR)

MAR: Mid Atlantic Region (see MAR)

Mass: Religious ceremony often held the morning of a Feis in which Feis Moms pray for divine intervention for their daughter in Hornpipe.

Mass: (Alternative use in the Southern Region) “Do these bloomers make mass look big?”

Oireachtas: A large regional Irish Dance Competition which occurs the weekend before the arrival of your daughter’s new solo dress.

Oireachtas: (Alternative use in the MAR and MAR)  Where you spend Thanksgiving.

Oireachtasm:  Medical term used to describe the sensation felt by those overwhelmed by the whole Oireachtas experience.


Podium: (< Latin: elevated place, balcony < Greek “pódion”: little foot) One small step for a man, one giant shrieking, sobbing, grinning, crying, happy leap for an Irish Dancer.

Second First: Because the “First First” just wasn’t good enough.

Sock Glue: Definitive proof of the absurdity of Irish Dance. A type of roll-on glue used to affix garments on a dancer. The use of sock glue became very popular in the late 1990’s following the ban on surgical fasteners and staple guns.

Solo Dress: A particularly ornate dance outfit worn by girls competing in upper competition levels. Purchasing a solo dress should not be attempted until you are at least a 3rd degree Feis Mom as the process requires advanced knowledge of financing, fabric care, international monetary rates, dressmaker negotiating skills, international customs law, airline carry-on baggage limitations, and odor removal techniques.

Spike Curls: “Wig in a bag” kit for do-it-yourselfers typically applied in a ratio of 25 spike curls per glass of wine.

Stage Presents:  An important aspect of the “Irish points” system as higher scores are given by adjudicators based on the dancer’s stage presents. Dark chocolate for female judges and simple, assertive ties for male judges are considered appropriate presents.

TCRG:  Irish dance teacher. PronouncedTeagascóir Choimisiúin le Rinci Gaelacha” (Even they can’t pronounce it).

Toes Tans:  Prohibited in competitions for dancers U-12 and under. Exceptions are made after September 1, of each calendar year for 11 year old dancers in U-12 competitions as it is typically the beginning of a new class year in most Irish dance schools.  This allows the U-12 dancers to practice their toes tans for the following Feis year.

Whilst In Motion: A designated competition period created by An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha during which parents may take illegal photographs of their children.

Wristband Nazi

 Wrist Band: A paper strip identifying those individuals that have paid the appropriate Feis-entry Fee as opposed to those that enter through the back door.

Wrist Band Nazi: An overzealous wrist band checker at Feis.

Note: This glossary is a “work in progress” with frequent additions anticipated, so check back periodically.

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2 Responses to Glossary of Irish Dance Terms

  1. Holly Dayz says:

    Love this! My girls are preparing for their first feis next month.

  2. Megan says:

    Please let your Southern region know about camping- thank you for listing it here. I attended the Historic Savannah Feis from Midwest Region and when I approached several groups asking about the camping they looked at me like I had three heads. Finally a very kind mother said, “Oh dear, this is the South. We have stadium seating and a place for you to hang your dress bag. This is not a mosh pit like you do in the Midwest!”

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