Greetings and salutations! It's that time of year again! The both dreaded and loved Oireachtas season *erie music plays in background*
You'll be hearing from me a bit more than usual this month, as the Oireachtas season always has me waxing poetic...
But I digress...
I'm sure many of you have seen the YouTube video called "Shoes". Unfortunately, due to it's non PG13 language, I refuse to post it here, but it is very hilarious. It reminds me of my own situation with my Irish Dance footwear!
When it comes to Irish Dance shoes and breaking them in... I am the most STUBBORN mule that you will ever meet.
I hate breaking in shoes!! I hate the toe blisters, I hate the heel blisters, I hate that they are so stiff and not my own. If I had the opportunity to only break in one pair of shoes that would grow with me for life, I'd be all for it.
My teachers especially hate my old hardshoes: "You're wearing those STILL?!?!?!" or "You can't be serious".
My shoes are actually a discontinued version, which makes them much easier to date. I'd say they are about 7 years old. They are the black flexi bottoms and the black sole has been replaced at least 4 times. The shoemaker actually told me that he could no longer patch them anymore, which made me very sad. I've also had them re-tipped at least 4 times.
I should have retired them after the Belfast Worlds in 2008. They had such a large hole on the bottom that you could see my socks. I had a panic attack, as I was leaving in 2 days and clearly didn't have time to break in new shoes. My dad, being very ingenious, slathered epoxy on the the balls of the shoe and we "painted" the coating in Sharpie marker so I was still able to dance.
Want to see how bad the shoes look? I'll warn you, they aren't pretty!
Here she is, a "normal" looking left hardshoe; perhaps the inner heel is looking a bit worn:
Ok, maybe the side view is showing a little more wear. I do love gaffer's tape, as I have an unnatural fear of falling every other second. Yes, I should be untying my shoes when I take them off; it's another bad habit of mine.
Now it gets gross. Check out the LAYERS of tape on the sole.. I'm talking 2 years of tape.
Let's see both shoes to survey the real damage! The white powder is rosin. My practice area at home and at the house I practice at during the week have wonderful plywood flooring, but I still get nervous about "slippage". A few badly sprained ankles has me very superstitious.
Here is the real meat and potatoes of my issues. I was able to dig under the layers of gaffers tape to reveal the epoxy my dad placed on my shoes could they could last for "just one more competition" aka the Worlds over 2 years ago!
One of these tips is NOT like the other!!!! I guess I'm a dominant right foot trebler ;)
My "practice" pair of softshoes are equally as gross. I have a "practice" pair and a "competition" pair. Not only am I breaking in new hardshoes, but a new competition pair for the Oireachtas so I can retire my pathetic looking practice pair:
These are a 2.5. They look like they have been stretched to a size 8 or 9!
The bottom of my shoe is being held together exclusively by gaffers tape and HOPE!
The bottom has seen better days too. I had better break in my new competition pair STAT!
Due to time constraints, I'm left to break in my new shoes whenever I can. I wear them around the apartment while I'm washing dishes, while I'm reading my blogroll, or even sitting at work. Good thing my desk/cube area is away from the general public, as this is what you would see:
Yes, my friends, this is me using my space heater (I'm perpetually cold) to try to soften the leather so it doesn't feel like I'm binding my feet like the Chinese used to do. My toe knuckles are actually protruding!
I definitely not recommend being as stubborn as me and waiting until 3 weeks before the Oireachtas to realize that my old hardshoes are very likely to fall apart as I walk on stage for round one.
Keep practicing, whether it is for the big Oireachtas, your next local feis, or major performance :) Believe in yourself and remember why you dance.. because you LOVE it!