Threes and Sevens


At a recent church fish fry Dad met Peggy, the instructor of the Shanahan School of Irish Dance. The school is literally just up the street from my house. Dad being who he is quickly engaged her in conversation, and was invited to attend a lesson. It seems that it’s hard to attract men to Irish stepdance, so the instructor was all too glad that dad might give it a shot. When Dad told me about this, I quickly invited myself, and we agreed to attend the next lesson.

That lesson was tonight. Dad and I met four young women, and two other guys. Two of the girls spent about ten minutes teaching Dad and me the basic steps of “threes” and “sevens”. Threes are done moving forward or backward, and sevens are done from side to side. The back is kept straight; the arms are kept down to the side, and slightly behind the hips – unless a partner is involved, in which case the arm is raised with the man’s hand palm up holding the woman’s hand. After this quick primer, we were thrust into a real dance. Peggy assured us that as long as we ended up where we were supposed to be, she would consider it a success, and that we would learn the footwork in due time. I only barely ended up in the designated location, and my steps were completely off from the dance, but thankfully no one seemed to mind.

A more complicated dance quickly followed. This was a “progressive” dance, which means that it keeps going until the music stops. We paired off to dance one round, then ended each round by taking the person to the other side as our next partner. In this way, all of the men danced with all of the women, after which Peggy called the dance complete. It was a real challenge to remember the threes and sevens and the general flow of the dance. I only screwed up a couple of times, and never so badly as to bring the dance to a halt, thankfully.

Overall the evening was a lot of fun, even thought it was exhausting! I’m really glad that Dad and I went. I’m also really looking forward to the next lesson! I’ve long wanted to learn some kind – any kind – of dance. I’m not a particularly coordinated fellow, so I’m eager to acquire some physical discipline, even if it’s not something I can do with any regularity. I don’t think I’ll get into the competitive dancing, but you never know…

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