Irish dance: The heel of the reel

Stone Henge in Bywong

Stone Henge in Bywong, Australia winter morning

You don’t realise how important your feet are until you are injured and can’t get about. Fortunately, mine is not permanent and my burn is heeling(!) well with the help of regular applications of aloe vera, growing conveniently in our North-facing sunroom. I have been unable to wear anything but very loose slippers for nearly 3 weeks now but in the last few days, going without slippers, socks or bandage has allowed the air to help the skin to grow back quickly. Thankfully, it’s warm inside the house while we have had some absolutely freezing days here in Bywong (see photo), with -6⁰C on Thursday and something similar when I was up at the crack of dawn on Saturday.

I was musing about how much I love getting about without shoes on – an old habit from growing up in the Pacific – and how much dancing I have done without my shoes on. I’m not really in favour of trying to dance sets without shoes, I think it’s too likely that a foot will get stamped on somewhere with someone’s hard shoes. But solo dancing – where’s the harm? The other thing is that there’s no hiding when you are doing battering or sean nós steps in barefeet. If your weight is not in the right place when you’re battering, you’ll make no sound at all with your feet. Unless, you’re cheating. Which I did when I did my little New Year’s Youtube effort Too Hot For Shoes, and had great fun with people trying to guess what I was actually wearing.

But none of this is any consolation to my poor Big Dog, who has been waiting all these weeks for me to take him out for a PROPER walk. None of this short-skip-and-hop-up-the road-in-me-slippers business. A real walk, please, at least an hour and preferably including a ride in the car. And dancing? He lies on his doggy couch watching me practice barefooted, eyes glazing over.”Seen it all before” he thinks. “It only gets interesting when she picks up my lead and heads for the door. With boots on.” Yawn.

Big Dog28 July 2013

Nora Stewart

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