Custom-dress Regret Anxiety and Panic Syndrome (CRAPS)

An in-depth look at something that, at one time or another, will affect us all, from new contributor, Patty O’Bench.

1513fad900fc46de1bd9a6e5036bb4d0Have you put a deposit down on a solo dress? Are you checking email obsessively hoping for a photo or a FedEx tracking number? Do you worry endlessly that you’ve made a big mistake and you should have forked out the extra money for a Gavin?

You might be suffering from Custom-dress Regret Anxiety and Panic Syndrome or CRAPS. The symptoms of CRAPS change with each stage but might include the following:

Stage One

  • Anticipating the moment your daughter earns her first solo dress. This symptom includes bargaining with God, biting your nails, private lessons and searching for a Feis with four other dancers in her category.
  • Dreaming of your little darling in the most gorgeous dress ever created. It must stop people in their tracks.
  • Combing the internet for the perfect dress that can be slightly tweaked and made again for your daughter without copyright violations., Dance-again, Pinterest and every dress maker’s sight on the planet are bookmarked on your browser and dinner is late – again.
  • Sketching and coloring dresses in a sketch book from Michael’s – extra points if you have tiny bling on your sketch.
  • Seriously considering selling any of the following: plasma, a kidney, a sibling of the dancer or your grandmother’s wedding ring to finance the dress.

Stage Two (post earning the dress)

  • Immediately after sending an exorbitant amount of money to a complete stranger, which is just half of final cost, you second guess yourself.
  • Stressing over the sketch from the dress maker, how long will it take, will the designer understand how special the dress needs to be and did you communicate the color accurately? These questions result in no sleep from CRAPS.
  • You panic because the sketch is taking much longer than you thought.
  • You eye your daughter every morning because you know that the measurements you sent are way too small even though it has only been a week. You consider feeding her junk food so she won’t grow before the dress is out of style (four months – at most)

Stage Three

  • You vacillate between reassuring yourself that the dress will be lovely and perfect with panicking because you are scared it will be so hideous that you won’t be able to sell it – EVER.
  • Telling yourself and anyone who will listen, that you will never, ever make another dress again. The stress is too much and at least with a used dress you know what it looks like and how it fits. You will take the body odor of a thousand used dress over going through this process again.
  • You make the above statements while simultaneously dreaming of how you will manage the next solo dress designing and creating with a fresh perspective with all that you have learned. These conflicting symptoms occur while waiting for the dress to arrive. This is when you can sure that you have CRAPS and that you need help.
  • You pre-order additional matching crystals so you are prepared to bling the dress out to the max. You throw in a new wig and a tiara because who can debut a new dress without everything being bright and shiny.

Stage Four

  • Resignation. You succumb to the fact that you will never have a savings account and that until your daughter gets a wedding dress, you will be going through this process every year. With wine in hand, you get on your laptop start pinning solo dresses that your picky TCRG might consider…maybe…probably not. Sigh.

Take a minute, and add a comment below telling us if you have CRAPS…

The Shoe Shine Post

idblHardShoesWhat The Feis do you do to get her shoes that shiny?

A few people have asked about what I do to get TGC’s (that is The Girl Child in case you are new to my blog) shoes looking the way they do. Its easy, step 1, join the Navy, step 2, go to boot camp… OK, so maybe that is a little extreme, but it is how I learned. I use a technique commonly called ‘spit shine’ or ‘bull polishing’, but don’t worry, there is no actual spit or bulls involved

Please note, I have put as much detail into this as I could to try to describe the process. There are actually very few steps, but I tried to list all the little nuances to consider and be aware of. I am not big on videoing, and I can’t hold a camera and polish shoes at the same time anyway, so this is going to have to do. I will gladly demo in person, at the hotel bar, the night before a feis, by appointment only ;).

Bringing Back the Spit Shine

Here is a list of what you need to get the shine in the pictures, the After, not the Before

  • Kiwi Black Shoe Polish in the little round can, not a bottle or anything with a spongy applicator
  • Old tshirt, white – cut into small pieces. I guess it doesn’t have to be white, but that’s what I always use.
  • Small container of hot water – the water helps the polish stick to the shoes instead of the tshirt.
  • A beverage – suggested, not required
  • Time
  • Patience


NOTE: The shiny shoes in the pictures where shined with a very old can of Kiwi (at least 13 years old if memory serves). Recently I bought their latest product as my old can is nearly empty, but I am not impressed with the shine. It is OK but no where near the shine I can get with the older stuff. I have not tried their ‘Parade Shine’ product, which I am hoping will be more like the polish I am used to, and will let you know when I do. Bottom line, your mileage may vary.

I have a plethora of old white tshirts from my Navy days, so I use those to apply the polish. I assume any tshirt will work though. Cut the tshirt into small pieces so that you can wrap it around your finger covering the tip, while being able to hold it securely with at least two layers of shirt between you and the shoe as you apply the polish.

For the container of water, use something you won’t mind getting polish on, because inevitably you will get polish on it. Keep the lid off a can of spray paint or hairspray, and add that to your shoe shine kit.

A little polish, a little water, and little circles

  1. Wrap a piece of tshirt around your finger and dip it in the warm water, just moist, not really wet. Wipe both shoes with the damp tshirt to get any dirt and debris off them.
  2. Grab a new piece of shirt, wrap it around your finger again with at least two layers of tshirt covering your finger. This ‘helps’ keep your finger clean, but you will probably get some polish bleed through. You can try more than two layers, but I always go with two and just deal with the black finger tip.
  3. Making sure the tshirt is secure, dip your finger in the water like in step one, and then get a small bit of polish on your fingertip. Start applying polish to the shoe in small circles, about the size of a Kennedy half-dollar, or the diameter of a ping pong ball for you people who have no idea how big a KHD is 😉
  4. Repeat Step 3, a lot.

beforeShineI tend to blacken the entire shoe, laying polish in pretty heavy to damaged areas. Make sure it is rubbed in well, and there are no thick spots that can rub off easily and give a spotted cow look to your poodle socks.

After the entire shoe is evenly blackened, I start working on the front of the shoe and toe. You can shine the entire shoe, but the top and front is the focus area, besides the fact that doing the entire shoe will completely eat up your Friday night. I repeat step 3, continuously, still working in small circles. I keep the tshirt moist and will occassionally get a dab of polish first, and then a small dip of water on top of it, and continue the process. There is no rhyme or reason to when to dip polish first or water first, just make sure you don’t get the tshirt too wet.

To get things really shiny, the objective is to get the polish spread over the entire area (remember, I focus just on the top and front of the shoe for the ‘mirror’ shine). Going over the area repeatedly builds layers of polish and helps fill in the grain of the leather. You are not really going to shine the leather, you are going to shine the polish on the leather, so having the leather grain filled in and having a smooth coat of polish is important.

Occasionally, check the condition of the tshirt on your fingertip, as I find that the tshirt can get rough with use and can actually scratch the polish instead of getting a smooth application. You may consider swapping it out for a fresh piece or rearraging it so you are using a clean section of the same piece. This is also the reason I do not use a shoe shine brush. I know they are intended for buffing, but I tend to think they have more of a scrathy effect.

afterShineRepeating the process above will begin to bring on the shine, so keep going until you are satisfied with it. Remember, you will have to do the other shoe and they ‘should’ match, so plan ahead for time.

To finish off, after I have the polish worked in and start to get a nice shine, I will keep going with the little circles(making sure the shirt is not scratchy), even when the last bit of polish is rubbed in from the cloth. As long as the shirt is soft, gentle circles after you have plenty of polish applied will shine the polish. You will actually learn to feel the difference between the ‘raw’ leather and one with a good coat of polish because the cloth will slide more easily over the shoe.

Finally, I will breathe onto to the toe and go over it a little bit more with the cloth, and repeat that a few times. I have it in my head that the warm breath heats the polish a little, and finishes off the shine nicely. I don’t know why I think that, but I have been polishing shoes like this for a very long time, so…

Depending on the condition of the leather and how well the polish is going on, this can take quite a bit of time. I have literally spent an hour on one shoe, so I find it best to set aside a lot of time, put on some mindless tv, grab a beverage, and go to it. It should not take as long the next time, because you have a base of polish on the shoe, but if you go a while between shines, you may have to spend some time on them again. In the peak of feis season, when I am doing the shoes every week or so, I can do both in about 30 minutes, which is probably longer than you spend on them now so plan, you don’t want to get one done and run out of time.

And thats it, really. I know there is a lot of detail there, but I didn’t want to leave anything out. If you boil it all down, it is just a little polish, a little water, and little circles. I would love to see how yours come out. Take before and after pictures. You can post them on the WTF page(s) if you want. Be careful though, if you get really good at it, people will ask you for lessons, trust me 😉

A Very Basic Intro To Irish Dances

In my feeble attempt to prove I know something about Irish Dance, I have created another post for Antonio Pacelli, this time on the basic Irish dances. Meant as a primer for new parents, it may be a bit uninformative for a lot of you, but honestly, I picked up some things I didn’t know when I researched it so it might be worth a quick read. So, take a look at A Very Basic Intro To Irish Dances

Attending Your First Feis

A contribution by my friend Mellie Wilkes who thought some of you would find it useful. Thanks Mellie!

So, an amazingly talented friend or family member has invited YOU to a feis?


The following are some suggestions and tips, to help in your first feis experience.

Packing List:

  • Water bottle
  • Snack bar
  • Peppermints
  • Chocolate bar
  • Highlighter
  • Ink pen
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cash in small bills
  • Plenty of time
  • Sense of humor

Bonus points for packing the following:

EDITORS NOTE: I didn’t tell her to put that in here, but I do think its brilliant 😉

Try to arrive 30-45 minutes beforehand. Parking at any event can be a challenge. A feis is no exception. The competitions can happen very quickly. It would be a shame, to arrive at a feis and the dancer you came to see has finished for the day. So, arrive EARLY!

When you walk into the feis, and the surrounding area, try NOT to stare at people. It is rude, in general, and especially frowned upon at a feis. Yes, they are wearing wigs. So, yes, that would make it their real hair. They bought it. They probably still have the receipt. No, the dress has not been bedazzled. It has been designed to be more eye catching on stage. And, this is NOT Riverdance. That is a traveling Irish dance show, which has been around for 20 years. This is a feis. So, smile. You are obviously favored enough to have been invited. Behave yourself.

No snapping random pictures of people to post online, either. If you would not do it at a restaurant, church, or mall, then do not do it at a feis. Feis moms have high level radars. Photographing their dancers will set them off. You DO NOT want to set off a feis mom radar. Photography is also forbidden of dancers on stage, unless they are in the beginner levels.

So, eyes up. Cameras and phones down.

Pick up a schedule at the registration desk. You will want it while sitting in the audience. The competition numbers are posted, and rotated, at the side of the stage. Highlighters are the usual method of tracking the current competition on the stage. You can also draw a line through the number with a pen. Be sure to clap at the end of each competition. Those dancers have just done their best. Appreciate their work. You never know if one of their family members is seated right next to you. Also, NEVER say ugly, critical, or unflattering things about ANYONE at a feis. You are in tight quarters. Most everyone’s ears work. You will be overheard. Remember that behave yourself suggestion? This applies here, too.

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Smile and nod. Clap and laugh.

Sometimes all at once.

When watching the amazingly talented dancer who invited you on stage, pay attention. Watch their feet. The real work happens with a dancer’s feet. In Irish, the toes are to be pointed out. They are to be dancing high up on their toes. They are also to keep their arms down by their sides. If they have high kicks, lovely spins, or energetic jumps, remember those bits. Complement the dancer specifically on them. They have likely spent hours in working on that aspect of their performance. Show them you care and paid attention to them. After all, they invited you to the feis.

You are quite favored, you know. Not everyone is invited, after all.

Between dances, they may be searching for the bonus point packing items. You will be most appreciated if you can produce those items rapidly, in a moment of need. The dancer will certainly be impressed. If you did not pack them, no worries. Just try to be helpful and supportive while they search for them, between dances. Then, be sure to pay attention to their other dances. The hard shoe portion can be especially exciting. Sometimes for more reasons than just the dancing. If there are sound system errors, they usually show up in these rounds. Heels, tips, and entire shoes have been known to go flying.

So, pay attention. You never know what may happen at a feis.

If asked, accompany them to the results area. This will be an area frequented by dancers and non dancers alike. Usually, it is a lot of paper posted on a wall. Or two. It is very important paper, so don’t laugh! Be excited about any placement they receive. Be sympathetic if they do not place. Remember the chocolate bar and peppermints I told you to pack? Now is the time to offer those to the dancer.

Oh, you thought they were for you? No. You get the water bottle and snack bar. They just danced. They get the chocolate.

Walk around the feis. Check out any baking or Celtic art competitions on display. Be sure to visit the vendors. Don’t try on a wig, unless you plan to buy one. Many of the items are difficult to find, or are only available at the feis. A feis t shirt is a great souviner. It is also an excellent gift, if you would like to buy something for the dancer who invited you.

Enjoy yourself. Stay awhile. Meet their feis friends. Watch other competitions and award ceremonies. The feis is an experience. One to which you are fortuate to have been invited.

And be sure to tell the amazingly talented person who invited you “Thank you!”

Who knows? You may even receive an invitation to the Oireachtas.

An Intro to Irish Dance Terms

orockwhatThe next post in my Feis Dad series out on Antonio Pacelli is a quick intro to some of the terms used in Irish Dance. You know the easy ones to say like ‘feis’. Don’t laugh, you know you probably said it wrong before you were ‘in the know’.

So take a look and let me know if I captured all of them out at An Introduction to Irish Dance Terms.





It’s August, it must be creeper season…

Sorry for the title, trying to get your attention. If you have been a What The Feis groupie for a while, you have probably already seen the article I posted last August about the guy videoing dancers at a feis. If not, here is the link again.

Why am I bringing it up, well, it happened again this weekend and I wanted to share the story from a follower who messaged it to me via Facebook.

Wanted to write to you and let you know that we were at the Missouri State Championships in St. Louis this weekend and while watching the PC/OC stage we sat next to an older gentleman. We noticed that he was not just watching one particular child and when a young little dancer would walk by him he would write her number down on a sheet if paper. When I took a closer look at the sheet he was writing on there were LOTS of different dancers numbers. We went to let the volunteers know and in about five minutes staff of the Feis and hotel security were talking to the man. He stated he was just watching his “granddaughter” but he became very uncomfortable while they talked with him. Staff then looked like they were leaving but the hotel security guard sat two rows back. We watched as this man crumpled the numbers sheet up and dropped it on the floor and then he got up and walked out of the room. The security guard followed him out. We later caught back up with the staff and security guard and they stated they took his photo and all staff would have his picture for Sundays Feis. It was just scary to know that this happens even though we read about it this hit home for our school and we spread the word for dancers to be vigilant about what they are walking around in and also who is talking/watching them.

She also added:

the STAFF for the Feis did an amazing job at handling this! I think they need to know that too. 🙂

It truly saddens me that these kinds of things happen, but this should serve as a reminder that we have to be always watching. That is not easy at a feis, with everything that is going on, but if just one person reports anything ‘out of the ordinary’, it will make a difference.

Please share this with everyone, the more people that are aware that it CAN happen to them, the better. It happened to us.

You may also want to take a look at some of the other posts about safety I have put together. If you have any to share, please do and I will post links to them.

Thanks, and please be careful out there!

Haiku, Haiku

This month has been a bit crazy, so for my Antonio Pacelli post this month, I am sharing some of the haiku I have previously posted here on WTF. If you have found them here, no point in clicking the link, but if you want to find out what I think about Irish Dance in 5/7/5, take a look at Haiku…You’re Welcome out on the Feis Dad page of Antonio Pacelli.

Feis Dads – Extra Strong T-Shirt Design

UPDATE: It is now available for purchase, click here.


I rolled this out to a few dozen people a few weeks ago and it was received really well. So I would like to formerly announce the upcoming release of the Feis Dads – Extra Strong T-Shirt.

Inspired by some old Irish drink labels, in case you can’t tell,  Feis Dads Extra Strong is a play on a dad’s ‘typical’ role in Irish dance. The date is based on info I found about when feiseanna became an organized sport.


The initial release will be on black t-shirts and I hope to have them available the weekend of 7/12. It will be priced in the $21 to $23 range due to the two-color design.

Let me know what you think and if you love it, share it  😉

What goes online, stays online…

foreverThis morning, while getting caught up on things in my home office, with my ever present social media streams going on the monitor, I saw a well-known dancer who I have always admired post a rather derogatory over-generalization.  I won’t say who or what, you can probably find it, and that is the point of this post.

I know people use social media for all kinds of reasons; to praise, to complain, to share, to seek, to buy, and so on. What lots of people seem to forget, or maybe not realize in the first place is, that temporary rant that is on your screen right now, and off it 15 seconds from now, is still out there.

I am not guilt-free here, I have bitched, posted negative reviews, and criticized companies online. I realize that these comments will be out there and will most likely be seen by the ‘targets’ of those comments, and in general, that is my intention, hoping to get a reaction that fixes an issue. My comments are posted intentionally, with a purpose. I am not saying that makes it right, I am saying that what you post could have results, some that you may not have intended.

So when I saw that post this morning, and know what an influence this dancer has on so many, I began to wonder how her comment might be perceived by her audience, and how it might affect what others think. Please note that I saw the comment as a rant, a vent, blowing off steam at a current situation, and it was not unlike similar comments made by thousands everyday. It just made me think.

I imagine some of her fans who see the comment and think to themselves ‘well if she sees it that way, and I admire her, than I should maybe think that way too.’ On the other hand, I can see people who look up this person after hearing about her for the first time, seeing that comment and thinking ‘what a diva, I don’t know why she is so popular.’

So what is the point?

You are thinking, I am not popular, I don’t have thousands of followers, what I say doesn’t matter. Yes, yes it does. It may not matter right at this very moment, and truthfully, it may never matter, but before you post something, you need to think about the fact that someday it might matter. This goes for words, for pictures, for videos, for whatever, because what you post today, in that moment of anger, sadness, joy, whatever will still be out there years from now. Is it something you want your Dad to find, your Grandmum when she finally joins Twitter, or your potential boss in two years when you are going for that $50K a year job?

And if you do have thousands of followers, it may matter more. You have thousands of followers for a reason, they think the things that come out of your brain are important, or funny, or informative. You affect people. Please remember that in that moment of ‘insert emotion here’ when you post that ‘insert potentially negative stuff here’, because it might affect somebody in a way you never imagined.

But I never use my name, no one knows me…

Or so you think.

In the interest of full disclosure, we had a social media incident in the WTF household. TGC had an anonymous Twitter account which started innocently enough, but which ended abruptly when she made a snide comment about a dancer at her school. You see, although she never used her name, or her school name, there was enough info there that some of the dancers at her school knew it was her posting, but never revealed that they knew. Imagine my surprise when I got a call from the TCRG telling me about the account.

It took her a long time to rebuild the relationships she had damaged because of that social media account, and the one time she posted something hurtful is what caused all the damage, the one time.

I am off my soapbox now…

Sorry, as you can see this is a subject that hits close to home. Remember your words do not go away. Please pass this on to whoever you think might be able to use it. BTW, that is all of us 🙂

A Tribute to Feis Dads, Father’s Day 2014

dadsAs I drove home from the Indianapolis Feis, I thought it was about time to write another blog post for my Antonio Pacelli blogging gig. What better than to write a small tribute to the Feis Dad’s out there on their weekend, and why not post it on AP so it can reach a wider audience. Even though the whole world isn’t having Father’s Day this weekend, it is still appropriate since Feis Dad is a 24/7/365 kind of thing.

So, without further ado, go read my Tribute to Irish Dance Dads. And Dads, thanks for all you do and Happy Father’s Day!