Jigs & Reels: Inside The Dark World Of Irish Dancing


EARLIER this week, many were shocked at revelations of rampant cheating in the Irish dancing community. But not us here at WWN Dance Crime desk. This kind of cheating is well known to those in the know. It came as no surprise to us that many judges and competition organisers were named as being part of the scandal. What you may not know, is that the rot has been going on for longer than the Siege of Ennis.

While many may be under the impression that the Irish dancing community is populated by ‘ordinary decent dancers’, the truth is that the entire industry is rife with corruption, crime, and brutality. Hundreds if not thousands of dancers, all afraid of stepping on the wrong toes.

Take Waterford’s largest Irish Dance boss for example. If we were to print his real name in the paper today, we’d have a tin whistle through our eye socket by tomorrow. But we know he funnels millions into the underground rince economy. This man is well known to gardai. In leaked dossiers, he is referred to only as ‘Mr. Jig’.

Or the current All-Province under-five soft-shoe champion. On the outside, sweetness and grace personified. She’s been dancing since she could walk. But WWN DC know the truth about her meteoric rise to success. And it’s a path paved with malice. We couldn’t find one person willing to discuss the details of this tiny ringlet-headed terror, for fear of being ‘beaten like a bodhrán’.

Every so often, the Gardai will make claims that they’re winning the fight against organised reels. The public are presented with grandstanding displays of victory against Dance bosses. A dawn raid that seized Uilleann pipes with a street value of millions. A high-profile cailín arrested outside her home. A corrupt judge here. A squeeze-boxer there. But it all pales in the overall scheme of things. The Gardai know they’re only a band-aid over the gushing wounds on the heels of Irish dancing. They arrest a rinceoir today, he’s back on the streets tomorrow.

So consider all of this next time you and your friends do a little Irish dancing at the weekend. You may think it’s ‘no big deal’. After all, why not? Out for a few pints, what harm would it be to stop off at an Irish bar and watch a hard shoe step-dance or two. Everyone’s at it. But remember that if you do, you’re directly financing the misery of hundreds of families that are under the steel-toed tap shoe of Big Céilí. And their lives will not improve unless we all decide to one-two-three-four-five-six-seven and back two-three, back two-three.