Boys occupying themselves at a competition

Zane Pall and Ciaran Traynor playing a video game at the North American Nationals in Ottawa- 2007

It seems that no matter what, "boys will be boys" is the norm- even in the competitive world of Irish dance.

Even if the boys are hardcore competitors on the Irish dance stage, they come off and find some way of connecting whether it's in goofing off, playing video games, or even impromptu soccer games in the halls.

At the recent Southern Region Oireachtas in sunny Orlando, Florida this was very much the case.

The boys in the U13 competition were done with their hardshoe round. They had all competed to their best in their hornpipe dances. Now, they had a bit of down-time waiting until their soft-shoe round.

While we watched the U12 girls on stage, I looked over with the moms sitting next to me and had to smile. My son's Gatorade bottle had become a ball, and nine of the boys including one guy from the U12 boys were playing a game of keep-away.

They were quiet. After all, they were still in the same ballroom that competition was still happening in, but they were full-force smiling and good-naturedly razzing each other as the Gatorade "ball" sailed to yet another boy.

Playing Gatorade "ball" at the Oireachtas

They had taken off vests, ties, and even their dress shirts. They were sliding around in their socks and having a great time with each other. Several of the boys had never met before that day in that ballroom, but it didn't matter. After awhile, they were all either a part of the game or at least watching the camaraderie from the fringes- included in the group by default of proximity to the silliness.

I've seen boys who've never met before a feis sharing a smart-phone or video game together in down-time. I've seen little guys doing treasure hunts for errant crystals on the floor that have fallen off of solo dresses. I've seen groups of boys playing soccer in the halls. At a recent feis, I saw a bunch of boys hanging around the grand piano in the hotel lobby playing popular music and attracting a group of impressed Irish dance girls.

Along with the pick-up game of "Gatorade ball" keep-away, I watched this talented group of thirteen year old boys have a "who can do a front-click/slice the highest" contest as well as a "who can double click, triple click, and even quadruple click" contest.

It was all good-natured, and the boys were supportive of each other. I love seeing what the guys do in their in-between time at feisanna. Yes, they make time to eat, drink, recharge, practice, and stretch, but there always seems to be a bit of time that's left over that's just the right amount of time to play and goof off with the other guys.