Trad Session in NYC!
Ever since my return from Ireland a few month's ago, I have been desperately searching for Irish dance classes in New York City. You would think they would be easier to find, as New York is one of the dance capitals of the world (and you can find almost as many Irish pubs here as Boston!). However, finding dance classes for adults in soft and hard shoe come too few and far between. After asking around and narrowing through Google searches, I found Niall O'Leary, an All-Ireland and World Champion dancer from Dublin. His classes for adults on Tuesday evenings currently conflict with my own teaching schedule, however on his last email to me, there was a mention of a weekly traditional Irish music and dance session on Thursday evenings. There was still hope! An Irish trad session in New York City, just what I was looking for to satisfy my Irish dance withdrawal. If I wasn't going to get my dance lessons in yet, at least I would be able to watch what drew me in the first time when I was learning back in Dublin.
I met up with a student of mine, Judith Timm (also blogger of PeacefulPrincess.com), at Paddy Reilly's Music Bar, a replica of the architecturally beautiful Irish pubs found in the center of Dublin. Detailed paneling and classic Guinness ads of toucans and drunken bobbies made me feel back on a different island (a much greener one). Stephen, our bartender, struck up conversation, and his Irish accent made me smile; his typical Irish sense of humor made me feel even more welcome and further away from New York City. Situated in the city's Murray Hill neighborhood, this Irish pub has been hosting live music sessions for over 25 years; and no wonder this spot feels incredibly genuine, it was opened by one of Ireland's most famous balladeers, Paddy Reilly himself!
Judith grew up dancing, and Irish music, trad sessions and dance are huge in her family. A perfect companion for the evening, she shared stories of her experiences taking Irish classes, her 14-year-old nephew Jake's accomplishments as champion fiddle player and jig dancer, and the history of her life-path. Judith and I waited patiently for the moment when the band would take a five minute break to fill up their empty glasses of Guinness, just so we could say hello to the performers.
Niall was extremely jovial and energetic. His quick-talking, thick Irish brogue tripped me up only a few times, and his constant smile made wish even more that my Tuesday evenings were free. After a short chat, the musicians migrated away from the bar, began to pick up their instruments, and one by one, they started a tune and joined in. It was getting late (for a school night, that is.) The streets of the city were eerily empty for a Thursday, and the sudden drop in temperature might have contributed to the quiet evening. But Judith and I remained at the bar, waiting for the moment when Niall would leave his instrument behind to jump on the wooden-boxed platform to dance with the musicians as his backdrop. From the keyboard or the accordion to the box, he quickly transformed from somber musician to lively dancer.
My goal is to start a lesson soon, hopefully within the next few months. Let's hope that all my hard work in Ireland is not all lost - thank you, Niall and the other musicians, for a long-overdue evening of trad! THE BARE FEET™ FIVE - What are "The Bare Feet™ Five"? From now on, at the end of every post, I will share five things that you'll definitely want to know or remember (my recommendations, favorites, what to avoid, etc.). Be sure to check this out for all future posts - thanks!
1. When and where? The Irish Music & Dance Trad Session happens every Thursday, 10:30pm-LATE at Paddy Reilly's Music Bar (519 2nd Ave @ 29th Street, New York, NY 10016) 2. What to drink? Paddy Reilly's claims to be the first and ONLY all-draught Guinness bar in the world, so do yourself a favor and don't insult your bartender...order a Guinness! 3. What to bring? If you feel like dancing or playing, bring your Irish dance shoes and your bodhran. That's what true sessions are all about, listening, learning and playing! 4. I don't know how to Irish dance! Don't worry, Niall has all levels of classes available in NYC, check them out at NiallOLeary.com 5. More Music? Love the music and want to hear more? I recommend some true Irish Uilleann Pipes. For a more balladeer feel with a beautiful, soaring voice, my favorite is Paul Brady's The Missing Liberty Tapes album.