No One Told Me Riverdance Would Be This Tense

When I decided to go see Riverdance in Dublin on something of a whim, I thought I could expect a show full of dazzling costumes, souring music, and killer dance moves. What I didn’t expect was the opportunity to witness a wholly different sort of drama in the audience itself. After the curtain had closed and both shows concluded, I was left with only one thought—thank God I had pregamed.

For those that don’t know, Riverdance is the world’s best Irish dance troupe – full stop. While Irish dance is admittedly a pretty niche art form, it’s still a big deal to get to see the world’s best performers at something, especially in the city they’re most associated with. The people sitting around me seemed pretty pumped, as was I. Ah, our naïveté! How could we have known that this would be no peaceful viewing experience?

Enter the major players in this secondary show: a very large group of teenagers (probably high schoolers on a school trip to Dublin). The lights go down. The two middle-aged ladies next to me—soon to become my allies—lean forward in anticipation. And the children don’t stop talking. Nor do they turn off their cell phones. This, as they say, did not fly.

It started with very aggressive shushing from the group of us that were seated next to the school group. We may have come from different backgrounds, countries, and creeds, but in that moment we were united as one against a common ally. I admit I got a little swept into the crowd mentality and was filled with anger. I had paid for this ticket—true, it was the cheapest one, but I was entitled to watch a performance without listening to like 70 kids laughing through the whole thing.

The shushing and general head-shaking continued all throughout the first act. I frequently shared meaningful glances with the two ladies sitting next to me, and I felt as though I had been adopted into their friendship. After this trial, we were sisters.

The first act concluded—the first act of the actual show, that is. The rising action of the secondary show was about to occur. Throughout the whole first act, a nubile young usher had stood helplessly by the door most near the school group. As I returned from the bathroom, I saw that a man was approaching him. You know this man—he wears dad sunglasses on top of his head at all times, his collar is freshly pressed, and his wafer-thin masculinity will crumble if you ever insult his grilling. This is not a man to be trifled with. He loudly complained to the usher and the usher promised to say something, if he could ever find the group’s leader.

Clearly seeing that the usher was going to be as ineffective as his sunglasses are indoors (yet nevertheless, he persisted), the man approached the seeming leader himself, a very large man who looked quite capable of discipline. Ah, looks can be deceiving. Despite both the sunglasses man and the usher telling him to keep his f****** kids in line, he didn’t really do anything. The ladies next to me were disappointed. But wait! Enter, the matriarch.

This is a woman with authority. Power, dignity, and the ability to strike the fear of God into the hearts of misbehaviors. I think I speak for everyone in my row when I say the schadenfreude was off the scales as we watched her rip them a new one.

And it worked! Almost. For the second act, the talking had subsided, but these kids—who couldn’t care less that they were watching a world-class show—were still on their phones. I could sense the lady next to me becoming more and more enraged, until finally, she lost it. Storming across the aisle, she yanked the phone from the worst offender’s hand and thrust it toward the large man. It. Was. Awesome.

And thus concludes the drama. What can we take away from all this? One, I was slightly concerned about my propensity for the type of entitlement that makes forty-year-old women demand to see the manager when the store doesn’t have a top in their size. Yes, the kids were being rude, but I don’t need to turn into a backstabbing soccer mom before my time. Geez.

Secondly, don’t force a bunch of kids to see a show they clearly have no interest in seeing! Like, what’s the point? As my father always said, you can bring a teenager to Riverdance but you can’t make them appreciate Ireland’s rich dance tradition.

But, more important than either of those lessons is one that I’m sure that young man has emblazoned on his heart forevermore—do not stand between a middle-aged woman and Riverdance. Ever.

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Mia Karr

Mia is packing up her set of all seven Harry Potter books and the collected James Joyce before heading off to the U.K., and then getting realistic and replacing them with a flashlight and extra underwear. She plans to find out exactly how much beer is in a pint while gallivanting around Ireland and aspires to show her parents that she is putting her (forthcoming) English degree to use by communing with Shakespeare’s homeland. When she’s not making plans to get the royal family to adopt her, she enjoys drinking coffee and talking about the severity of her coffee addiction.