“Clogging” is an obsolete term, probably derived from the French word “cloc”, which means shoe. However, the basic design of a carpet is the same and it is not restricted to the use of shoes or anything else to make a sound. A simple layer of padding between the carpet and the floor will do the trick. Today, however, clogging has become an art form where people create sounds, sometimes using equipment like sound generators and microphones, while decorating rooms with strategically placed and decorated objects.
It has been called the “new rage” of housekeeping. This can be traced back to the 1820s, when it became known as “bluegrass” and its first recorded composition was a duet between two Irish harpists. The word “clogging” came about some thirty years later. At that time, however, there were already many forms of “musical wall painting”, which had been in existence for decades. These early varieties were inspired by Irish culture and Irish music and were called “dancing wall paintings”. They bore the names of famous artists such as Henry Cowley, Thomas Joyce, and Joseph Sheridan, and featured traditional designs, including the tricolors of Irish flags, harpist music, and even the traditional Irish national flower, the iris.
Clogging evolved over time, taking the shape of various cultural trends. For example, American popular culture gave birth to a number of unique styles of clogging, influenced by blues music and other American beats, such as rockabilly. In contrast, Irish traditionalists favored the iris-based step music, and many modern dancers blended Irish steps with modern steps to produce hybrid works.
Today’s contemporary style of Irish clogging draws from the traditional style of step dancing, which has been around for several hundreds of years. Many people think that this type of dancing began in Ireland, but this is not true. The true birth place of this unique art form can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where folk performers would use rods covered with braids, grasses, and herbs to form tracks on the floor. These performers then would use these braids, or “bunds”, to accompany their dance routines, which often included elements of drama and movement.
A similar form of dance, called “shelf music”, evolved in the United States during the late 19th century. This type of “folk dance” featured a series of figures on the floor, all of which would perform a series of foot gestures, such as hopping, walking forward and backward, and even walking diagonally. Another version of this type of dance, called “Dublin belly dancing”, incorporated a wooden barrel that was divided into three sections. Two figures would walk the length of this barrel, while the other participant performed a series of figure eights, or twirls, on the inside bar.
Many people think of Irish clogging as being influenced by Irish food, since many of the foot taps used in this style were originally made from pieces of clay found in Ireland. However, this is not strictly true. In fact, authentic Irish music, particularly “traditional music” like “Amenagh Waltz”, was very popular in America during the early 1900’s. Many progressive music bands were also starting to use Irish music in their concerts at this time.
Regardless of where you came across this folk dance, you have to admit that it looks really fun. The key to Irish clogging is in the footwork. It looks like you are gliding along on your heels, and because of this your opponent cannot easily see where you are going. Another thing to note is that the footwork is not smooth. Many traditionalists claim that buck dancing was in fact influenced by clogging. However, this is untrue, simply because buck dancing utilizes a much smoother style of footwork.
If you are looking to learn how to do a little clogging of your own, there are many places to go. You can find courses in North Carolina. There are even websites that will show you the proper steps for performing the Irish step in an easy way that won’t hurt your feet or put a strain on them. All you need is the desire, determination, and a little bit of practice. When you learn how to do clogging, you will be able to take part in this traditional dance and have fun at the same time.