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The Disappointing Reality of Saint Patrick’s Day in LA for an Ex-Irish Dancer

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Since the age of five I have spent all of my Saint Patricks in bars.

I Irish danced from kindergarten until I graduated high school, and while I don’t necessarily miss all aspects of dance, there are some things that tug at my heartstrings. For example, I always planned on going hard when celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day for the rest of my life, perhaps whip out a quick step at whatever party or celebration I was at, to the surprise of the rest of the guests. But when I came to UCLA, Ireland seemed to disappear from the map. Whenever someone asked me what sport I played in high school and I said I did Irish dance, they treated me like the rarest form of mammal that has ever roamed the earth. Back on the East Coast, Irish dance is definitely a niche but there are dozens of Irish dance schools in my county. Philly has a large Irish culture and ethnic enclave, so I found myself performing in every month of the year, at every occasion you could imagine (baptism, funeral, wedding, your average Friday night bar crawl). 

Even though Irish culture is lacking here, I still thought that Saint Patrick’s Day would be the one Irish thing that 30,000 primarily non-Irish students could come together for, bearing the orange, green and white flag that I know so well. I mean, college kids love any excuse to party. But when I stepped outside for class on March 17th, I was the only person in sight wearing green. No frats were throwing, no celebrations were being held. There were no decorations across the city of LA, the nearest location playing Rattlin Bog was SLO. I was left to my own devices to make the most out of this holiday. 

Fortunately, one thing I have learned from being on my own at UCLA, 3,000 miles from all of my friends and family, is that if you want something to happen you have to make it happen. No one was celebrating, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t give them somewhere to celebrate. So, I switched my LED lights in my Hedrick Hall dorm to green, bought lime Jello from Target and fired up my speaker. I looked up a Spotify “Irish EDM” playlist and enlisted all of my friends to play games and celebrate. My roommate and I gave ourselves green smokey eyes and wore my green butterfly clips in our hair. And at the end of it all, we moseyed over to Westwood to celebrate with some people that probably didn’t even know it was Saint Patrick’s Day.

It was a Saint Patrick’s Day unlike any I had experienced before, but it was a Saint Patrick’s Day nonetheless. So many things change in college that it is important to remember you can keep your traditions going, even if they look slightly different than they did at home. And yes, I had the B Cafe Shamrock Shake special, and yes, I was very disappointed. 

Katy is a first year communications major at UCLA originally from Pennsylvania! She enjoys baking, Taylor Swift, and lifting :)