The Daily Shift’s Kevin Bolger gives the low down on what exactly the shift is for those of us who do not know. International student’s direct your eyes here for the most valuable education you will receive while on the Emerald Isle….
If you’re reading this and you are not Irish then I can tell you my friends, no this is not an article on moving objects or a change in a state of affairs. Nor is it about global warming. This is about a cultural slang word, NAY, a way of life in the good old Island of Ireland. The shift in fact refers to a sexual act otherwise referred to as French kissing or, God forbid, ‘making out’.
One thing that has struck me is that not only are foreigners oblivious to what the shift is (which is understandable considering our population) but how they (or you depending on who is reading) fail to grasp in its entirety what exactly the shift is. Because the shift is more than just a “snog”. The shift my good friends, is a way of life.
In this article I will attempt to shed some light on the elusive (well not after a couple of drinks) shift.
The origins of shift: Shifting first came about to the best of my recollection around ten years ago. However the term soon became unpopular due to its grotesque nature and the term ‘meeting’ became very popular in its stead, enjoying a fine stretch of nearly half a decade as the term of choice. However in recent years ‘shifting’ has come in to popularity once again. The reasons for this can only be hypothesized but I would wager it had something to do with the need to replace the term ‘meet’ which was becoming ever more confusing and also with the revolutionized popular form of the term by changing from ‘shifting’ to ‘getting the shift’ which was less vulgar than the former.
“Get the shift!” is a common phrase to be overheard on an average night out in nightclubs across the country. This can happen in many circumstances, but mainly it is uttered (very loudly at that) by the friends of someone who is engaging in a conversation with someone of the opposite sex (or not opposite for that matter, we’re not homophobes at the Daily Shift). It is intended to spur on/embarrass the two youngins’ who are fooling nobody with their small talk that just emanates “When are you going to shut up and shift me!”
Other popular uses of the phrase can be used in similar situations but to strangers who are showing above average public affection, or to the more sardonic user as a means of ironic humour, shouting “get the shift” to a pair of people for whom getting the shift may not be most appropriate (for example, an elderly couple going about their buisness, a man walking his dog etc. etc.)
“Did you get the shift last night?” If this is your first time in Ireland and somebody asks you this question after a night on the town it is a fast track to popularity to say yes. If you didn’t get the shift and feel like lying is not in your blood then maybe a nice “I’m not too sure, I was really drunk” might save you some face. After all, who are you to know if you can’t remember? Even if all you had was two or three yummy bacardi breezers. I won’t tell if you don’t.
“Will you shift my friend” – Ok so this one is a bit old school and generally only applies to teeny boppers but gives a better understanding to the sexual background of young Irish people. In your teen years in Ireland, teenage discos are a popular venture in which teenagers transition from the world of packed lunches and pokemon to the world of shifting. Rather than striking up a conversation with a nice looking girl/boy with some killer chat up lines like “Am I dead? Cause this must be heaven, angel” it is customary to approach somebody and enquire as to their availability to engage in a friendly 10-20 second shift (and maybe longer and an auld top if your lucky) with your friend (who at this point is standing awkwardly a few feet away trying to look their finest).
“Up for the shift” – This is a phrase used to describe a persons sexual availability. Being up for the shift is a character trait that may win/lose you a lot of friends in Ireland. But hey, the ones you lose are generally people who wanted more than the shift and people who are up for the shift are notoriously not on the market for relationships. This is not to say that if you like getting the shift you are completely obverse to a steady relationship but to say there are, as we all know, those nights where all you need is a good shift to try lift the spirit. The shift is good for you. The shift is free mental health treatment (provided it is executed with consent).
Up for the shift is also often used in pre-party tactics. By this I mean it is not uncommon for a group of people to gather together and discuss potential shifting partners and using each others combined intelligence to ascertain whether or not said person may or may not be “up for the shift”. These kind of conversations can have a significant baring on the who you may or may not target during a night out. So if you feel that person you have been flirting with for some time now has suddenly ceased all communiqué, it is probably because somebody told them you’re not up for the shift!
“How many girls/boys did you shift last night?” Yes I am sorry foreigners, in Ireland multiple shifts are not just acceptable but commonplace. For Americans, your typically “wild” keg party might not seem so wild after a night out in one of the countries finest establishments “Quinns” where not getting the shift off at least 400 people is seen as a failure.
“He/She was a terrible shift” – This one is pretty self explanatory. We’ve all been there. Too much tongue/not enough tongue. Dry mouth/wet mouth. Oh and this person seems to think my tongue is a chew toy! Thank you for that. Yes while none of us can claim to be supreme experts on the shift, some people really do just have a severe lack of talent.
“Did you shift her/him?” – Depending on the circumstances and tone of voice this can mean either one of two things. Either you somehow got promoted from the conference to the premier league (in the shifting world) all in one shot or you had so many drinks the local heifer (that’s a type of bovine (Americans, that means type of cow)) seemed to you like the most desirable creature you had ever set your eyes on. Hopefully for your sake it was the former.
And finally “Lads, you’ll NEVER guess who Joe shifted last night!” – Once again, this can be good or bad but given the inherent nature of the Irish this is probably bad. That is to say, if you shift a good looking girl/boy be guaranteed your friends will hear about it but will choose to ignore it. However, shift what we call “a haunty lookin’ beure” and be guaranteed the entire neighbourhood will know about it come the end of the day.
Sure we’re only having the craic.
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By Kevin Bolger