Dancing is firmly embedded in the fabric of our social culture. We dance at weddings, fund raisers, fairs, clubs, halls, and in the privacy of our homes. We dirty dance, social dance, Tango, Salsa, Waltz, or just do the happy dance! However, if you are more than the “casual” dancer, it is important to have the proper equipment to keep those hips swinging and toes tapping!
Dancing is a great way to relieve stress, stay fit, or shake off a bad mood. Most people assume that dance “equipment” is limited to formal classes. However, even if you are not dancing five hours a day in hopes of becoming a professional ballerina or ballroom medal winner, the right equipment will optimize your enjoyment by keeping you comfortable and safe.
The style of clothing you wear will depend upon the type of dance and the venue. In choosing clothing, you should give consideration to your own comfort and safety as well as that of your partner. Lightweight cotton, such as Egyptian cotton or cotton lawn, is one of the coolest fabrics. This makes a good choice for shirts and tops. T-shirts are usually heavyweight cotton and will get extremely hot after a few minutes of dancing. They also hold the moisture close to your body leading to a hot, sticky uncomfortable mess.
An alternative to the t-shirt if you want to go casual is workout wear that wicks moisture away from the body. There are even fabrics that are odor-free which you and your partner are sure to appreciate after a few hours of dancing. Check out a running specialty store or sporting goods web site. Silk is not a good choice for dancing as it does not breathe. Rayon and polyester are also bad choices as they will be stiff and hot.
In general, leather or suede soled shoes are best for dancing. They allow you to pivot and move freely without sticking to the floor, which could lead to injury of ankles or knees. Rubber soled shoes are not advisable for dancing. The rubber will grip the floor, which is great for basketball but not good for the Cha-Cha. Again, by limiting your range of motion you can damage your knees or ankles. One option to rubber soled sneakers is dance sneakers.
Women should wear closed heels and shoes that strap across the instep. Slingbacks or slip-ons are very hazardous for dance and should be strictly avoided. There is often a variety of heel heights and styles for men and women. Choose a height that is comfortable for you and that won’t present the risk of an ankle twist. Some women’s ballroom shoes have full heels and others have pointy heels; in general, the fuller heel will provide more comfort and stability. Ballroom shoes for both sexes have a heel that is undercut. This style of heel is designed for Latin style ballroom dancing. You should consider the regular heel for other ballroom styles like the Waltz and Foxtrot.
Many dancers recommend insoles for additional comfort. If you choose insoles, stay away from the gel type, and choose the thinner “running” style of insole. Insoles can add a ½ size to your shoe size so be sure to take them with you when shopping for your dance shoes. In lieu of insoles, some dancers choose to wear socks. Women can wear footies over their stockings. Again, take these with you when shopping for dancing shoes.
The final piece of equipment is the most important – the dance floor! Not all dance floors are created equal and some can be downright dangerous. Floors can be too slippery, or sticky and rough. Leather soled shoes on a too slippery floor can be extremely hazardous to your health and ego! Here are a few tips if you find yourself dancing on a bad floor.
To combat a too slippery floor:
1) Wipe the shoes with wet toilet paper or paper towel and then wipe them dry. This will make your soles less slippery.
2) Take smaller steps and be careful on turns.
3) Scuff the bottom of shoes by rubbing your soles on concrete. This takes the slip out of your shoe.
4) Purchase suede half slip on shoes. These will offer a bit more traction and prevent you from falling. These can be handy if you dance in many different venues.
If you find yourself on a rough, sticky floor, the trick is to make your shoes slip a bit more to compensate for the floor. Here are a few quick tricks:
1) Put double sided tape on the bottom of your shoes. Stick with one side but leave the seal on the side facing the floor.
2) Place duct tape or clear packing tape on your soles. The sticky side should face the shoe not the floor.
3) Stick name tags to the bottom of your shoe, sticky side on the sole.
4) Try not to do a lot of twisting moves as you can injure your knees.
5) Pick your feet up a little more than usual.
6) If you use dancing powder, be sparing, because it will make a floor very slippery.
Obviously dancing on a bad floor is not ideal, but if you have no control over the floor, exercise caution and use the tips above. Remember, dress for comfort, and buy the right shoes for your type of dance and when possible use a high quality floor and you will dance for many years to come!
Master Portable Floors are rated highest quality by the American Swing Dancing Association and Ball Room Dancers. The floors have a unique flexing action that provides just the right amount of spring for injury free dancing. To learn more about Master Portable Floors, visit www.masterportablefloors.com [http://www.masterportablefloors.com].