The brilliant thing about social dancing is how accessible it is for most people. Apart from class costs (and potentially travel costs if you can’t share lifts, walk or cycle), there’s virtually no outlay when you’re starting out.
You don’t need special shoes
Just smooth soled shoes that stay on your feet are fine. So work shoes for men, comfortable shoes or boots with some kind of fastening for women. Alternatively worn out trainers or more fashion/casual trainers rather than cross trainers or running shoes. Some ladies turn up teetering in heels, flimsy sandals or ballet pumps. If that’s what you want to wear then just know that non dance shoes (heels) aren’t made to withstand the pressure that dance puts on them so you’re in danger of damaging the shank of the shoe. Ballet pumps might fall off, and flimsy sandals for a beginner – you might get trodden on if you’re new to dance and less aware of other people dancing around you.
You don’t need special clothing
Just clothing that you will feel cool and comfortable in. Bear in mind if you’re wearing a flippy skirt, check when you spin you’re not showing everything to the world. If you get hot, think about a change of top if you’re planning to dance without stopping.
Something to drink
If the venue doesn’t have a bar or free water.
Once you’ve decided to stick it out (because why wouldn’t you?) you might want to buy some dance shoes, although not everyone does.
I have to admit though, I don’t travel light unlike some friends I go dancing with on occasion. They’ll quite happily go to class wearing their dance sneakers, and just take their membership card and money in a pocket. I couldn’t do that, I lug a huge bag with me even to class!
What are my dance essentials?
What’s in my dance bag?
Friends always used to rely on me having the items they never carry, like tissues and safety pins. So I do tend to make sure I’ve got everything I might need for a night out dancing.
My bag isn’t a specific dance bag. It’s currently one from Accessorise after Primark stopped doing the handy size and style I used to have. Small holdalls, totes or rucksacks are good. And I like pockets to keep different things contained.
Dance shoes – I wear west coast swing style, 1.8 inch Cuban heel sandals. They’re comfy and I can wear them all night. I’ve got 4 different coloured pairs, and usually take 2 pairs dancing if I don’t know what the floor is like. I have one pair that have been ruined a bit by a bad floor so I take those for floors that are sticky, and then a pair for floors I know are good.
Suede brush – because it’s essential to brush suede soles after or before using to keep them as good as possible.
Fan – just a cheap handheld one. I bought a multipack from ebay because I always lose them (or others pick them up, I never know which).
Small towel – I tend to use a camping high absorbent one because they’re smaller to pack
Change of top – I’m not someone who looks fresh at the start of the night. So for freestyles and superhot class nights I will change my top.
Cold/freeze spray – because I sometimes get lower back ache while dancing. A sign of getting old and having a poor core!
Rock tape – for my knee. I’ve dislocated it in the past playing squash, and last year having had no other problems, found I was getting a few aches after dancing. So I tape my knee up beforehand to give a bit of peace of mind (and it seemed to solve the issue). I’m currently using a different cheaper brand and I’m not finding it as easy to use or as convincing in holding the knee in place.
Scissors – to cut said tape and other useful purposes.
Hair grips/bands – I’m in awe of people whose hair stays in place and never looks a mess while dancing
Make up – see point above! I rarely get round to reapplying during a night, but I like to think I have it just in case.
Safety pins – especially good for weekenders where they always seem to be needed, and for pinning straps
Usual bottom of the bag items
Bottle of water
Breath fresheners – gum, mints etc
Purse – including ceroc membership card and west coast swing discount card, and change for car park
Various freestyle leaflets I’ve picked up
Pen (notebook has been taken out as it was falling to pieces, but I used to write down the moves I’d learnt as a leader in the hope of remembering them)
Probably more junk than most people, but I know I’m prepared for aches, pains and being too hot.
What do you have in your dance bag? If you’re new to social dancing and have any questions, do drop me a message or let me know in the comments.