One of the great things about modern jive is that it’s easily accessible. There’s no modern jive dress code, no requirement to wear a specific style of outfit. You can just turn up in what you fancy. Jeans are popular, with leggings now popular for girls, dresses for those who like to dress up a bit more, and t-shirts or shirts for men.
I tend to stick with my staple, black trousers – linen for summer, or jeans in colder months. And a dark top, or patterned one over a vest top underneath. Whatever’s comfortable for dancing in and something that doesn’t show the sweat.
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Over the last couple of years, there are noticeable styles of clothing that have crept in. With that, there are some watch outs to look out for that some people either don’t check or don’t care about.
Dance ‘style’ trends and watch outs
Leggings – great for wearing under dresses or skirts which flare out when you spin, or with straighter skirts to give a bit of security should your skirt rise up accidentally (I don’t know how some people’s don’t). But more recently the trend for colourful leggings means dancers are wearing them as as a comfortable and colourful ‘sportswear’ style. If you’re wearing leggings* without covering your bottom with a top or skirt, do check they’re not too small or see through, in case everyone can see your knickers through them.
Prom dresses – look great on the dance floor, but they’re full skirted, so watch that your partner can actually get close without getting stiff net stuck in them.
Skirts that spin out and up – do a twirl before you leave home and wear either leggings or shorts underneath unless you want everything on show. Because if you don’t, it’s like a car crash and people not dancing will want to look away but can’t.
White underwear – some venues have uv lights. If you don’t want to have your underwear seen, wear flesh coloured or dark colours under dark clothes.
Overly long trousers – swirly trousers are great, and I’m one of those who like to wear their trousers long. But do the dance check in them at home with your dance shoes on. Are the lower legs so wide they’re going to be a trip hazard, or are you going to stand on them.
Jewellery and accessories – big rings can scratch other people’s hands, scarves aren’t sensible unless they’re being used for a prop, big belt buckles can get caught, dangly earrings can get caught in hair or ripped out. Bi
Hats – I have mixed views on hats, and dancing with people wearing them. My experience hasn’t been great – they’re an inconvenience and get in the way, plus so far I’ve not had great dances with people wearing hats. I’d rather hats weren’t on the dance floor, but some people like them. Just make sure your arms clear the hat (although some leaders don’t keep their arms out of the way when leading me in spins, so I don’t think that’s a hat thing.
Cufflinks and big buttons – On the above theme (and similar to jewellery watch outs), hair can easily get caught in buttons and cufflinks.
Long hair – when spinning long hair can whip round, so a plait probably isn’t the best if you’ve really long hair and like to spin lots or head flick.
No shoes – I don’t know why people would want to wear bare feet when dancing, or even socks. Personally I find my feet hurt after spinning in socks on my kitchen floor, and dance shoes are made to support the feet correctly. Then of course there’s the danger of being stood on without anything to protect the feet. I have danced with a couple of people with bare feet, and I don’t know how they keep their feet out of the way, but it’s fine. I’d just think twice about whether you want to risk it. As for socks – spotted last week, a girl with a beautiful dress and then pink frilly ankle socks and another wearing legging with odd socks over the top. Strange style decisions!
Shoes without fastenings to hold them on – generally worn by women, quite often high heels, occasionally flip flops are seen. Both heels and flip flops are easy to fall out of and hurt ankles. If you don’t want to buy dance shoes opt for something that holds the foot in securely enough, and has the right support in the shank for turning and dancing on.
Fancy dress – my own personal nemesis. I don’t do fancy dress myself unless it’s extremely subtle (a colour theme is just about manageable on occasion) but I really struggle to dance with people in full fancy dress. The worst – morph suit, and masks – so if you don’t want to dance with me, just wear those.
The main thing in modern jive is to be comfortable in what you dance in. It doesn’t have to be flashy, but it does need to be sensible for the style of dance you’re doing and you feel secure in it.
What kind of thing do you prefer to wear when dancing? Have you had any clothing issues when dancing?