If you’re starting out at ballroom dance classes, it can be a little confusing deciding what to wear. Other dances might seem easier – leotards for ballet, sweat pants for street dance, but surely the big flamboyant dresses we see on Strictly Come Dancing aren’t quite right for classes? Generally you can ask your teacher what’s best for their class depending on what dance you will be learning. Maybe pop down to the class before you start to see what others are wearing.
Often comfortable, light clothing which doesn’t restrict you is best. Women may prefer to wear a skirt, not only to help you get into the feeling of swishing round the dance floor, but also helps give you greater movement. There’s a great choice of practice wear out there, from skirts, to dresses, to wide leg pants which offer the feeling of a skirt! If you’re not quite sure you want to commit to the classes yet, you can wear jazz pants which are still light and stretchy, but you’ll soon feel like you want to be spinning round the room in a skirt or dress.
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Usually just below the knee is best; floor length will hide your feet and prevent your teacher from being able to see your footwork. Make sure the skirt is float too. Too tight and you won’t be able to move properly and your partner won’t be able to dance with you right. Keep your top simple, make sure it fits well, and has straps which won’t be falling down. You need as little distraction as possible so you can focus on learning the dance.
Men usually wear dress or practice trousers. Jeans aren’t recommended as they are heavy and restrictive. Paired with a simple tee or shirt is fine.
Your choice of footwear is important. Most teachers will prefer you wear a form of dance shoe. Sports sneakers are not advised, as they often have rubber soles and there’s absolutely no way you can achieve your turns and spins with so much traction on the floor. There are some great specialist dance sneakers which have a spin spot on the soles if you prefer the sneaker type shoe. Leather, or suede soles are always preferable with teachers, as they allow the least friction on the floor. Pick a heel height you are comfortable with. Most people opt for a lower heel to start with: 1-2”.
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Over time, the more comfortable and balanced you become you can move into a higher heel. Ballroom dancers usually wear a closed to shoe, where Latin dancers are often wearing a more strappy type of shoe. Both styles have a full heel and back, with an ankle strap to keep the shoe stable on your foot. Back straps can slip down or cause blisters, so it’[s best to avoid any unnecessary discomfort. Most Latin and ballroom shoes have padded insoles for extra comfort. Make sure you look after them. Don’t wear them outdoors and keep them in a separate shoe bag to prevent them from getting damaged.
Other tips include having your hair tied back can help keep it out of yours, and your partner’s face. Heel covers are available to help prevent your heels from wearing down. Still remember to warm up and down and stretch! It may not seem like your average type of exercise but it is a great work out for the whole body.