We’re back from the Royal Palm Dancesport “Winter Frolic” competition as of yesterday evening. It was a great return to the world of competitive dance after an absence that was much too long! From the beginning we decided that we just wanted to have fun and get back into competition without putting too much pressure about ourselves about results. We totally succeeded at that goal and we got some good placements to boot.
Days in the ballroom are fast-paced and exciting but long: the American Rhythm heats started at 9:30 in the morning and the last of the American Smooth heats didn’t end till 6:30 p.m., with the International events in the middle. We danced in bronze and silver level in Smooth and Rhythm in both the Senior 1 and Senior 2 age categories, plus in a “Challenge” event in both Smooth and Rhythm that was open to all ages and levels. The Challenge events were the only ones where we weren’t competitive, but that was not too surprising since we were dancing syllabus material alongside open-level dancers. I think we still did well being out on a crowded floor; the Challenge quarterfinals had 10-12 couples on the floor at the same time. Daniel did great with the floorcraft.
We ended up with 2 third places, 3 second places, and 3 first places, including–to our surprise–a $50 scholarship heat! We also met some nice new people and got reacquainted with some competitors we had met before. It was a fantastic experience and we are so happy and proud to be back in competition at last. The walk out on to the floor for the first heat always whets the appetite for more. Now we’re just asking ourselves: when can we do it again?
We are so excited to be getting back into competition after (*coughmumble*) years of not competing. It’s almost time to resurrect EPCTDL (Exhaustive Pre-Competition To-Do List) and its little buddy, EPCPL (Exhaustive Pre-Competition Packing List).
We are often asked about shoes for dancing. It’s kind of a big subject, and everyone has their own preferences. But for those interested in being appropriately shod for dance occasions, here are some Shoe Basics:
Dancing in street shoes: You can do perfectly well attending lessons and dances in street shoes for a good long time; don’t feel pressured to buy dance shoes right away. For best results:
Wear a shoe with a hard (not rubber) sole; your shoe should stay securely on the foot. The dance floor is a “No Flip-Flops” zone!
Ladies, avoid backless shoes since we spend a lot of time backing up.
Gentlemen, the more slim and trim your shoes, the easier you will find it to dance with your lady–no fear of accidentally bumping her with your shoe.
Most people who get interested in ballroom dancing end up buying some ballroom shoes. They are lighter, more flexible, and more comfortable to dance in than regular dress shoes. They have a suede sole that gives you just the right amount of grip on the dance floor. The suede means that you can’t wear them on the street, but it’s okay at dance events to come in wearing street shoes and then change to dance shoes.
Dancing in ballroom shoes:
Brands: The best “entry level” brands that I’m aware of are Go Go Dance Shoes and Very Fine. Very Fine is a wholesaler and lots of stores and studios carry their shoes. It could be worthwhile to shop around a bit and compare prices. If you are ready to spend a little more, take a look at Supadance or International. I wear Supadance and have found that ordering directly from the company will get you the lowest price, even taking shipping and exchange rate into account.
Styles: Competitive dancers wear different shoes for different dances. Ladies wear open-toed shoes for Rhythm/Latin dances and closed toes for Smooth/Standard. It’s easier to waltz in a sandal than to cha-cha in a pump, so if in doubt, get open toes. (I have these.) Men wear regular heels for Smooth/Standard and a higher “Cuban” heel for Rhythm/Latin–no need for a Cuban heel unless you are competing. Get plain black leather instead of shiny patent leather. (Daniel wears something like this.)
Fit and heel height: Dance shoes will fit closer than street shoes–you want a snug enough fit that your foot doesn’t shift around inside the shoe. Ladies often wear their Latin sandals with their toes hanging a little bit over the front edge of the sole. If you absolutely can’t tolerate a high heel, don’t worry. Almost every maker has at least a couple of low-heel styles; Very Fine has several. (I wear these when teaching lessons.)
Where to buy: This is where things get a little more challenging here in Macon, GA!
Bobo’s Dance Supply (2352 Ingleside) sometimes carries some ballroom shoes and they always carry dance sneakers (which are GREAT if you need/want maximum comfort). They also do special orders.
Showtime Dance Shoes in Duluth only carries the more expensive brands (Supadance, International, Freed) but they have tons of inventory and they’re very nice. Once or twice a year they have a big clearance sale; get on their email list to receive notification and plan to carpool with your friends.
If you are comfortable with online shopping, Discount Dance Supply has an extensive ballroom selection and their prices are good.
How to put on your shoes: Ladies, you are likely to find that the straps and buckles on your shoes are different from what you’re used to. Never fear; I have made a video to help you sort it out:
On Saturday, September 13 I’ll be dancing a little tango exhibition with Stephen Coshatt at USA Dance Greater Macon Chapter #6059’s monthly dance. It is National Ballroom Dance Month so the chapter is presenting some exhibition dances instead of teaching a lesson. Carl Candiano and his partner Natalie Greene are dancing a rumba. Daniel and I were asked to dance but Daniel already had another commitment. I asked Stephen, who has been coming to our classes for a while now, to dance with me and he agreed! I am more excited for him than I am for myself. It’ll be his first time performing! I started choreographing our routine today and he has already learned most of it. On a quick turnaround like this we can’t do anything too elaborate, but simpler steps done well tend to look better anyway. Come see us dance next Saturday at Howard Community Club. Open dancing will start at 8:00 and the exhibitions will start at 8:30.
If you’ve ever wanted to tell your partner to pipe down and get on with the business of dancing, we’ve got the t-shirts for you. Order your shirt before September 3; Teespring requires a minimum order of 10 shirts (for each design) but if the minimum isn’t reached, you won’t be charged. What do you have to lose? Order one for yourself and one for your partner–or one for the partner you wish you had!
At every ballroom dance I’ve been to, the waltzes are the most popular. Everyone gets up to dance when a waltz is played. I’ve never known why, but this piece from NPR gives a nice explanation–and a bunch of good music links. And NPR.org is one of the few websites where it’s safe to read the comments without despairing for the future of humanity. You might even learn something from the comments that will help your dancing!
As an 18th-century specialist/ballroom dancer I love knowing that the waltz originated in the 18C and that it was considered scandalous because of the close body contact. Good fact to share with teenagers or anyone who can’t shake the mindset that ballroom dancing is stodgy and old-fashioned.
Woo! I am still in a daze after last night’s amazing event. We set a new fundraising record of $248,013 of which Dean raised over $70,000! His total made us the People’s Choice award winners! I am so proud of all his hard work both on and off the dance floor. He and his wife Ashley (Daniel’s partner in 2012 when they won People’s Choice) are a power couple in the best possible way: boundless positive energy, totally down to earth, always ready to “git ‘er dun.” So that’s just what we did! After the jump, a full rundown of the evening’s adventures + some pics! Read more