What You Should and Should NOT Wear

So you’ve signed up for your first ballroom dance class and can’t wait to get started. Having never danced before, you don’t know what to expect. You may have a ton of questions racing through your mind.

  • Will you be able to keep up?
  • Who will you dance with?
  • Will your teacher be nice?
  • Will you be any good at all?

Impressions matter so before anything else you need to consider what you’ll wear to your first class.

Dress for Success

Ballroom dancing can be challenging for the novice who has little training in the practice. You want to make sure you show up to your first class in appropriate attire so you not only perform your best, but make a good impression on the instructor and the other students as well.

You want to dress for comfort as well as appearance. You need clothes that won’t restrict movement but look presentable at the same time.

Every studio has a different dress code but most follow the general rule that students should show up in clothes that are “dressy casual”. Avoid jeans, holey t-shirts, sweats or shorts. In fact, revealing clothing of any kind is a big no-no. The last thing you want to do is to make your partners uncomfortable by wearing a tank top or ultra mini skirt.

For the Gals

Women will generally want to choose a flared skirt or dress. Nice, loose fitting slacks paired with a blouse are also acceptable.

Most importantly you need respectable clothing that you can move freely in. Steer clear of restrictive attire like A-line skirts. If you do choose a flared skirt for your first class, you can purchase some tight fitting dance shorts to go under so you feel more comfortable should your skirt ride up while dancing.

For the Guys

Men will also need comfortable clothing that they can dance easily in. Casual dress pants or kakis are always a good choice. If you want to make a nice impression the first day choose a button-down, collared shirt or golf shirt.

The Most Important Part

Everyone knows that shoes are by far the most important dress item for any dancer.

Since you are just starting ballroom dancing and not sure if you’ll stick with it, you may not want to purchase expensive ballroom shoes just yet. That’s totally ok.

If you choose something from your closet, opt for closed toes. It’s very likely as a novice that you will step on and get stepped on in the beginning. You’ll also need shoes with a secure back or strap. Backless shoes, like flip flops will likely come off and could lead to injury.

Avoid rubber soled shoes like tennis sneakers as well since they stick to the floor. Leather soles allow you to slide and move freely across the dance floor. Need to save your cash? Bring an old pair of shoes to a cobbler and have him replace the sole with leather. Just keep in mind you need to avoid wearing these “new dance shoes” outside so they stay dry and clean.

Many women may be tempted to wear high heels if they are accustomed to these kind of shoes. Don’t. Dancing Ballroom is different than walking around town. You need to find your dancing legs and balance first before attempting high heels. Opt for low to medium heels in the beginning. Men should look for 1/2 inch heel.

If you have the money and plan to stick with Ballroom long-term, you can purchase a pair of shoes at a dance shop. Choose a beginner shoe that will work for all different styles of Ballroom, including Salsa. A closed-toe pump with a 2-2.5 inch flared heel and ankle strap is usually a good choice.

A Note About Hygiene

You will be dancing with one or more partners so you need to think about hygiene as well. Bringing an extra towel and shirt in case you sweat a lot is advisable. Avoid strong cologne and perfume and keep breath mints handy.

If in Doubt, Call

For dance venues and social events, it’s always a good idea to call in advance to find out the dress code. If the function happens to be formal, than you’ll want to show up in the proper attire.

Ballroom is a great sport. It’s fun, social and will keep you fit. Follow these above rules and you’ll begin your class on the right foot. And most importantly, have fun!




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