"This is my first competition. What do I need to know?"

This is a broad question! Your teachers have done a most excellent job of getting your dancing ready or else you wouldn’t be going in the first place! As a competitor of many years, I learned by trial and error. It’s hard to plan when you don’t know what to plan for, so I’d like to pass along a few words of advice and a small check list.

WOMEN: As a newcomer, you do not NEED to have a $3000 dress to dance in. You may want one, but don’t need one. Putting together a nice ensemble consisting of one long skirt and one short skirt with one bodysuit, some fishnet stockings (Danskin or Capezio – suntan)your dance shoes and some nice jewelry will get you through your first event without too much stress and strain. Body suits can be ordered online from either dance company previously mentioned. Some have even begun to produce skirts for ballroom. Obviously, many of the vendors who frequent the competitions have items designed for this. (I wouldn’t recommend waiting until you get to the comp to purchase these items, however!) Whatever you decide on, I would recommend you take it into the studio and do a dress rehearsal with your instructor lest any unforeseen wardrobe malfunctions occur! (Don’t worry,your instructor has probably seen it all! Better him than a ballroom full of people!) If your dress is flesh exposing and you are fair, you may want to consider a bronzing lotion. The bright lights on the floor wash you out! If you haven’t a clue how to do your make up and/or hair, get in touch with the organizer and see who is attending to help in this area. Do not wait until you are at the comp to make an appointment! Call as soon as you know you are going! If you wish to keep you hairdo over night, bring a satin pillow case or a silk scarf to wrap around your head. This keeps your “do” intact while you sleep. Carry a bag to the ballroom with a small towel to blot your face and body in between rounds, a bottle of water, something to snack on (power bar, fruit, etc.),and any thing for touch ups (makeup, hairspray, shoe brush) or little emergencies (band aids, safety pins, Motrin, tissues, nail glue, eyelash glue, shoe glue!) The ballrooms are cold, so a jacket, warm wrap or robe is good to help keep you and your muscles warm. Also a comfortable pair of slippers is a good idea in between rounds to let your feet relax instead of being in your heels all day!

GENTLEMEN: As a newcomer, you do not need to spend a fortune on a pair of dance pants and shirt. Again, wanting and needing are very different! Decide this is what you want to do and then invest the money! A nice pair of flat front trousers and nice dress shirt will do. I will recommend you wear a pair of black lycra biking shorts under the pants just in case you experience a wardrobe malfunction and happen to be wearing your favorite pair of shocking blue Pooh Bear silk boxers! Again, take your ensemble to the studio and have a dress rehearsal with your teacher. If there are adjustments that need to be made, you can make them before you go. Get a haircut! Gel and hairspray are your new friends if you haven’t already met! I know this sounds funny, but get a manicure! No, I didn’t say polish, just get your hands/nails looking nice (no grease or dirt, etc.). Separate the eyebrows (if necessary) and remove any hair from the nostrils and ears. Carry a bag to the ballroom with necessities very similar to those of the ladies. If you are wearing a pair of patent leather shoes, a tube of Vaseline is a must! Put it on the outside of the shoes where they will rub together as you pass your feet. This prevents them from sticking to each other and causing you to trip or fall. I would also recommend you take and extra pair of shoe laces. You never know!

A new year presents many wonderful new opportunities. May your first competition be a truly enjoyable and rewarding experience!