A professional salsa dancer does not just rely on skills and abilities to be an expert—he or she should also be meticulous when it comes to his or her hair, dancing clothes, and shoes. Using the wrong hairstyle, dress, pants, or shoes can overshadow difficultly practiced moves and can even be dangerous during the risky turns and steps. But this doesn’t mean that aesthetics is sacrificed for safety. In salsa dancing, grace and beauty are always as important as functionality.
Without further ado, here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing or buying salsa clothing and shoes:
- Confirm what type of salsa dancing it is to be done.
A Salsera or Salsero can engage into various types of salsa dancing: it could be in a class, lesson, club or dance party studio. There are times that an event facilitator or manager would require certain dress codes for the event, especially for beginner classes and salsa clubs. Check them out and see if there is a dress code. If there is one, you would be lucky. Otherwise, read the other tips below. I used to own a carpet cleaning company in Atlanta before I started working as a salsa teacher, cleaning carpets was a tough job, but all worth it at the end.
- Be careful with the hairstyle.
Long hair could really look great on a salsa dancer, especially women with beautiful locks, but it is recommended to get the hair out of the way. Dancers can make it slick back but it is better to tie the hair back. There are three main reasons why:
a) sweat from all the vigorous dancing can make the hair stick to the partner or even another dancer’s face;
b) the flowing hair can get the dancers, instructors, or audience distracted from the dance itself; and
c) the hair can get caught up on the dancers’ buttons, in case there are in their clothing.
- Minimize and secure accessories.
This does not mean that accessories should be completely unused. Accessories do enhance the aesthetical value of the salsa dancing, but make sure that these would not hinder the performance. The following things should be taken in consideration with regard to accessories:
a) Nails: trimmed near the tip; no fake nails
b) Earrings: should be used with dependable earring backs
c) Watches, Rings, Bracelets, Bangles: completely taken off
d) Hair Accessories: minimized and attached firmly
e) Eyeglasses: could be exchanged with contact lenses; if not, should be with chain
- Keep the clothes tight and secure.
This tip would be subjective and relative depending on the Salsero or Salsera’s level and preferences. Listed at the bottom are some reminders on the clothes:
a) Shirts: okay as long as it does not get too sweaty; bring an extra
b) Jackets and Sweaters: keep them closed for security
c) Open backs: can be disturbing when partner touches sweaty back
d) Strapless: assure that it won’t end in wardrobe malfunction
e) Bat Wings: can hinder partner’s hand movement to shoulder blade
f) Skirts and Dresses: should not have awkwardly short length
g) Cuffs (pants): avoid entirely, keep pants slick and tight but still comfortable
h) Shorts: can be used by women during warm seasons, rare for men
- Pick the right pair of shoes.
For both men and women, the type of shoes would depend on the season, venue, and sport. The usual sneakers, slip-ons, and flip flops should be avoided in salsa dancing. Rubber-soled shoes are entirely avoided because it can make turning more difficult because of the increased friction. Instead, opt for shoes with leather soles or suede at the bottom. In addition, women should wear low and comfortable heels. Stilettos can harm the dancers in the venue.
- Observe appropriate hygiene.
Salsa dancing involves a lot of body contact, especially with hands, shoulders, hips, and thighs. Make sure to take a bath, put some deodorant on, and do some tooth brushing. It would also help to chew minty gum or candy to make sure that there will be no stinky breaths. Applying lotion can be allowed as long as it would not affect the interactions. Also, managing sweat can be easier with extra clean clothes and a towel.