I do own what is considered proper ballroom outfits for both smooth and latin. But they were made several pounds ago and no longer fit quite as well as they used to. And, yes, it makes me incredibly self-conscious to wear them. So for the last Showcase, I ditched them and just went in basic dress shirt/pants and vest. Something I plan to do again for the upcoming Showcase.
There is some connection between our studio and a maker of ballroom dance attire. They typically bring a display to Showcase and their is a rack of dresses in the studio right now. There is some men’s stuff as well and I am getting some subtle pushing towards getting some new things. Part of that is related to the pushing I’m getting towards doing another bigger event because you generally aren’t taken seriously at those unless you are outfitted like a “real” ballroom dancer.
I don’t know. Maybe I’ve just gotten over it. There is something to be said about putting on what is almost a “uniform”. Right clothes for the job and all that. Or maybe the longer I do this, something about having to “look the part” just grinds my gears a bit. I know guys get off easy when it comes to costs but do you really need to spend a significant amount of money on something you’ll wear a few times a year just because it is what you are “supposed” to wear.
Before I go any further, I’ll just say none of this applies to dance shoes. They are necessary.
And some of this is coming from a bit of conversation I caught from another student. They are doing their first Showcase this weekend and, I don’t know what this guy does for a living, but it is clear that dress shirts are not a requirement and he did seem a little uncomfortable trying to figure out what he should wear.
Same thing happened at the last Showcase. Another couple doing their first and they were looking around at all the dancers in their sparkly dresses and outfits and you could sense they felt out of place.
It is kind of a tricky issue. I know the studios want people to do Showcases for a whole bunch of reasons. But it certainly doesn’t make sense to ask someone to spend a significant amount on outfits if they aren’t sure they are even going to like the experience. So how do you make it more inclusive or really how do you make people feel like they are welcomed even if they aren’t wearing the “right” things?
To be fair, they typically do a great job of trying to make everyone comfortable at events like this. (Well not every instructors, just the good ones). But it can still put some subtle extra pressure on people when they look around and see that they are dressed differently.
It is what it is and I know it is a part of the fantasy for a lot of people. Me, I’m pretty much over that.