Santa Cruz Dance

Your Headquarters for Traditional Dancing in Santa Cruz California


But What Should I Wear to the Dance?

Going to a social event like a dance can create a lot of anxiety. Most people want to look good and make a good impression, fit in with the regular crowd, and be comfortable for an evening of activity. The BACDS website ( contains some hints about what to wear, and an internet search on contra dancing can yield many informative websites with pictures. Here are a few tips about dressing for a dance.


Comfortable shoes are the most important part of a dance outfit. Many experienced dancers have specialty shoes for dancing, but that's not a requirement. If you are just getting started with contra or English country dancing, choose footwear from your closet with soft, smooth soles that can be cleaned off easily. Shoes with a deep tread can bring in dirt and small stones that damage the finish on the dance floor. Also, rubber soles that stick to the floor can be hazardous to knees and ankles during turns and twirls. Please avoid wearing shoes that might leave black marks on the floor. Ladies, choose shoes with low heels that will stay securely on your feet. Those strappy sandals look great, but you'll be much happier dancing in those sensible shoes.

When you find yourself looking on the web to line up a month's worth of dances, consider investing in a pair of special shoes that you only wear on the dance floor. Many companies that manufacture shoes for dancing make dance sneakers that provide cushioning and special soles. There are also ballroom dance shoes, jazz, and character shoes. Some folks like bowling shoes. Some people like athletic shoes. You can ask other dancers what they prefer and where to find dance shoes.


Most regular BACDS dances, both English country and Contra dance, call for casual dress, and you can wear what you prefer. Loose, comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict movement is best. Lots of women like to wear skirts or dresses with twirl ability. (Some men like to dance in skirts too. There's a fun article about men in skirts on the Queen City (Buffalo, NY) Contra Dancers website: Many men like to wear light slacks with t shirts. Hawaiian shirts are popular, too. Shorts are just fine.

Both Contra and English country dancing call for rather vigorous, sustained movement. You may want to wear clothing that launders easily. And, if you tend to perspire heavily when you exercise, bring an extra shirt or two. You'll be more comfortable, and your partners will appreciate it.


While good hygiene and grooming is always appreciated, using fragrance of any kind is not. Some dancers suffer from allergies and chemical sensitivities that flare up with painful symptoms with exposure to fragrances. Please do not use any cologne, perfume, scented lotions, or aftershave when you attend a dance. It's even better if you can use unscented soap, hair products, and deodorant or antiperspirant. If possible, you can use unscented detergent for laundering your dance clothes.

There are some special events, the Fall Ball, the No Snow Ball, and the Playford Ball, where people dress more elegantly. And there is an annual Halloween Contra dance where costumes are admired (but not required).

Casual, loose fitting clothes and clean, soft soled shoes are the only wardrobe items needed for a wonderful evening of dancing at any of the regular BACDS Contra and English country dances. And kindly observing fragrance free guidelines helps make the dances more comfortable for everyone.

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