Now that you've attended a few swing dances and are or are thinking about taking classes, you may have noticed that most dancers, both men and women, bring a bag with them. There are a few key things that your dance bag should be outfitted with to make your dance experience fun and comfortable.
- Swing Dance Shoes (and socks, if needed)
Outfitting yourself with the appropriate shoes will keep your feet comfortable and will help make your swing dance moves smoother. And, if nothing else, dancers notice when you've bought a pair of swing dance shoes. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is that those shoes are an investment. Dancers can see that if you've committed to buying a good pair of dance shoes, or have paid to get a great pair of Keds sueded, you're serious about becoming a good dancer and you're committed to learning.
You've probably also noticed that swing dancers always bring a bag with them and change into their shoes to dance and change them again before they leave. The bottoms of swing dance shoes are not made for outside use, and you'll keep your shoes in tip-top condition if you only wear them on the dance floor. Bleyers brand dance shoes are the one exception to this; if you can find this brand of dance shoe, their soles are made to go anywhere and will keep for years. But, to keep them in tip-top shape, change your shoes before you leave.
And don't forget your socks, if needed (many women's slingback styles don't need socks, but need nylons). So keep a fresh pair of socks in your dance bag so you can always stay light on your feet.
- A clean shirt (or two or three)
Swing dancing is a hot and sweaty activity, and even on the coolest of nights, if you're dancing a lot you are going to sweat. Make sure you change your shirt a few times throughout the night to keep you and your partner dry. Most dancers understand that we all get hot and sweaty while we dance, but you can keep it to a minimum. Don't be shy and change your shirt frequently during the night. Ladies, if you wear a dress, be prepared with a full change of clothes. It's perfectly acceptable and you'll be fresh enough to keep dancing all night.
- A bottle of water
Again, swing dancing is a hot and sweaty activity (if you're not sweating, you're not dancing enough!). You'll want to make sure that you keep yourself hydrated with a bottle of water or two throughout the night. And water makes sure that you're not adding in any of those extra calories that you're burning off back in while hydrating you and keeping you cool. Trust me on this one, the one thing you don't want to forget is your water bottle.
- A hair clip for long hair
If you're dancing a lot during the night, there will come a point where your hair is just not going to look good anymore, no matter how great your victory rolls or spit curls looked. A hair tie will keep your hair looking great and will help keep you cool.
- Hand sanitizer
Unless you're going to be making regular trips to wash your hands, hand sanitizer is a must. You're going to be coming in contact with a lot of people throughout the night and you'll be holding the hand of many. Hand sanitizer will help keep you and your partners healthy and ensure that any germs you come in contact with will bite the dust.
You want to smell as good as you look. 'Nuff said.
- Gum and breathmints
Again, you want your breath to be as fresh as the rest of you.
- A notebook and pen
There are several reasons that I always advocate having a notebook and pen with you. The first is that during a lesson or the dance you might learn a killer step that you'll want to remember how to do later and you'll want to write it down. The second reason is that you might want to get/give a phone number. I realize you have a cell phone to take all of that information down, but your cell might not be handy/not working so it's always good to have an easy backup solution in case you need to give your digits to that hep cat or swingin' betty you've been eyeing all night.
By keeping your dance bag stocked and ready to go at all time, you'll be able to Lindy bomb even the squarest of joints and be ready to kick up your heels at a moments notice. Have fun and keep dancing!