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Inside the Dancer's Bag: How to pack for a dance competition

Posted on February 04 2020

So...what's inside the dancer's bag? Or, if you will indulge me for a moment, “What has it got in its pocketsess, Precious?” (Brownie points if you get the reference, just sayin')


What do I mean by that? Well, it’s competition time. And every competition I laugh because I have more bags than I do when I go on holiday for two weeks. The main culprits are the garment bags holding my costumes. My partner can get away with minimalism because gentlemen don’t have quite the same issue. So he just smirks at me. You know who you are.

THAT BEING SAID. How, exactly, should you pack for a dance competition? Whether you’re new to the competition scene or whether you’ve done several, we’ve put together a checklist to help keep you sorted. And if I missed anything, let me know in the comments! And for anyone interested, I’ve added a list of some of the cosmetics I use at the end. You will also find a printable version of the list at the end, to keep in your bag.

 

THE BASICS

YOUR HEATLIST  Ok, this is an important one. Do not rely on your partner or instructor to keep track of your heats. Do it yourself. If you are dancing Pro-Am, the Pro to your Am is likely dancing with multiple people so keep track of when you’re supposed to be on the floor and present yourself in a timely manner.
Entry tickets/registration
Costume(s)
Shoes
Fishnets  (for women, optional)
Shoe brush
Sewing kit
Jewelry  (earrings, bracelets, necklace, as needed)
Wrap for the ballroom, to keep warm
Towel  (in case you perspire)
Day clothes & shoes

 

MAKEUP

Makeup remover & sponges/Q-tips
Makeup brushes for eyes & face
Foundation
Concealer
Bronzer
Blush/highlighter/contouring
Eyeshadow & primer
Eyeliner
False eyelashes Optional. I have a hard time wearing falsies as the glue irritates my skin and my skill at applying them is ZERO. You could always have someone else apply them for you or opt to get your makeup done professionally. IF, however, you are like me and have sensitive skin you can opt for a bold mascara. One I recently discovered is by Benefit cosmetics and is called BADgal BANG! I’ve worn it several times and have had no irritation. And it also really pops my eyelashes. 
Eyelash curler To crimp your eyelashes upwards and makes them seem longer. We see more of the eye. 
Lipstick & lipliner
Fixing spray
Tanning spray/cream (if necessary)
Hairspray/gel
Hair elastics & bobby pins
Hairnet(s)
Hairbrush & comb

 

TOILETRIES

Toothpaste & toothbrush  
Dental floss
Face soap
Shampoo
Razor
Shower cap If you opt to get your hair done professionally and are dancing on multiple days, it is possible to sleep on the hair (just make sure you tell the stylist this is what you want and they will proceed accordingly). However, if you want to shower you’ll need to cover it. The same applies if you choose to get a spray tan. The first time you shower after a spray tan is ONLY a rinse to get rid of the excess. Soap or shampoo will wash away more than you want.
Hair bonnet For sleeping. If you get your hair done and need to sleep on it, a hair bonnet will minimize the overnight messiness.
First aid kit Bandaids, disinfectant, antispeptic cream
Moisturizer Face & body, as needed
Nails scissors & nail file
Tweezers
Earplugs For sleeping. Trust me.
Tampons
DEODORANT

 

SNACKS (suggestions)

Note: for a truly excellent post on pre/post competition nutrition, see the following blog post: The Best Pre and Post Competition Nutrition for Dancers 

Peanut butter Tasty & will keep you satisfied.
Whole grains Good energy booster.
Oatmeal Good energy booster.
Fruit & nuts Energy & protein.
Cottage cheese/yogurt/hard-boiled eggs Light protein to keep you on your feet while between heats.
Dark chocolate I'm a sucker for 85% Lindt myself.
Gum/mints Think of your partner.
Water bottle Many competitions will have a water station, but it's always a good idea to have one filled and close to hand.

 

MISC

Phone & charger  
Cash/Cards/Chequebook Most vendors at competitions take cards now, thanks to technology, but there may be an odd case where cash or cheque is preferred.
Reading material Or something else to keep you occupied if/when you need a breather. I always have a book. Because I’m a bookworm. If I need a break, you’ll find me next to the nearest window with my book.

 

And lastly...but certainly not least...YOU. Bring your energy and your sparkle and your love of dance and get ready to shine. Don’t focus on the result, focus on the experience. Because standing on the podium lasts 30 seconds and then it’s over. You love to dance and that is why you do this. Take that with you and the rest will follow.

I’ll see you on the floor.
(Printable version and cosmetic brand list below)

 

MY COSMETICS
Eyeshadow: Jeffree Star Blue Blood Palette. Pricey, but the colours and the pigmentation are perfect for a ballroom floor.

Eyeliner: Sephora Collection Colourful Wink-It Felt Liner Waterproof (black)

Eyeshadow primer: Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer

Mascara: Benefit Cosmetics BADgal BANG!

Lipstick: Besame Cosmetics Red Velvet Lipstick

Lip liner: Sephora Collection Rouge Gel Lip liner

Fixing Spray: Aloette Set + Shield Environmental Defense Makeup Setting Mist 

 

PRINTABLE VERSION

THE BASICS
-YOUR HEATLIST 
-entry tickets/registration
-costume(s)
-shoes
-fishnets (for women, optional)
-shoe brush
-sewing kit
-jewelry (earrings, bracelets, necklace as needed)
-a wrap for the ballroom, to keep warm
-towel (in case you perspire)
-day clothes & shoes


MAKEUP
-makeup remover & sponges/Q-tips
-makeup brushes for eyes and face
-foundation
-concealer
-bronzer
-blush/highlighter/contouring
-eyeshadow & primer
-eyeliner
-eyelash curler
-false eyelashes (optional) (4)
-lipstick and lipliner
-fixing spray
-tanning spray/cream (if necessary)
-hairspray/gel
-hair elastics & bobby pins
-hairnets
-hairbrush/comb

TOILETRIES
-toothpaste & toothbrush
-dental floss
-face soap
-shampoo
-razor
-shower cap
-hair bonnet
-first aid kit (bandaids, disinfectant, ointment)
-moisturizer (face and body, as needed)
-nail scissors/nail file
-tweezers
-earplugs (for sleeping)
-tampons (ladies only)


SNACKS 

-peanut butter
-whole grains
-oatmeal
-fruit & nuts
-cottage cheese/yogurt/hard-boiled eggs
-dark chocolate
-water bottle
-gum or mints

MISC
-phone & charger
-cash/card/chequebook 
-reading material

About the author

Anna Humphrey
Author and Dancer
Anna thinks she might have been born dancing. She spent several years as a ballerina and is now in love with ballroom dancing...and just a little obsessed with Tango and Viennese Waltz and Bolero and Peabody and...all of it, really. Her studio is her home away from home. When not dancing, she can be found reading, writing, and traveling. And drinking copious amounts of tea.

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