First comp

My instructor has a new student who will be attending their first competition shortly. In this case it is a young lady. This got me thinking what I wish someone had told me when I first began competing. So that was my incentive to write this.

Things I Wish I Knew Starting Out


Yes, you need to make sure you have an appropriate outfit. Depending on your age group, your level, and what you are dancing, you need to find something to wear. Having a gown made, whether for smooth/standard or latin/rhythm or other dance can get expensive. But remember, renting a gown can take some time. Plan accordingly.

If you want an inexpensive gown made from someplace how long will that take? Not just how long will it take to make the gown, but how long will it take to be shipped to you? I looked up one site, not sure where they make their gowns, but they say it will take 15 business days after you pay before your gown will be shipped. Then shipping could take another 10-15 business days. Recognizing that a business day may not include weekends, that means it could easily take a month to get your dress. And it could take longer. How, you ask? Well you need to take into account holidays. And not just US holidays. If you request a dress from China you need to take into account Chinese holidays. So to be on the safe side, you may need to begin ordering that dress 2 months in advance.


I mention ordering a dress 2 months in advance. Why so long? They may be selling you a dress but they may or may not include accessories. Will you need earrings to wear with the dress? Do you need any bracelets? Do you need a necklace of some sort? What about hair accessories? You could order these things before you get the dress, maybe once you order it. But do you know what color stones will be used on the dress? Do you want to match those colors? Who carries what you want and how soon can they get it to you?


If you are going to compete you probably have the shoes you use for your lessons. Are they in good enough shape to be used at the competition? Will you need something else? Feet can be finicky. I for one am terrible about fitting shoes. Where you may know your normal size, when dancing you may need a slightly different size. And that size may depend on the manufacturer. So do you have something you are comfortable wearing at the competition? Will it work with your outfit?

Hair and makeup:

You can usually pay someone to do your hair and makeup. For first timers, that might be a good idea. It will give you the chance to let someone put on your make up that knows what is appropriate for competition. The same goes for hair. It has its advantage letting someone else do your hair if you’re not sure how to do it. But remember, this will cost you money. Do you know how they want to be paid? Do they accept checks or cash only? Can they accept credit cards? This is good to know in advance. Also remember, they may need to “add” ornaments or hair-pieces to do what is necessary. Those will usually be an additional charge. Having additional money with you is a good idea.

Also if someone does your hair and make how early will you need to be there to get it done? Some women get their hair done the night before. That only works if you are available the night before. Have you figured out what you will wear to get your hair and makeup done? Sounds like a strange question but its not. Do you really want to wear a turtleneck then have someone put makeup on you? How are you going to get out of the turtleneck without messing up your hair or makeup? Same goes for a high necked tee shirt. I usually wear either a v-neck top or a button front shirt. This makes it easier for me to get them off without messing up my hair or makeup.

Also, are  you planning on showering before hair and makeup? Once you have your hair and makeup done, you don’t want to mess it up in the shower. Will you just shower the night before? Things to think about.


It may seem strange but you have to start thinking about time. Let’s say your begin dancing at 8AM. Maybe you have hair and makeup at 5AM. When do you have to get up? That depends on you but you need a reliable way to waking up. Me, well I set two alarms on my cell phone to get me up.

If all goes well hair and make up might start on time at 5, and be done by 6AM. What time do you need to be down at the ballroom? That you will usually decide with your instructor. Let’s say you have to be at the ballroom at 7:30, gives you time to warm up. You need to leave your room around 7:15, gives you time to catch your elevator and find your instructor and the ballroom.

That means you have about an hour to get dressed, from 6:15 until 7:15 (I’m giving you 15 minutes to pay the hair/makeup person and get back to your room). Can you get into your outfit by yourself? Do you need help zipping or hooking yourself into your outfit? If you need help, who are you going to ask to help you? Do you have all your things together? You might take your shoes, ID, room key, maybe snacks, more lipstick, notes with your dance times or other information, cell phone, lucky charm, whatever you decide. Do you have them together in advance or will you remember them at the last minute? I have to take additional items with me (inhaler) so you need to consider getting these items together in advance. And how will you carry them – in a tote, in your purse?

It takes planning to make all this work.