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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Intro to Tanning: "Do I really need to tan?" and Other Common Questions for Ballroom Dancers

Some of the most common questions I receive, both around the studio and via blog emails, is if tanning is necessary, why is tanning so popular in Dancesport, and how do I tan. For the sake of not creating the world’s longest blog post, I’m going to address tanning in a series of posts over the next few weeks, staring with this post, which will answer the questions if tanning is a Dancesport necessity and why Dancesport competitors love our tans so dearly. 

While I think it’s a good idea for everyone to go ahead and jump into a tanning routine for your competitions and performances, the necessity of tanning somewhat depends on your level and/or type of performance. For many of you, performances will be limited to the competition setting, which means that your tanning needs will depend on your proficiency level. If this is your very first competition and you’re competing as a Newcomer (meaning the proficiency level, not that this is your first comp) you can forgo the tanning, if you wish. Additionally, some people will say that tanning isn’t necessary for competitors in the Beginning Bronze classifications, but I don't entirely agree with this. Anyone competing Intermediate Bronze or higher should tan. Another instance in which tanning may not be a necessity is in-studio performances, which many studios do from time-to-time to showcase their students to the community in hopes of bringing in new students; you don’t need to tan for these types of events, though you will certainly look better if you do.

I know what you’re thinking: “Ok, so apparently I need to tan, but why? Why isn’t my natural hue good enough, shouldn’t the judges be looking at the quality of my dancing, not the color of my skin?”

Well, you’re kind of right; the judges should be scorning you based on the quality of your dancing, and most likely they are, but at the same time, you need to wear the correct equipment for the sport you’re in – it’s sort of a matter of respect. For example, you wouldn’t see a soccer player hit the field without shin guards and cleats. Nor would you see a basketball player hit the court without his jersey. It’s the same concept here: you’re wearing the uniform of the sport, and in Dancesport, part of that uniform happens to be a nice, dark tan. In other words, you need to look the part, and that is important to the judges.

Aside from that, tanning really helps you to look your best on the floor, and not just because you’re wearing the Dancesport uniform, so to speak. Something that’s important to keep in mind is that lighting tends to be harsh at most performance venues, competitions included. The harsh lighting tends to wash people out, making them look much fairer than they are, which is almost universally unflattering and can sometimes look sickly. This is perhaps the biggest benefit to tanning, as it works the same way heavy foundation and bronzer work on the face, by providing extra pigment to the body, therefore preventing a pale, sickly appearance on the floor.

Another awesome perk to tanning, and my personal favorite perk, is tanned skin really highlights the muscle definition dancers earn as a byproduct of their craft. I think this has to do with shadows looking darker on tanned skin than light skin, which means the subtle shadows produced by the texture of a toned muscle structure are much more noticeable on tanned skin than fair skin. Additionally, if you opt for an artificial tan, depending on the application type, you can emphasize muscle definition further by contouring your body with the tanning product by applying extra layers/darkness to places to regions that will help emphasize, or altogether fake, the appearance of muscle tone. This will be of particular interest to Latin/Rhythm dancers, as their bodies tend to be more fully display than individuals who only compete Standard/Smooth. However, I’ll get to the specifics of how to do this in a later post.

Something else you will want to keep in mind in regards to tanning is what style(s) you compete. If you’re someone who competes Latin/Rhythm or competes both Latin/Rhythm and Standard/Smooth you will want to tan darker than someone who competes only Standard/Smooth. Additionally, if you’re competing American Smooth instead of International Standard, you’re probably going to want to tan darker than a Standard dancer, because Smooth costumes tend to display the body more than Standard costumes.


I hope this post has been helpful in helping you to understand why tanning is important and if you need to tan for your upcoming competition. Keep a look out for upcoming posts on how to tan, favorite tanning products, how to contour the body with tanning, etc. And sound off in the comments below with your opinions and/or questions regarding tanning in Dancesport.

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