Over the years, I’ve experienced many salsa nights during which I really could have used a band-aid, a snack, or a different shirt to change into. As a result, I’ve equipped my shoe bag with some emergency essentials. Hopefully, these tips will help you to continue to dance the night away without feeling gross!
1. Dance Shoe supplies
Obviously, your dance shoes are essential but it’s also important to make sure your bag is large enough or has a few pockets available for some other supplies. My husband and I had some drawstring bags made for our dance community as a fundraiser for the Saskatchewan International Salsa and Bachata Congress. They’re larger than the bags that typically come with salsa shoes and we were able to choose the colours we wanted, which was a nice bonus. One trick I’ve learned is to throw a dryer sheet in with my shoes to keep them smelling fresh. Changing the dryer sheet every few days is ideal to keep the bag smelling nice. Alternatively, you could buy some shoe deodorizer balls or satchels which usually have baking soda in them to soak up the smell of dance. :) In addition, a shoe brush is a worthwhile investment if your shoes have suede soles. This scratchy little brush helps to prevent you from slipping all over the dance floor.
2. Hygiene stash
Next are some items that will help you to maintain your personal hygiene all night long (because as many of us know, cologne and perfume aren’t always sufficient). I always make sure my shoe bag has deodorant, gum or mints, and disposable makeup wipes. I also fill a large zip-lock bag with the following: a comb or a small hair brush, an extra tee shirt or tank (or two!), and a small towel. I keep these items in a zip-lock bag so they don’t pick up the smell of my shoes (classy, right?). When folded tightly into a zip-lock, these items don’t take up much space and I’m often so grateful for them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a bathroom break just go run a comb through my hair, wipe my face (and arms…and legs) with a towel, and change my shirt. With the deodorant and makeup wipes, you can feel like you’ve had a quick shower! It’s really nice and you and your dance partners will certainly appreciate it. Check out this article by Tasleem Ria for more tips on dance etiquette.
3. Comfort and safety stuff
The last few items are included for comfort and safety. One item that never leaves my dance bag is a foldable handheld fan that I purchased at another fundraiser for our local congress. This is a brilliant idea for a fundraiser, by the way (thanks, Keith!). It’s great to take a short break in between dances to just cool off with my awesome fan.
Some of the safety items I now include are band-aids, extra hair elastics, bobby pins, and safety pins. I keep all of these together in a small bag. Even if I don’t need these items, someone else certainly will. Last year on Canada day, I went a little overboard with the red and white theme when someone stepped on my foot so hard, they cracked my big toenail and it bled everywhere. Ouch, and gross. I was so sad and thought I might actually have to leave the party which would have been a disaster since I drove in from another city two hours away to get there. Luckily, my friend Alissa had band-aids with her and gave some to me. Now, I never leave the house without them. The hair elastics and bobby pins are great to put your hair up when it gets hot, but they (in addition to the safety pins) can also help with wardrobe disasters. I’ve used bobby pins to put my shoe back together when the sole lifted. I’ve used safety pins to secure a friend’s bra that broke. These items hardly take up any space at all and they always come in handy. Recently, my mom gave me a travel-sized sewing kit and that’s definitely going in the bag too.
Last, but certainly not least, I always bring a bottle of water (or better yet, an electrolyte beverage) and a snack! You may be thinking, “Really? You can’t go a few hours without a snack?” Well, the answer is no, no I cannot. I’ve learned this the hard way a few times when I’ve actually felt ill after dancing and sweating so much that I’ve had to go home instead of going out to eat with dance friends. That, and I really hate being ‘hangry’. I just hate it so much. I’ll never forget the time my friend Gareth reached his hand out to me in what I thought was a “would you like to dance?” gesture but as it turns out, he had a banana in that hand. I was so happy! #bananadance! A banana is the perfect snack as it fills your belly by replenishing your carbs and potassium. Another time at a social, my friend Stewart said, “That was a fun dance. Would you like some Fig Newtons?” What could I say? Of course I wanted Fig Newtons! At that point in the evening, they were glorious. I’m pretty sure I got in at least five extra dances that night because of my snack break. Never underestimate the power of a snack break. Pack a snack. Better yet, pack two snacks. You won’t regret it.
What do you include in your #dancebag? I’m pretty proud of mine and how I’m prepared for just about anything but if you think I’ve left something out, please comment below!