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What to Wear

In General


To make everything fairer (and cheaper) at Beginner and Novice levels of the University competition circuit, all dancers must wear non-competitive dress - that means nothing with sparkles! But at Intermediate, Advanced, and Ex Student levels anything goes, so make sure you watch the higher levels at competitions to see the fancy stuff.


The club has a collection of wonderful new dresses and skirts that we own for the ladies to wear at competitions, whilst the guys are able to use our waistcoats and ties if required. For the team dance event, everyone gets to wear the sparkly outfits and anyone can wear the team outfits.

The committee and our coaches will help show you what to wear at competitions and make you look your best! 


For details about where we recommend to buy dancewear, or items you can borrow from the club wardrobe, please ask the committee.



A good place to start would be:

A crisp, clean, and ironed white shirt.

Black trousers (suit ones are fine).

Black socks.

Matte black dance shoes.

A tie (you could match it to the colour of your partner's dress).



At Beginner and Novice levels, a dress, or skirt and top is acceptable as long as they are unpatterned and do not contain rhinestones or fringing. For Ballroom, a longer skirt is required, although you may be able to borrow one from the club.

Examples of Non-Competitive Dress - Beginners and Novice
Examples of Competitive Dress - Intermediate and Advanced
In General


If your hair is naturally springy or bouncy, or if you have any tufts which stick up by themselves, you will need to tame it with the liberal application of hair spray and gel.

Do not worry - there will be plenty of people to help you with your hair on the day!



For competitions, the judges don't like being distracted, so the best way to go is gel your hair back to keen it clean and simple and not wavy. If you need help ask the committee!



Your hair needs to be tied back in a tight bun, with all loose strands gelled/hair sprayed down, away from your face. Among other things this stops it swishing around and ending up all over your partner! A hair net is a good way to keep the bun neat and tidy, with lots of hair grips! You are allowed to add hair-slides with some sparkle or decoration on them.

Dance Shoes

In order to dance Ballroom & Latin properly you will need a pair of dance shoes, below is an explanation of where they are of a great benefit to dancers, what to buy and where to get them (with thanks to the Ballroom Guide)


At competitions you will have to wear proper dance shoes in order to be allowed to compete.

What are Dances Shoes?


The right ballroom shoes make all the difference in one’s comfort, stamina, and ability to execute tricky dance moves. They must withstand a tremendous amount of wear and tear without breaking or failing in any way. All dance shoes have a suede bottom to allow for a certain amount of sliding and spinning, while still gripping the floor and allow for powerful movement. There are different types of shoes for both Ballroom and Latin (though beginners don't worry about this yet!) Latin shoes for both sexes have a higher heel than the regular ballroom shoes. Women’s Latin shoes most often feature an open toe, unlike regular ballroom footwear. Getting the right fit with ballroom shoes is not the same as fitting street shoes. In general, dance shoes should be shorter and fit more snugly without causing any discomfort

Do I need Dance Shoes?


If you want to dance socially often, ever plan to compete, or are serious about dancing and want to feel better on the dance floor, then yes, you get yourself some dance shoes.

Depending on what style of dance you do, you will need different shoes. But if you are just starting out and don't know what shoes you need, or if you are a social dancer and don't want to invest in multiple pairs, you will probably want Men's Ballroom Shoes or Ladies' Latin Shoes.


Men generally get Ballroom Shoes because Latin Shoes are too hard to dance Ballroom in because of the heel size. Ladies often get Latin Shoes because Ballroom Shoes are impossible to point your feet in. 

If you never want to compete and the shoes are just for practice, grab a pair of practice shoes, which are generally more comfortable and easier on the body than real shoes.

Are They A Different Size to My Normal Shoes?


When preparing to buy dance shoes, they need to feel like they fit perfectly. The term "fits like a glove" aptly applies. The fit and feel of the shoe will vary slightly for shoe types designed for a specific type of dance. All types of dance shoes should fit snugly to the foot. Once a foot is inside the dance shoe (and laced up, when applicable) it should not be able to move within the shoe.

Choosing a shoe that is half a size or one size smaller than ordinary shoe size should be close to the proper dance fit. The difference between snug and tight can be very slight, so it is important to understand how the shoe should feel. A snug shoe should be form fitting to the foot. There should be just enough room to wiggle the toes and no slipping in the heel. In addition to this, in Ladies Latin the toes should come right to the very front of the shoe. If a shoe is too small, the foot will feel uncomfortable and even the simplest movements will be hindered or even hurt. Dance shoes should feel comfortable on the foot in order to accommodate the hours of practice and performance. A brand new pair of dance shoes should feel tight, but not painfully so. Over time and use, the material will stretch and loosen up.

If you are buying the shoes online, remember that many shoe brands are European and use a different sizing system than shoes in the UK, so always contact the company via e-mail or on the phone to be sure of the right size, they are always happy to help you out.

Men's Ballroom Shoes


These shoes are used for dancing International Ballroom. They are always black matte or patent leather with laces and a 1 inch heel. They are made for taking walking steps forward on the heel, and so they don't allow for easy pointing of the foot. They are also good shoes for beginners who dance both Ballroom and Latin, because basic Latin can be danced in them. If you want to buy only one pair of shoes, buy these (in matte, not patent). 

Men's Latin Shoes


These shoes are used for dancing International Latin. They generally have a 1.5 to 2 inch heel and come in Black leather, but some specialized shoes come in other colours. They are made for taking walking steps forward on the ball of the foot, and are flexible in the arch to allow for pointing of the toe, unlike Ballroom shoes which have a rigid sole. 

Ladies Ballroom Shoes

These shoes are used for dancing International Ballroom. While competition Ballroom shoes are almost always flesh coloured satin, some competitors match their shoes to their dresses, and social Ballroom shoes come in a variety of colours. These shoes are closed toed, may or may not have a strap, and have a 2 to 2.5 inch heel. They are made for taking walking steps forward on the heel of the foot, and have a sturdier heel than Lady's Latin shoes. Because of their sturdiness, it is practically impossible to dance Latin in these shoes.

Ladies Latin Shoes


These shoes are used for dancing International Latin. They are strapped with an open toe, and while competition Latin shoes are almost always flesh or bronze coloured, social shoes come in a variety of colours. They are made of satin and have a strap that sometimes hooks around the entire foot. The heel is 2.5 to 3 inches, to encourage steps to generally be taken on the ball of the foot. They are good shoes for beginners who dance both Ballroom & Latin, because while it is possible to dance basic Ballroom in them, it is impossible to dance Latin in Ladies Ballroom Shoes. As such, if you want to buy only one pair of shoes, buy these.

Where to Buy Dance Shoes - Stockists


We highly recommend visiting and purchasing from recognised retailers (see right and below), or their online stores, to ensure you have the best quality and customer service. These retailers are professionals and will ensure you receive the correct fit and any additional items, such as compulsory ladies' heel protectors. The prices and styles can vary between the retailers, so ensure you look through the full list. In the past, some members have ordered shoes from unofficial retailers (e.g. ebay and amazon) and experienced poor quality and were not supplied with, or could not obtain, heel protectors. This meant shoes could not be used at club lessons or competitions.

By becoming a member of SurreyBLDC you’ll get 25% off at DSI, and 10% off at IDS and Freed of London.


Any questions please do not hesitate to ask a committee member who will be happy to help!

At the start of the year, in the first couple weeks of the semester, we take a trip to Milton Keynes to visit the International Dance Shoes (IDS) warehouse and showroom. Everyone is encouraged to come along on the trip so you can try the shoes and save a massive discount as a group! Whilst you are there, you can also see the production line, the very one all the shoes for the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing are made on!

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