The smell of hairspray fills the hotel room as I sit here planning what to do between dances. Little Dude is already griping about having to go, and it’s going to be a long day. Solos at 7:30am but the group dances aren’t until 3pm. That’s a long time to hear “Tutus and Tennis Shoes” more than 3 times. We grab the big black box that contains all of the outfits and accessories and makeup for the day, load up the car, and hit the road. Dance competition days can be the longest days of your life.
I am a dance dad. Little Girl has been in dance for going on 4 years now (shout out to Studio 413). She started out taking normal classes and doing your typical recitals. It then progressed into competitive dance, hip hop, lyrical, and starting this past season, a solo performance. She has to get it from my wife who can move to the music. She sure doesn’t get it from me. I can play guitar, drums, piano, almost any instrument you put in front of me. But I cannot dance. Just ask my junior prom date.
LG loves it though. It’s her thing, her passion, so three weekends each spring we hit the road for various dance competitions. Charlotte, Roanoke, Knoxville. We head all over the three states to spend 10+ hours, hoping to watch the dancers from Little Girl’s studio take home the top honors. Over the last few years I’ve learned a lot of little tricks to being a dance dad. So today, I share with you my top five tips for being a dance dad. Let’s get started!
Dance Dad Tip #1: The High Ponytail
I’m bald. I have been for quite some time. So hair isn’t exactly my thing. I can sculpt a beard, but I don’t know anything about having long hair. The high ponytail is a standard hair look for dance practices and recital rehearsals. If you learn any hairstyle for your dancing queen, it should be this. Trust me on this one. It will be known if you do it incorrectly. I’ve never had another dance parent point it out, but my daughter is happy to do so very quickly when I do it wrong. Check the video below for a quick how-to.
Dance Dad Tip #2: Snack Packs
A dance competition is a terrible place to get hungry. The ones we have been to allow food in the auditoriums, which is good. But if you don’t bring your own, be prepared to shell out some serious cash to keep your hunger down. I once spent $15 on a nacho and cheese, plain hotdog, and bottle of water. You’re already spending enough just to go to competitions, so don’t let them hit you with the snack bar too. Save the money for photos and videos.
We take an insulated lunch box to every competition. We keep sweet snacks, cracker packs, fruits, nuts, and bottled water. Most of the time, they won’t have a problem with you bringing it in. And if they do, you just say it’s for the dancer and there are no more questions asked. So save that dough for something else. Pack some snacks. If nothing else, it keeps you from losing the perfect viewing seat because you just had to have a pretzel.
Dance Dad Tip #3: Learn Your Makeup Colors
The image above is intimidating if you don’t know your makeup. Even though I spent my years as a poser goth and emo kid, I don’t know much outside of the color black. Like, rose and red are two different colors. Salmon and pink are two different colors. At our dance studio (shout out to Studio 413) there are often specific brands and colors that are to be used for dance competitions. Make no mistake. Brands really can have different shades of the exact same color name. Red from L’Oréal may be a slightly different shade than red from NYX.
If it is at all possible, get exactly what is requested by dance instructors. If you can’t find it at your local Ulta, you can almost always find it online and have it arrive before competition time. Also, YouTube can be your best friend when it comes to the best ways to apply different types of makeup. Get to know the different brushes, and always remember that if you don’t know what foundation to use, Cosmo has you covered.
Dance Dad Tip #4: Learn the Routines
Remember up top when I said that I can’t dance? Well, that’s still true, but I always try to learn parts of Little Girl’s routines. As the one that is home the most, it’s up to me to make sure she practices and help her remember when she forgets moves. Three dances for one competition create a lot of steps to have to learn. So I try to learn parts of it too. And LG loves it.
She will often create dances for me and her and tune it to some ridiculous pop song. Like I said, she loves to dance. It’s her thing. So when we are goofing off while she practices her dances, I have her teach me the steps. It helps her to remember and helps me to know what she is doing. So don’t be afraid to dance. Learn the steps, do the routines, and then YOU can be the parent in the audience that does the routine in your chair while your child is on stage. Hey, at least it helps to pass the time.
Dance Dad Tip #5: Remember the Good Old Days
The days are long and tiring. The music can be repetitive, and it’s easy to become annoyed on such long days. The kids who are dancing and the siblings that come to support know this as well. But the most important thing to remember is that these days don’t last forever. And I’m not just talking about the time in between leaving the hotel and getting back to sleep. Kids grow up so fast it’s insane. Little League turns into varsity. Dance turns into cheerleading, color guard, career.
These are days that make memories of a lifetime. Years from now you won’t remember how long you spent at that competition, but your dancer will remember you being there. You’re not going to remember how much you paid for food, but your dancer will remember how many times she heard you say “I’m proud of you.” Never will you think about the miles you put on your car, but often she will think of the trophies, and the friends, and the music.
And there you have it. Based on experience, my top five tips for being a dance dad to a competitive dancer. What do you think? Are you a dance dad? What tips would you give? Leave your comments below!