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 listen to Katy Perry songs 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. It’s dance competition day, and it’s going to be a long one.
I am a dance dad. Little Girl has been in dance for going on 5 years now. 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 (and add a duo this year). 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 and her poor feet.
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, Ashville. We head all over the three states and 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. From hairstyles to maintaining sanity, I have come to learn the ways of competition days, and making through with at least one ounce of sanity. So today, I share with you my (revised) top five tips for being the dad of a competitive dancer. 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 just about any facial hair style I choose, but I don’t know anything about having long hair on top of my head. The high ponytail is a standard hair look for dance practices and recital rehearsals. It’s also a good, quick redo of post dance, pre-awards hair. 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: Sideshow Entertainment
“You mean there is something more entertaining on competition day than the dances???”
No, that’s not what I mean. This year, our days will likely start long before 8am. Then they will last long after 8pm. Competitions have a way of having you there for longer than you even feel like being awake on the weekend. There can often be many hours between dances and award ceremonies. It makes for a very long day. So you always need to have a plan for what you’re going to do in between all of these. Last year, Little Dude and I lucked up and we hit a Pokemon tournament. But you might not always be that lucky.
Study the cities and towns you will be visiting. They all have something unique to offer. Make it a mini vacation. Enjoy a cool restaurant. Visit the local market. Hit the shopping malls. If you’re in Knoxville, go see the world’s biggest basketball at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. There is a lot you can do to break the monotony of groups dancing to Sia.
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 a lot of dance studios, 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 sponges. Instill the value of “Less is more”. 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. I don’t have to know how to do it. My body doesn’t move and contort that well. But there is a lot of practice that goes into a dance routine. And yes, you WILL have to help her perfect all the toe pointing and facial expressions. Those are huge for points in a competition. It’s also big dad points when you can say “That was good, but your feet need to point right at them judges, girl.”
It also makes competition days a bit better because hey, some of the music is catchy, and if you can sit there and groove in your seat, then flaunt yo stuff boy! Know the songs, know the dances. Know the positions and know the facials. Be consistent in practice and the star of your daughter’s eyes as she goes to class and says “My dad can do that!”
Dance Dad Tip #5: Be a Part of the Memories
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!