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1. What is DanceSport?

DanceSport is the competitive side of ballroom dancing. There are a few different Untitledgoverning bodies for ballroom in the US and around the world, but the most common are collegiate competitions and USA Dance competitions. College competitions, as the name suggests, are organized by colleges around the country and are meant for dancers enrolled in any degree program. Some collegiate competitions may be open to the public, so check with the organizers if you aren’t sure.  USA Dance also organizes competitions and is the main governing body for amateur ballroom dancers in the US. It is also part of IDSF, the world governing body for amateur ballroom dancers. You must be a USA Dance member to compete in USA Dance competitions. Annual fees vary.

2. What are the styles and levels?

Competitions are divided into four main categories:

  • American Rhythm – Swing, Cha Cha, Rumba, Bolero, Mambo
  • American Smooth – Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Viennese Waltz
  • International Latin – Jive, Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, Paso Doble
  • International Standard – Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Quickstep, Viennese Waltz

The competitions are also divided into sections by level of experience:

  • Newcomer or Pre-Bronze
  • Beginner or Bronze
  • Intermediate or Silver
  • Advanced or Gold
  • Master of Syllabus (not frequently offered at collegiate competitions)
  • Pre-Championship
  • Championship

3.    How much experience do I need to compete?

NONE! With basic knowledge of the steps in the most common dances, you’re ready for the floor. Why? Because you’re competing against people at the same experience level as you.

4.    What do I wear?

We covered ladies’ Latin and Ballroom dresses in an earlier post. However, for many competitions, costumes aren’t allowed for the beginner dancer.  Here are some guidelines if you’re not allowed to wear a costume:


For Standard/Smooth:
Shirt: White or black long-sleeved dress shirt and tie
Pants: Black dress slacks or tux pants.
Accessories: Black vest or buttoned sweater that perpetuates the formal look. No watches, You may also wear a tie or bowtie that tastefully matches your partner’s dress.

For Latin/Rhythm
Shirt: Black or white dress shirt. No loose clothing.
Pants: Fitted black dress slacks.
Accessories: Belts with shiny accents attract attention to hips, but be careful not to look tacky. No watches.


For Standard/Smooth:
Dress: Formal dresses or skirts. Wear a dress that is above your ankles. Skirts should not be tight fitting and should land at least mid-calf.
Accessories: Nice, elegant jewelry – pearls or rhinestone pieces that attract attention.

For Latin/Rhythm:
Cocktail/party dress or two piece outfit. Short skirts or skirts with flare or fringe are great for spinning. Be careful to not wear something too short! Avoid restrictive clothing. Consider wearing something bright and bold, as black tends to be drowned out.
Accessories: sparkle on the floor! Large glittery earrings/bracelets/necklaces/rings are great. Get creative! Nude, flesh-tone, fishnet stockings can elongate your legs. Overall, go for sexy and comfortable.

Still have questions? Leave them in the comments below!