Salsa in Style: What to Wear for Salsa Dancing
by Barbara Lucke
Overall, the salsa crowd is a relatively fashion-conscious group. It’s a younger crowd than the ballroom dancers, and has a sexier vibe than the swing and country dancing crowds. Salsa dancers dress in trendy and sexy styles, and their choice of attire depends on the dance environment – that is, the venue and day of the week. While most salseros dress to impress, the crowd is accepting of those who don’t – but you’ll be asked for more dances if you’re looking good! Ladies usually wear short skirts and dresses or form fitting pants or capris when they go out salsa dancing. Sexy tops such as halters, low-cut tops, sheer tops, and midriff-baring tops are common, as well as feminine styles like flowy sleeves and ruffles. For a more casual look, salseras usually wear sexy jeans and a cute cami top or baby T. I would estimate that 40-75% wear dance shoes (depending on the venue), usually 2-3” heels, in a variety of styles and colors. A few women wear jazz slippers or basic black ballroom practice shoes for comfort. Some women wear street shoes, including high-heeled sandals, pumps, and even boots. The men dress fashionably as well, most often sporting trendy jeans and stylish T-shirts. (Note: This is not your gym t-shirt, but something more trendy.) Alternatively, many guys opt for dress slacks and collared shirts. A lot of guys wear trendy belts and shoes for an additional punch of style. I’d say about 30-50% of the men I see out salsa dancing wear dance shoes, usually basic black ballroom shoes, or sometimes black or white jazz slippers. Many men wear street shoes, which are either dress shoes or stylish, low profile sneakers. As I mentioned before, the attire depends on the dance environment. Here’s a quick guide to the salsa environments you’ll find in Austin. Copa Bar & Grill: Salseros usually dress up for this venue, especially on Saturday nights. Studio Socials (Go Dance, Footworks, etc.): Dress up or don’t, whatever you prefer. Studio socials are a more laid-back environment to focus more on your dancing skills and less on impressing others! Dallas Nightclub, Sunday Night Salsa: Dress up or don’t. You may even see some cowboys out there trying to salsa in their cowboy hat and boots. Oasis, Sunday Evenings: Dress light. The dancing is outside and you will be hot! Stiletto heels are a bad idea. They’ll get stuck between the wooden boards that form the dance floor. Speakeasy, Wednesday Nights: Dress up a little. But it is only Wednesday, after all. Salsa Congresses: Dress up, especially on Saturday, but they’re not going to kick you out if you show up looking casual. Everyone’s tired from traveling, workshops, and/or rehearsal. Some final tips regarding what to wear or not wear when you go out to dance salsa: Ladies – Avoid bracelets, dangling jewelry (long necklaces, big earrings), dangling chain belts, and other accessories that will go flying and whip your partner when you spin. Along the same lines, avoid long ponytails that will slap men in their faces. Try a messy bun or putting only half of your hair up instead. And while I encourage you to show some sexy salsa skin, make sure you’re supported and covered where you need it. All that shimmying and shaking can cause some embarrassing moments in the wrong shirt. If you choose to wear a tube top, make sure it will stay up while you dance! Men – Bring an extra shirt with you. Change when your first shirt becomes soaked with sweat. Also avoid wristwatches, which can scrape the ladies’ arms. Experienced salsa dancers: We want to hear from you! What is your favorite outfit to wear out dancing? Describe your favorite pair of salsa shoes or let us know where you buy your social dancing clothes.