How to sweat less as a dancer?
This article will help you reduce your sweatyness on the dancefloor
and make you a more sought after dancer.
If you are asking yourself: "How to not sweat while dancing?" or "How do dancers not sweat?" Here's the secret:
We all sweat! And the better and stronger you get you actually sweat more and it's actually healthy to sweat a lot. It's a very common misconception that better dancers sweat less.
So the real question is: "How do dancers not look sweaty?" And what can we do to make our sweat as tolerable as possible.
In this article you will find the ways dancers can deal with sweat to make themselves more enjoyable dance partners.
The most important thing to be less sweaty on the dance floor is this though:
"You are doing sports, you will sweat. Just bring a towel!"
And if you want a stylish one, we've created the Dance Towels made from microfiber that look like elegant scarves, or handkerchiefs so you look great even when carrying a towel.
Enjoy the article and see you on the dancefloor!
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1. Dealing with sweat in dancing is way different from other sports!
In most sports all you want is: Get rid of sweat as fast as possible. That's what most sports clothing and sports underwear is all about. And at first glance that sounds perfect for us dancers as well, but we couldn't go more wrong. Many of us dancers have tried different types of sports underwear. I myself have spent almost 1000€ on different types of special sports underwear but in all cases of sportswear you are confronted with one serious problem that only matters for dance sports and which makes it basically impossible for us to wear sports clothing.
Sports clothing transports the sweat from your body to the outside. So if your underwear transports the sweat to the outside, your body will be dryer but your shirt will be wetter and you will look as if someone just spilled water over you ... the whole bottle ... maybe two.
The second problem is this: Your outside layer is exactly that part of the body where your dance partner is touching you. If your clothing transports the sweat to the outside you will be dryer, but your partner will be soaking wet and dancing with you will feel like dancing with Sponge Bob. Although many dancers have developed a high tolerance for sweat, I can tell from personal experience that most partners prefere to dance with me right after I changed and put on a fresh shirt.
There is a 3rd reason to why you dont want to look sweaty. And it's also one that is rather specific to dancing. There is a common misconception that nontheless affects dancers in their dance partner search. People of the think the better you get at the dances, the more technically sound you are, the less effort dancing will take. Which means that the most experienced dancers will look less sweaty, just because they have a more efficient dancing technique. This is not true, but people often percieve it that way. So in fact, if you look really sweaty, you look like someone who dances exaggeratedly with a lot of unnecessary motion and many will deduct that it's probably better and healthyer to dance with someone else.
So: Clothing that will just transport the sweat to the "outside" is great for running and cycling, but it's not the best solution for dancers.
As dancers you want to keep the water in or dry it off and that's where the dancetowels help. You get rid of the sweat of your head before it soaks your shirt or the drops fly across the room.
2. Dress in layers.
Have you ever wondered, why so many professional dancers actually dance with their jackets on? If you look at Nils Andrén or Steven Sayer or Ryan Francois, you will almost always see them social dance with their jackets on. (It's a different story for videos and lessons, but for those they can put on a new shirt before each show.)
The reason is simple: You want to keep the sweat in, so it doesn't affect your partner. (You remember the Sponge Bob phenomena) You want your clothing to soak up the most sweat possible, without looking and feeling wet.
So these are the layers I use for festivals and dress up parties:
- Underwear T-shirt (no tanktop)
- Vintage dress shirt
- Vintage jacket or vest
Each layer is there to absorb as much sweat as possible, so you want there to be multiples of them, but not more than 3 or you will collapse under the heat.
For more casual events I use 2 layers:
- Dress shirt
I change both at least 3x per evening. I know that's more than the average dancer changes, but my dance partners allways love me for that.
Pro-Tipp: Use skincolored underwear, not black or white. That will look the best if it is soaked. I know it looks weird when you first put it on, but the final result will be the best.
3. Choose the right fabric
Cotton or wool are allways the way to go for clothing. Most vintage clothing is made from those fabrics anyways, so vintage clothing is allways a great option.
Although our for our BJ Dance Towels we use a special combination of 80% Polyester 20% Polyethylen, clothing is a completely different animal.
We put a lot of effort into creating a microfiber towel that can be washed at 60°C so that's what makes it possible for us to have non-smelling-microfiber.
So for clothing: cotton and wool are the way to go, since they absorb the most sweat and smell the least.
4. Choose the right colors
For colors there are a few simple rules that can help you look less sweaty:
- Dark colors look less sweaty then bright or pastell colors when wet.
- White is allways great if (!) you wear a white (or better skin colored) undershirt, otherwise yout outer layer becomes seethrough.
- Texture and patterns in shirts help camoflage wet parts. (I know hawai shirts are not for everyone, but this is a true arguement in their favor.)
Here are some absolute no-goes: Light blue, yellow and bright red! Just stay away from those.
5. Care for what you eat and drink
As in every sport, dancers need to drink a lot to not collapse on the dancefloor. Drinking less is not an option for us. Trust me, it's not worth it, I've tried.
In fact you want to drink a lot, even if it makes you sweat more. The best recommendation is to drink something with juice in it, because when sweating and dancing you don't only loose water, you also loose electrolytes, salt and many other vital substances.
But there ways to influence the smell that comes with the sweat. Here are a few things that make you sweat more or smell more:
- Alcohol (increases sweat and smell)... Sry bartenders...
- Meat (increases and changes smell)
- Garlic (increases smell)
- Chilly (increases sweat)
- Onions (increase smell)
- Asparagus (changes body odor completely)
I am not saying you need to stay away from all of these, Just maybe consider that "Döner with beer" before the dance might not make you the most sought after dancer of the evening.
UPDATE: I previously had thought salty snacks at the bar would be good for dealing with sweat, But after reading some science articles on it, it turns out that we all eat way more salt than is actually good for your health. So... Stay away from the incredibly tasty salty and spicy snacks at the bar... they will just make you feel dried out and hotter than you actually are.
Side note for dancers and organisers alike: Bars often don't love hosting dance events because they look great, but they still don't. Why is that?
Usually dancers drink "cheap stuff" and not a lot of it. They drink water, an juice and sometimes alc free Beer. If you are a dancer, we recommend you to drink a lot, for your own sake and for the sake of the bar that needs to sell a lot of non alcoholic drinks to be able to profitably run a dance evening.
6. Dry your head
With the right clothing and the right food you can do a lot to reduce or camouflage sweat and make yourself more approachable at a dance event.
But even with all these things said, we sweat the most at our heads, which is especially unpleasent when doing dips or spins.
That's why you should allways have a towel with you that you use to dry your head with after a few dances. Your partners will loooove you for it.
Written by: Benedikt Jockenhöfer
Benedikt has been a dancer all his life. Growing up in Burkina Faso he started dancing early. After venturing through all kinds of dances he finally settled for swing dances like Lindy Hop and Shag, that he found his love for in Munich.