Category Archives: General Thoughts

Dance Competition Etiquette

I’m in my 5th year of being a Competition Dance Dad.  Over the course of those 5 years I’ve noticed that the way people act at dance competitions has gotten progressively worse.

A lot of times it’s not the dance families displaying the rude behavior… it’s friends and extended family that might not know any better.   I thought I’d offer up some rules of etiquette for those new to dance competitions.

  1. Turn the ringer off on your phone (and the electronic devices you brought to entertain your kids).  A ringing phone is a big distraction for everyone.
  2. Turn the brightness down on your smartphones and tablets. Auditoriums are dark.  Having your device at full brightness is annoying.
  3. Only enter and move around between dances.
  4. When you find a seat sit down quickly.  We paid good money to watch our kids dance.  I’m not exactly sure how much.  See lesson #1 of Dance Dad 101.
  5. Keep your conversations down and only between dances and at breaks.
  6. Watch your comments.  You never know what studio or dancer those around you belong to.
  7. Find an appropriate place to take pictures.  Right outside the auditorium doors in the traffic flow is not a good place.
  8. If the competition says “no pictures or video” they mean no pictures or videos.  If they allow pictures make sure your flash is off.
  9. If you need to smoke do it in your car and not at the front of the building.

What did I miss? What would you add to this list?

Attending your 1st Dance Competition? Here's a few rules to follow! Click To Tweet

Empty Dance Stage


More Random Thoughts From A Dance Competition

Another dance competition weekend has come and gone.  Once again it was a fun time… and once again I had thoughts.  Lots of thoughts.  Here are a few:

  • You know you’re a Dance Dad when you’re up earlier on a weekend comp day than you are for a normal work day.
  • Hotel showers were not made for anyone over 6 feet tall.
  • Part of the fun of any dance competition is hanging with the other dance families during the downtime.
  • I wish I could eat a hotel breakfast every morning.
  • Why do dance comps/studios still use CD’s?
  • My daughter nailed her lyrical solo! My prop placement wasn’t bad either!
  • Kudos to whoever is playing the bumper music in between routines at today’s dance competition! Good mix of fun favorites.
  • Woo hoo! Made it to the first break & we’re 20 minutes ahead!
  • Lunch break at B-Dubs! I went from helping with props in the wings to eating wings.
  • I love wings!
  • Starbucks makes everything better.
  • Ouch! That music edit was done with a hatchet.
  • I like this awards announcer. Give the results, get in, get out, & move on.
  • Please ask yourself… is this prop really necessary?
  • Those wings at lunch were good.  We should get wings every comp weekend.
  • That lyrical routine gets me every time. #isitdustyinhere
  • Putting together a gigantic prop in a tiny space surrounded by a crowd of dancers isn’t easy but it’s kind of fun.
  • Made it 9 hours into today’s dance competition before “Dear Future Husband” was played. That’s a record this season!
  • I don’t care who you are if you include Run DMC’s “It’s Tricky” in your hip hop I will stop what I’m & watch you.
  • It’s physically impossible for me to stay still watching my youngest daughter’s group do their hip hop routine.
  • Loading the prop trailer is like a real world version of Tetris.
  • Yowza! Witnessed a dance mom verbal assault backstage. I thought stuff like that was only staged for TV. Apparently not.
  • Let’s quit goofing around and get on with the awards!
  • Only two hours from home. Let’s get some food and get going.
  • Whoever cooked this bacon on my burger did a great job. Perfect crispiness.
  • Thanks to the Waze app I know our pee break only added 8 minutes to our trip home.
  • Seriously, that was some really good bacon.
  • Finally! Home!
  • Finally! In bed!
  • I’m exhausted. Why can’t I sleep?
  • Is it wrong that I’m still thinking about the bacon on my burger?
  • Can’t wait to do this all again next weekend!

If you enjoyed these be sure and check out my thoughts from our first dance competition this season.

First to come last to leave


DDU Tip Of The Week: Label Makers

I’ll admit that my handwriting isn’t the neatest to look at.  Sure, it gets the job done and is fine for labeling ballet, clogging, and jazz shoes… but not so much for medals, ribbons, and trophies.

That’s where having a good label maker comes in handy.  You can label all your dancers awards in a neat and professional way.

Labeling dance ribbons and medals

What’s your best dance tip? Leave a comment and let me know. I may use in for an upcoming DDU Tip Of The Week!


You Know You’re A Dance Dad If…

Not sure if you qualify as a Dance Dad?  If you can relate to any of these you’re in the club!


You Know You’re A Dance Dad If…

  • You’ve ever shouted, “Stop clogging in the kitchen!”
  • You can tell the difference between lyrical, jazz, hip hop, tap, and clogging.
  • You’ve ever heard a song on the radio and thought, “This would make a great lyrical solo”.
  • You’ve bought your daughter black fish net tights.
  • You can tell the difference between your dancer and their friends even though they’re all wearing the same costume, have the same make-up, and their hair in a bun.
  • You know what a hairagami is and what it’s used for.
  • You’re asked to bring the tan jazz shoes to your dancer and you grab the right ones.
  • You’ve helped load and unload the studio prop trailer.
  • You finally understand how the awards process works.
  • You find feathers, glitter, and rhinestones in your car and it makes you smile.

Did I miss some?  Let me know in the comments and I might use them in a follow up “You Know You’re A Dance Dad, Part Two” post.

You know you're a #DanceDad if... Click To Tweet

Watching From The Wings

As a Prop Dad I’m backstage a lot at dance competitions.  It seems like there’s always something to do.  Whether it’s helping to load or unload the studio trailer, getting the next prop ready to go, or carrying it onstage.

Dance Dad tshirt

Being backstage means that when it’s time to see my girls and their friends dance I’m usually watching from the wings.  This might annoy some people but not me. I actually kind of enjoy it for a few different reasons.

There’s a certain kind of energy that you feel backstage and it effects every dancer different.  Some are quiet and reserved, concentrating on the upcoming dance.  Others are fidgety and just need to move.

The view from the wings is pretty good too, even if part of it is obstructed by a curtain or two.  That’s offset by the fact that you’re really close and get to view the dances from a different angle.

Watching a dance competition from the wings

Perhaps the thing I like most about watching from the wings is the immediate feedback you can give your dancer as they come off stage.  It’s usually a quick “good job” and a high five as they rush off to change into the next costume.

Do you ever end up watching from the wings? Is there something you like about it that I missed?



Top 10 Ways Our Studio Is NOT Like Dance Moms

If your only insight into competition dance is by watching the “reality” show Dance Moms your view is probably pretty distorted.  While our dancers have only been at one studio (for over 10 years) I can pretty much say with confidence that they aren’t all like the ALDC.

If your only insight into competition dance is watching Dance Moms your view is distorted. Click To Tweet

To help set the record straight I thought I’d share these:

Top 10 Ways Our Studio Is NOT Like Dance Mom

Top 10 Ways Our Studio Is NOT Like Dance Moms

  1. There is no pyramid and no dramatic revealing from week to week as to who is doing better.
  2. I’ve never seen our studio owner yell. Not at a student or a parent.
  3. We don’t change team jackets. I’ve lost count at the number of warm up jackets I’ve seen the ALDC dancers wear.
  4. We’ve got dedicated Dance/Prop Dads. I haven’t seen every episode of Dance Moms but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen any of the dads.
  5. We rarely compete outside of our home state.  When we do it’s for Nationals.
  6.  As Dance Parents we are truly supportive of all the dancers. Sure, we want our dancers to do well, but not at the expense of another dancer on our team.
  7. We don’t get our own private, spacious dressing room.  While I’ve never been in one, I’ve heard from my wife and daughters that they are usually cramped and sometimes pretty dark.
  8. Our team is much larger.  On the TV show you see 6-8 girls.  Our production number alone this year features 55 dancers!
  9.  I’ve never seen a parent yell at another parent.
  10. Our dancers look like they’re having fun… onstage and off!
How does your #dance studio differ from #DanceMoms? Click To Tweet

Random Thoughts From Our 1st Competition Of The Season

Our first dance competition of the season is in the books! All in all I would have to say it was a pretty good experience.  Over the course of the event I had many thoughts… several of which I will share with you here!

Random Thoughts From Our 1st Competition Of The Season
  1. 5am is early.  Really early!
  2. Getting a take-and-bake breakfast pizza was a great idea my oldest had.   We should do this again before the next competition.
  3. I’m glad I don’t ever have to wear fake eye lashes.
  4. Was our Dream Duffel this heavy last year?
  5. Being the first dance of the day has to be tough.
  6. Having to haul around a big prop for my oldest’s solo is a pain but it was so worth it. She was amazing!
  7. How many dances is that kid in? I can’t imagine how much their parents are shelling out this weekend.
  8. There’s usually 1 dancer that stands out in every number. Sometimes its for a good reason (great facial expressions or just being really good). Other times it’s for not so good of reason (they were a little off, lost a piece of their costume, lacked confidence, etc.).
  9. I’ve noticed 2 styles of hip hop.  I call them “street” and “Grandma approved”.
  10. Wow! We made it to the first break and they’re ahead of schedule? How did that happen?
  11. People can be so rude! Follow the rules. When you enter the auditorium during a performance you let in light which can be distracting. Enter between songs.
  12. Second time today hearing Dear Future Husband. Hope it’s the last time.
  13. I really respect studios & dancers that aren’t afraid to dance to Christian music.
  14. Hey buddy… that’s someone’s prop not a chair. How about you get off it?
  15. Walking tacos are pretty good. We should make taco salads with Doritos at home some time. Walking taco and a diet Mountain Dew
  16. Note to self: do a better distribution with the walking taco ingredients next time so the last 5 bites aren’t all chips.
  17. We made it to lunch and haven’t heard Titanium yet. How is this possible?
  18. I love being around our Dance Family! They rock.
  19. That music edit was bad. Really bad.
  20. Loading the prop trailer is like a real world game of Tetris.
  21. What time is it? Seriously, dance comps really are like Vegas. You lose all track of time.
  22. I wonder how long it took them to get their hair like that.
  23. What’s up with the sound on this song? It’s like they recorded it off the radio onto a cassette tape.
  24. That was a really well done, emotional piece. Glad it’s dark so you can’t see the tiny tear in the corner of my eye.
  25. It is hot in here. I know it’s February… in Iowa… but can we turn on the air conditioning?
  26. I’m farther in Candy Crush than the people around me that are playing right now.
  27. Dear Future Husband is going to be this year’s Titanium.
  28. Our studio started the season strong! Can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings!
  29. Not bad. Only 12 hours at the venue this time.

First to come last to leave


13 Ways Dance Competitions Are Like A Weekend in Vegas

At our last dance competition I realized the experience had a lot of similarities to a trip to Las Vegas! Here’s how:

* They both can be expensive.

*There’s usually travel involved and overnight stays.

*You spend lots of time planning and preparing and it’s over before you know it.

*You only need to pack one bag for each… a carry-on for Vegas and a Dream Duffel for dance.

*Fancy costumes, glitter, lots of make-up, and fake eyelashes.


*You lose track of time.

*Your eating and sleeping schedules get all out of whack.

*Some will leave smiling, some disappointed, and many just happy for the experience.

*There’s no money left in your wallet when it’s all over.

*You’re going to need a few days to recover from each.

*They’re best experienced with friends.

*You’ll look back on both and wouldn’t trade the time for anything.

Did I miss some? How do you think dance competitions are like a weekend in Las Vegas? Leave a comment and let me know.


Dance Dad 101

The original version of this post appeared on my other blog: Faith, Family, and Technology.

Dance Dad 101

I’m a Dance Dad.  Have been for a couple years now.  Being a first time Dance Dad can be confusing and intimidating.  With that in mind I put together the following tips to help new Dance Dads out.

Lets get the money discussion out of the way first.  It’s best to let your wife handle all the dance finances.  Dance isn’t cheap. There’s lessons, costumes, entry fees, and travel, meal, and hotel expenses.  Trust me, you’ll enjoy it more if you don’t know the exact amount you’re spending.  I do know if my girls didn’t dance I’d drive a newer truck than the 1997 model I have now.

Get a Dream Duffel.  Think of it as a mobile closet on wheels. They are expensive but worth it and will help keep everything organized.  Everything your dancers will need can fit inside meaning you’ll only need to worry about one bag.  There’s even an insulated pouch to keep water and snacks cold. My girls have the large one and when it’s all set up it’s bigger than my closet.

Dream Duffel set up

This is our first season with a Dream Duffel and I can tell you it’s been our most stress free season.  Go with a plain black one so you won’t feel awkward pulling it around.  Your wife and daughters can “bling” out the patches.  One benefit to not going crazy on the customization is it will make it easier to sell when you no longer need it.

Print off a schedule of the dance weekend and keep it with you.  Also, be sure to enter the time your daughter dances into your smartphone… just in case you lose your hard copy.  Make sure you double and triple check everything.  One time I read the schedule wrong and was late for awards.  Big mistake.

Competitions can last all day and your eating schedule will be sporadic so make sure you get a good breakfast.  You’ll also want to have plenty of snacks packed.  Something your dancer can eat without the risk of getting their costume dirty.  We like to pack cheese and beef sticks, pretzels, dried fruit, beef jerky, yogurt tubes and squeezable applesauce pouches.

On dance day your job is to stay out of the way and do whatever is needed.  Don’t make suggestions unless asked.  Your job is to keep the stress level down.  Make sure your vehicle is gassed up and ready to go.

Never comment on a costume until you know how your dancer feels about it.  I made that mistake once.  My daughter was showing me a new costume she got that night at rehearsal.  I said it kind of looked liked a penguin.  Turns out my daughter wasn’t a big fan of the costume and my comment didn’t help.  Now, I’ve learned to say something like, “Nice. How does it fit? Do you like it?”  Based on the response I’ll then know what comments of mine would be best.

You might get a lump in your throat watching your daughter dance. Watching your daughter dance can be emotional… especially if you’re watching a lyrical routine. The right combination of costume, music, lyrics, and lack of sleep can make your eyes a little misty.

Stay for the awards even if they’re really late.  It’s part of the experience and a great bonding time for the team.

The awards will confuse you.  Once you have it figured out they’ll change it on you.  At one competition the top award might be a platinum.  Next competition it could be a diamond.  It’d be nice if they could all agree on a system.  Gold, silver, and bronze work for the Olympics and could work for dancing too.

You will be annoyed by the emcee of the awards.  They almost always think they’re super cool. What they fail to realize is that we could care less about them.  It’s the results on the paper they are holding that we want.

Get to know the other Dads.  You’ll have plenty of downtime between dances.  Chances are they are feeling the same way you are.

It’s also a good idea to invest in an extended battery for your smartphone.  That way you’ll have all the power you need to take pictures, post Facebook updates, and play Candy Crush.  The one I have makes it all day with plenty of juice left.

Give the dance instructor positive feedback on the choreography and costumes.  Ours has always had age appropriate costumes and dance moves. I’ve thanked her for that several times.  I’ve seen some dancers on other teams wearing things and dancing in a way that I wouldn’t want my daughters to dance like at their age.

Hopefully I haven’t scared you off from having your child take part in dance.  It might seem like a lot of work and stress but it really is a great activity for kids.  They learn teamwork and that hard work can pay off.  One of my daughter’s instructors has even gone over how math is used in planning choreography.  Dance will also help with their self confidence and self esteem.  It’s also a great physical activity.

If you are a new Dance Dad and have questions let me know.  If you’ve been a Dance Dad for years and have some tips of your own leave a comment.  Dance Moms you can chime in too.



I’ve been to plenty of dance competitions over the past few years.  At every one they have announced (and put in the program) that anyone caught taking pictures puts a team at risk of being disqualified.

I get that.  Part of the way a competition makes money is by selling videos and still shots of each performance.  It also protects studios and instructors from others “borrowing” their choreography.

Part of every competition ritual for our family includes reviewing the photos of each routine.  Sometimes, if there’s a good picture we’ll buy it.

This past competition season I noticed people taking their own pictures and videos.  Not just a quick picture with a smartphone.  We’re talking using a nice camera to take several pictures throughout a performance.

Taking pictures didn’t effect the final outcomes at award time.  Several routines where I saw people taking pictures won top honors.

How do you feel about this?  Does it make you mad?  Do you secretly snap pics?  Ever known a studio to get DQ’d because of someone taking pictures?   I’d be interested in your thoughts.