Category Archives: Tips

DDU Tip Of The Week: Makeshift Night Stand

I discovered this week’s tip of the week by accident. We’re out of town staying at a hotel for a weekend dance competition and I was frustrated by the lack of a night stand by my side of the bed.

I surveyed the room looking for something that would work. Just as I was about to give up our Dream Duffel caught my eye. More specifically the stools sticking out of the side pocket.

Turns out a Dream Duffel stool is the perfect size and height for a makeshift night stand!

Dream Duffel stool night stand.jpg

Check out this #DanceDad hack! Click To Tweet
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Product Review: RAVPower 16750mAh Deluxe Portable Charger

As a Dance Dad, one of the things I carry in my backpack on dance competition weekends is a portable battery pack.  That way I’ll have more than enough juice for pre/post performance pics, sharing results with friends on Facebook, and tweeting random thoughts about the competition.

With an external battery back you can recharge your phone without being tethered to a wall.  My battery pack of choice is the RAVPower 16750mAh Deluxe Portable Charger.

A battery pack like this would also come in handy during storm season if we lose power.  It’ll also be nice when we go camping or spending the weekend at a softball tournament.

I didn’t get free product and am not getting paid for this review.  It’s just me and my opinion.  If you do click on the links included and purchase this from Amazon you’ll get the same price as everyone else but I’ll make a small commission.  Any money I make I use to offset my yearly web hosting fees.

RAVPower 16750mAh Deluxe Portable Charger

Inside the box you get the portable charger, instructions, a carrying pouch, and 2 micro/usb cables (one longer than the other).

RavPower Battery Pack

The carrying pouch is useful for protecting the pack when not in use and keeping all your cords with it.

RavPower Battery Pack In Pouch

My first impression is that I liked the the size and quality of the charger.  It’s got a good, compact size and isn’t as heavy as I thought it would be.  It’s about the same weight as a can of pop.  Not something I’d want to carry around in my pocket all day but nothing you’d notice in a backpack or purse.

RavPower Battery Pack Compared To Coke Can

It doesn’t come with it’s own charger (although they do sell them) but if you have an Android phone you can just use that charger to charge the unit.  I used my Nexus 6 turbo charger.  Even with that, it took at least 12 hours to fully charge up the RAVPower.

The RAVPower has 2 charging ports so you can charge two devices at the same time.  There’s even a handy LED flashlight.

RavPower Battery Pack Flashlight

There are 4 blue LED lights on the top of the unit that correspond to the amount of charge it has left: 25% per light.  So if all 4 are lit up it’s fully charged.

RavPower Battery Pack Fully Charged

To put it to the test I thought I’d start the week with my Nexus 6 at full power and see how far I’d make it only charging it with the RAVPower unit.

RavPower Battery Pack Charging Nexus 6

Here are the results:

Monday – Phone battery at 100% at 7:30am.

Tuesday at 8:40am – Phone battery was at 39% and was fully powered to 100% at 10:30.

Wednesday at 6:20am – Phone battery was at 39% and was fully powered to 100% at 8:10am.

Thursday at 6am – Phone battery was at 36% and was fully powered to 100% at 7:50am.

Friday at 9:20am- Phone battery was at 40% and was fully powered to 100% at 11am.

Saturday at 9:30am – Phone battery was at 31% and was fully powered to 100% at 11:30am.

By this time the blue indicator light on the RAVPower 16750mAh Deluxe Portable Charger was flashing meaning it was about out of juice.  I tried squeezing a little bit more out of it on Sunday but only got my phone battery to go from 40% to 43% before there was nothing left in the external charger.

So, I got 6 full days of use out of my phone and 5 charges from the RAVPower 16750mAh Deluxe Portable Charger. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Based off these results there’s no doubt in my mind that if I was careful with my usage I could get a full week out of my phone charging it with only this portable charger.

It certainly has more than enough juice to get me (and my daughters’ iPhone & iPad Mini 4) through a weekend dance competition, a few days camping, or a ball tournament.

For the price and performance I’ve experienced with the RAVPower 16750mAh Deluxe Portable Charger I have no problem recommending it to you!

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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!

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DDU Tip Of The Week: Controlling Bobby Pins

Bobby pins!  I don’t know how they do it but they tend to multiply and show up everywhere: on the floor, in the couch, under the couch, the bathroom counter.  I have even found them in the refrigerator.

Unlike Legos, bobby pins don’t hurt when you step on them but they do make a nasty sound when sucked up by the vacuum cleaner. Sort of a grinding rattle that would scare any pet or small child and make you wonder if your vacuum cleaner will ever be the same.

While I can’t offer some form of bobby pin birth control to stop them from reproducing I can share a simple and cheap way to help try and keep them under control.

Use empty Tic Tac containers.  Tic Tac containers are the perfect size to hold your average bobby pin. I keep one in my car and another one by my chair.

Bobby pins in an empty Tic Tac container

That way whenever I find a stray bobby pin, which is a weekly if not daily occurrence, I have a place to put it.  When the container gets full I give it to one of my daughters and start a new one.  You could even keep one full of safety pins of various sizes.

Keeping a Tic Tac container full of bobby pins in your Dance Dad Comp Day Survival Bag isn’t a bad idea either.  It could save your dancer or wife a frantic trip back to the changing room to get some.

Check out this simple and cheap way to control bobby pins! Click To Tweet
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DDU Tip Of The Week: Song Lists

Once your dancer starts competing, chances are, they’re going to want to do a solo (or team up with some friends to do a duet or trio). If your studio is like ours your dancer will get a big say in the solo song they dance to.

Choosing the right song is important.  It has to be one your dancer loves and can connect to.  It also has to be one that the choreographer can work with.  Finally, it has to be one that you as a dance parent don’t mind… because you’ll be hearing it a lot for the better part of a year!

In order to help narrow down the song choices it’s good to keep a running list of your options.

I’d suggest keeping the list digitally in an app on your smartphone that you can also access on the web.  Something like Google Keep, Google Docs, Evernote, or a simple document you save to Box or Dropbox will work.

The reason you want the list accessible on your phone is you want it available when inspiration strikes.  Hear a song on the radio you think might work? Add it to the list.  At a comp and hear a unique cover version? Add it to the list.

You can even add bands or artists to the list.  If you see a great performance to a unique cover song Google the singer.  Chances are they’ll have other cool versions of familiar songs too.

When my oldest is really on the hunt for a solo song she’ll email YouTube links of songs she likes.  I add those to the list.  You can add your own YouTube links too.

You can also remove songs from the list throughout the season if you notice they’re being overused or your dancer decides it’s not a good fit for them.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a personal resource your dancer can draw from when it’s time to choose a solo song.

Narrow down solo song choices for your dancer with this DDU Tip Of The Week! Click To Tweet

DDU Tip of the week - Song Lists

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DDU Tip Of The Week: Food and Competitions

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Dance competitions can be stressful… for everyone, not just the dancers.

As parents we stress about stuff on dance day too.  Making sure we have everything, getting to the venue on time, and keeping our dancers happy and healthy are just a few of the things that can increase our stress levels.

One of the best ways to avoid/minimize some stress is to look ahead and have a plan when it comes to eating.  Sure, you’ll want to have some quick snacks on hand for both you and your dancers but you’ll also want to have an actual meal plan too.

When you get the competition weekend schedule look for significant time chunks between dances and awards where you can break for food.  Once you’ve found those times now research your food options.

The last thing you want is to be trying to figure out where to get a bite to eat at 10:12pm (or later) once final awards are handed out.

As part of your research take note of which restaurants are open late,  their phone numbers, if they deliver, and their online menu.

This way you can decide where you’ll head to eat as you’re rolling your Dream Duffel to the car… instead of starting the research process from scratch while everyone is hangry.

Hangry, adj. - Being so hungry that you become angry. Click To Tweet

Burger and Fries

I’ve looked ahead and have already narrowed down our food options for our remaining dance competitions this season.

One easy and economical food option available in almost every competition town we go to is Jimmy John’s.  This is a great option for lunch for several reasons.

    1. It’s a sandwich place.  Who doesn’t like sandwiches?
  1. As their advertising suggests they are “freaky fresh and freaky good”.
  2. Everyone can look at their menu ahead of time and you can easily order by number. (I’ll take a #9 with peppers)
  3. They deliver! You won’t even need to leave the venue.
  4. If you want to leave you can call ahead and have it waiting when you get there.

By the way, I’m not on the Jimmy John’s payroll, they’ve just been really convenient for us several times on dance weekends.  But Jimmy John’s if you do want to sponsor our family let me know. I’m sure we can work something out 😉

By doing a little research and planning ahead you can help reduce/eliminate one source of dance competition weekend stress.

What tips do you have for staying fed during competitions? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear your ideas!

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Dance Dad Comp Day Survival Bag

The night before a competition while my wife and daughters are packing up our Dream Duffel I’m busy packing my own bag. Sometimes it’s a drawstring bag, other times its a backpack, but the contents are usually the same.

I take along a few things to help make competition days a little easier.  These are just a few of the things you’ll find in my bag.

Dance Dad Competition Day Survival Bag

Dance Dad Comp Day Survival Bag

Cash – Most days I rarely carry cash but it’s good to have on comp days.  Makes it easier for vending machines, concession stands, and merchandise tables.  The first thing I buy on comp days with cash is a program. I get it while my wife and girls are setting up in the dressing room.

A bottle of water – I tell my daughters to stay hydrated and figure I should take my own advice.

Breath mints & gum – No one wants coffee breath!

Snacks – Comp day eating schedules get way out of whack.  It’s good to have some things for you and your dancers to snack on throughout the day.  I like to bring some breakfast bars and beef jerky (another reason to have mints).

Portable phone charger – This will allow you to charge your phone throughout the day without the inconvenience of being a “wall hugger”.  You don’t want to find yourself with a dead battery at the end of the day unable to snap a team photo and share it to Facebook.

A hard copy of the schedule – I put all our daughter’s dances in our online calendars so my wife and I have instant access to them on our phones but I also like a hard copy.  Each daughter’s dances get highlighted in a different color.

A couple pens – The last thing you want is a pen that doesn’t work when you’re trying to write down award results in the program. Having a few extra pens in your bag doesn’t hurt.

A mini flashlight – Sometimes they keep the auditorium dark for the awards so it can be hard to see and write results in the program. You could use the flashlight on your phone but this helps saves phone battery and doesn’t take up much space.

A book or magazine – You’re probably going to have some downtime during the day so having something to read isn’t a bad idea.

Another benefit to having a Dance Dad Comp Day Survival Bag is you can use it to store the things your dancer hands you to hold on to.  Phones, iPads, Tic Tac containers full of bobby pins, bluetooth speakers, team jackets… these are just some of the things I usually end up keeping track of.

This year I’ve also taken to bringing along a mini tool bag to keep in the van.  It’s filled with duct tape, E600, cordless drill, screw drivers, hammer, and a few other tools that would be helpful in case of a “prop emergency”.

That’s what’s in my Dance Dad Comp Day Survival Bag. What’s in yours?

Be prepared with a Dance Dad Comp Day Survival Bag! Click To Tweet
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DDU Tip Of The Week: Stay Organized With A Pop-up Hamper

We pay a lot for dance costumes. (At least I think we do.  I honestly don’t know.  It’s better that I don’t. See the first part of Dance Dad 101 ).  So it’s good to stay organized to keep from ruining them or losing some of their pieces.

This DDU Tip Of The Week we discovered by accident.  Last year the production number our studio did required a couple of really quick changes.  I mean really quick.  The kind where the dancers had barely enough time. There was no room for error.

To help with the process they each had a basket waiting offstage with the clothes they were changing into setting next to it.  That way they could toss the items they were removing into the basket.  It kept everyone’s costumes from getting mixed up during the change.

While some of the dancers opted for your standard square laundry basket, we went with a collapsible, pop-up hamper so it could fold up and easily fit into our Dream Duffel.

Dance pop-up hamper

It worked so well during that production quick change that my wife and daughters now set it up next to our Dream Duffel on competition days for the same reason.  It helps them stay organized during quick changes and keeps costume/hair pieces from getting lost.

How do you stay organized on competition days?

Stay organized on #dance competition days with this tip! #dancecomp Click To Tweet
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DDU Tip Of The Week: Remembering Styles & Sizes

If you haven’t figured it out yet, as a dance parent there is a lot to remember.

There are practice times, the different costumes (and everything that goes with them), all the competitions and dates… the only way I remember it all is to stay organized.

One of the ways I do that is by taking pictures of the styles and sizes of the tights my daughters wear.  That way when they need new tights and I’m tasked to get them I just pull out my phone and show the dance shop owner what I need.

The first time I did it the woman helping me said, “I wish all Dads did that! It would make my job so much easier!”

Transition Tights PackageDDU Tip Of The Week: Remembering Styles & Sizes Click To Tweet

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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.

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