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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