Northwestern Ballroom Latin and Swing Team

About Competitions

BLAST travels to numerous competitions each quarter. These are a great opportunity for you to show off what you’ve been learning in classes! Competitions are divided up by level, so newcomers (less than one year of experience) compete against other newcomers, bronze competes only with bronze dancers, and so forth.

What are competitions like?

We will usually leave for a competition the Friday afternoon/evening before. If it isn’t too far away, we will be able to make the Friday night social dance which is usually offered. This is a great way to get to know dancers outside the Northwestern team. Competitions usually start around 7:30 or 8 am on Saturday and run all day. You will be called to go out onto the floor for each of the styles with around 10-20 of your fellow competitors (one dance/group of dances is called a “heat”). There may be more than one heat per round, depending on the number of competitors in the level. The judges will recall about half of the people on the floor for the next round. This will continue until only a few couples remain (usually 6-8 couples) who will be placed by the judges. Unlike “Dancing with the Stars” you will never be out on the floor alone, so there really isn’t any reason to be nervous!

Costs: The rules for collegiate ballroom are designed to keep costs low. Entry fees are usually $30-$40 per person. We usually take vans to competitions. BLAST covers the cost of the rental from university motor pool, but individuals are required to split the cost of gas for their van (exact cost obviously depends on destination, but usually ranges between $15-$25). Our competition captains will be providing food (usually snacks, sandwiches, gatorade, etc) so team members are asked to pitch in for food costs (usually about $10). If we stay in a hotel, we try to fit as many people as possible in one room (it helps keeps costs down and build team spirit!) so hotel costs usually are below $20. If we can find crash space with the host team or a family of the Northwestern team or drive up the day of, there are no hotel costs. Since ballgowns and tailsuits aren’t allowed until the upper levels, you can usually find something already in your closet to wear. With everything said and done, a competition usually costs between $55 and $95.

What should I wear for a competition?

Leads: For the syllabus levels, leads are required to wear dark pants (typically black, although if absolutely necessary dark blue is acceptable) for both standard and latin. For standard, a white shirt with a black vest and tie is pretty ubiquitous. For latin, a long sleeved black shirt is required- many guys opt to wear an underarmour shirt which is a little more fitted for the “latin look”. Guy’s hair should be neat; it is a good idea to wear gel, and if you have long hair, to pull it back into a pony-tail.

Follows: For the syllabus levels, follows usually wear a long skirt/dress for standard, and a short dress/skirt for latin. Homecoming dresses are a popular choice, although make sure that you can move in it (no tight skirts, etc). A leotard and skirt also are good choices. Girls often opt to wear flesh colored fishnets for latin. Costumes with sparkly things (rhinestones, sequins, etc) are not allowed until gold or open, depending on the competition. Hair should be pulled back; buns are popular because they keep your hair from smacking your partner. You should be wearing more makeup than you think: remember, the judges will be looking at you from across the floor (often a basketball court!). We will be doing a workshop on hair and makeup before the competition, and often you can find a team member to help you out, so don’t stress out too much about it!

What if my partner can’t go to a particular competition?

If one partner cannot attend a competition, but the other partner still wants to go, let us know! Usually, we can work something out! Even if you’ve only been dancing for a few weeks, competitions can still be tons of fun!

2015-2016 Competitions

The following regional competitions are scheduled for the 2013-2014 academic year. You may opt to attend as many or as few of these as you like!

10 Green & White Gala (Lansing, MI)
24 Purdue Ballroom Classic (West Lafayette, IN)
30-Nov 1 Chicago Dancesport Challenge (Chicago, IL)

7 Badger Ballroom Dancesport Classic (Madison, WI)
21-22 National Collegiate Dancesport Championships (Columbus, Ohio)

30 ValpComp (Valparaiso, IN)

5-6 Arnold Youth Dancesport Classic (Columbus, OH)

2 Irish Dancesport Gala (Notre Dame)