Tag Archives: smell

Taking Care of Your Dance Shoes

cobbler

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

Our dance hobby is relatively light on equipment – all you really need is a good pair of dance shoes. Once you find that pair (or 20) you want to be able to wear them for as long as possible, get the most mileage out of them, but you also want them to look nice for as long as possible. Here are some tips on keeping your shoes in shape:

Air Out

We get sweaty when we dance and gravity tends to pull things downward, including your sweat. There have been those nights after a dance where my socks are a puddle. Rather than stuffing your shoes away or leaving them in a bag, when you get home from the dance take them out and just let them sit overnight. A good airing out will do wonders for longevity and odor prevention.

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For more advanced airing out, you can purchase unvarnished shoe trees to draw the moisture out of your leather shoes, so long as you get the trees into the shoes within an hour or two of removing your shoes. If your shoes are really wet, stuffing them with newspaper will help draw out the moisture. Be sure not to put them on a heater or heat dry them, as this can damage the leather and/or the bonding material.

Wash Your Feet and Your Socks

While I rarely wear out dance shoes, I have had to throw away a pair of shoes for the smell (leather wedges, how I love to wear thee without socks!). To help prevent smelly shoes, in general, it’s a good idea to make sure your feet are clean and that your socks are cleaner – just say no to wearing that same pair of socks all day and night and late night at an event. Bring a change of socks and, if you happen to have smelly-prone feet or a predilection for walking around barefoot between dances, take a moment to wash your feet before inserting them back into your dance shoes.

This must be the coolest kid in her ballet class.

This must be the coolest kid in the ballet class.

Bag Them

It’s a good idea to put your dance shoes in a small shoe bag or another type of small bag before slinging them into another bag, your car, your suitcase, or whatever vessel gets you and them to the dance. It protects their exterior from scuffing up against other things (ballpoint pens, food, sharp objects, etc.) that may be lurking in your bag that could damage the exterior of your shoes. Bagging your shoes also conveniently serves the purpose of protecting your other things from the shoes, which may be dusty from the dance floor. I like to put mine either sole to sole or top to top and then wrap the rest of the loose bag around them like a burrito to make sure they are secure, then put them in my bag for the night.

Repair

I firmly believe everyone should have a cobbler. I don’t know how I would live without mine – I’ve had heels pop off, soles come loose, and giant patches of color scraped from the toe of a shoe by a wayward leader’s giant foot. A visit to the cobbler means that these things can be repaired by replacement, re-gluing/nailing, and I actually had to have a pair of shoes entirely re-colored because there was no polish of that color – but I did it and it meant spending $20 to have them fixed rather than $160 for a new pair. If your shoes are smelly, have your cobbler replace the insole to see if that helps with the odor. I have rarely encountered a shoe problem that could not be addressed, or at least improved, by a cobbler in some fashion.

Resole

Soles getting thin? Cracked? Coming apart? Or maybe you just want a different sole – talk to your cobbler about your options.

My dad has had one of these mega shoe shine kits with the swanky wooden box for as long as I can remember.  When you have to special order extra narrow shoes, replacing them can get expensive.  I used to consider it a privilege to sit down with my dad and help him polish his shoes (is that weird?) and I always loved the results - shiny!

My dad has had one of these mega shoe shine kits with the swanky wooden box for as long as I can remember. When you have to special order extra narrow shoes, replacing them can get expensive. I used to consider it a privilege to sit down with my dad and polish his shoes (is that weird?) and I always loved the results – shiny!

Polish, Shine, Brush, and/or Dye

How to spruce up your shoes is going to depend on the type of material.

If you have leather shoes, polishing them is good not only for keeping them shiny and new looking, but also for preserving the leather and keeping it supple – the salt in your sweat can dry out the leather over time. Cobblers, grocery stores, and other retailers have shoe polish kits that you can buy to help you with the materials and instructions you may need. If you can’t find the right color polish locally, you may have to hit the internet (so many colors!) or get creative to cover those scuffs – I discovered that Gold Sharpies are almost the exact same gold as the Re-Mix Balboas in gold, I just color over the scuff and rub the color in with my finger.

For suede shoes, there are specific materials – you can get a suede eraser to touch up scuffs and a suede brush will restore the nap of the leather.

If you love white Keds, you know that by sueding them you can’t just throw them in the wash when they get dirty. You can use a tablespoon of baking soda and just a bit of water to make a paste and rub it onto the more noticeable spots, then wipe clean.

Then there’s that whole bit about cleaning the white mesh Aris Allen oxfords with Windex…

Finally, some shoes are made of dyeable materials, so if they are just beyond hope you could always make them a different color. Beth Grover at V is for Vintage has a great tutorial on how to dye your Aris Allen oxfords.

Buy More Than One Pair

I know I’m going to get resistance from some people on this one, but you should own more than one pair of dance shoes, especially if you are Lindy Hopping multiple nights a week. You want your shoes to last longer and to give them time to breathe between wearings, which is why it’s not a good idea to wear the same pair of shoes every day. You also want your feet to stay limber and not put repeated pressure on the same areas of the foot with a certain pair of shoes, which is another good reason to rotate dance shoes. Different shoes use different muscles and we want to keep our muscles in good condition so we can dance for as long as possible. :)

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Body Odor at Dance Events

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

I am sad to report this, but the biggest offense at this year’s Eastern Balboa Championships was body odor. Numerous people made unsolicited comments about the ripe smell of mostly gentlemen, but also some ladies, who were taking classes (with the exception of the Masters class, but by then you have probably mastered many things, including your body odor at dance events).

This can be a very sensitive topic for people, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to be aware of your smell at dances because it can make for an unpleasant experience for others around you and, in turn, can make for an unpleasant night of dancing for you when others react or pretend not to react to your smell.

This all has little to do with shopping, but there are some things you can do, things that you can purchase, and things that you can wear that can make a difference in your odor throughout the night. We are all sweating out there on the dance floor, it’s inevitable that the room we dance in will end up smelling like a locker room when we are done; however, it’s when your personal smell overpowers the general musk of the room that there is a need to address the issue.

It is important to take both preventative and continuing measures to ensure that you remain a viable partner throughout the dance or dance event.

Ask yourself, do I smell?

As soon as I smell something I immediately assume it’s me. I’m the closest person to me, shouldn’t I be able to smell myself? Do an armpit check. DO IT. I have, on occasion, forgotten to wear deodorant. It happens. I always keep deodorant in my purse, so I run to the bathroom and apply/reapply liberally. I also sometimes ask a close friend to tell me if I smell. He/she will be honest about your odor because this is an important question.

This cat is making stink face because he senses your odor from across the dance floor.

Bathe

Yes, showering takes time away from workshops/hanging out/meals/dances/late night, but if you have sweated and are sitting in that sweat for a period of 24 hours at an event, chances are you probably smell a little. It’s natural. This is where you consider that others around you may not want to smell you. If you are at home with your BFF playing video games and eating Cheetos all weekend, you probably don’t have to bathe, but then that friend probably isn’t touching you or getting in your personal space. You are dancing with friends and strangers at an event in very close proximity, especially at Balboa events. Please be considerate, take a moment to check your funk level (sniff or ask a friend), and do try to take a bath at least once per 24 hour period. Even a bird bath can help.

Deodorant is your friend

Please wear deodorant. Reapply if necessary.

Change shirts/clothes

If you have worn the same pair of pants all weekend, that may be the source of the smell. Most dancers who have been doing this for a while know that they will need to bring at least one outfit per day, if not more, and most leads know that they will need several changes of shirts throughout the dance. It’s not just about the dampness, it’s also about the smell. You may also want to consider a bird bath for the armpits (and dry them afterwards) with paper towels in the bathroom between shirt changes to wipe away the bacteria, and/or perhaps check at that point to see if you should reapply deodorant.

Diet

You are what you eat and you may smell like what you ate for dinner – try to eat more fruits and veggies and try to eat less meats and greasy food. Avoid onions and garlic – they can affect your breath and your odor, a double whammy. Also, stay hydrated!

Perfumes

This goes to the other end of the spectrum – the overpowering smells aren’t always body odor, so please be mindful of how potent your perfume is at dance events. Most of the female complaints I heard at EBC were perfume-related. If you are using bath products that smell nice and are using deodorant, this is probably enough smelly goodness that you won’t need a perfume. If you are trying to mask the odor, perhaps it’s time to reapply the deo or take a bath.

Clothing Choices

Wear clothing that allows your skin to breathe, i.e. natural fibers (cotton, linen, silk, wool – yes, wool).

While I am certain this is not a comprehensive list, I am hopeful that it is a start – let’s do try to make an effort to keep our personal odor to a minimal level so that we can all enjoy the dance.