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.


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.


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!


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.

18 thoughts on “Body Odor at Dance Events

  1. Thank you for this, but unfortunately it never really works. Those of us short follows who are perpetually at armpit level always have to just grin and bear it.

  2. As someone who goes to a workout where I am the only guy (Zumba) and, hence, very conscious of whether I may be malodorous or may become such during the course of the work out, I have to disagree and say that measures especially deodorant and maybe a powder that helps with persperation (talc) do help. Now to that end, there are some deodorants that work better than others at preventing and/or blocking smell and there are some that when they break down smell better than others.

    Now the question is.. how do you kindly let someone know that they may want to try some of these changes?


  4. I’m completely paranoid about it – I’ve always got a thing of mints handy, and if it’s an all-day thing I reapply deodorant a couple of times.
    But there is nothing worse than being somewhere where one person’s funk can ruin everyone’s good time. Unless it’s their way of making sure they get plenty of floor.

  5. This is very important, but as mentioned above it only takes a few small things to ensure body odor doesn’t interfere. Washing / bathing / showering before hand and wearing clean clothes are both important and there is little or no weight in chewing gum / mints, deodorant, after shave / perfume and a change of shirt or two.

  6. Also it is possible that if you are sweaty and stinky that it rubs off on someone else. Don’t make your dance partners stinky too.

  7. One thing worth mentioning here is the area to which we apply the deodorant. Our body secretes the odours in an area approximately twice as large as is covered by hair growth. In other words, put that deodorant over an area about the size of a dress pad or approximately nine inches long.
    Another is that not all deodorants are created equal. For ladies, I can highly recommend Secret. At the same time I would dissuade the use of Dove brand as it just doesn’t work well on the odour.

  8. How would someone let the malodorous offender know? Has anyone ever done that before? Was the smelly person able to do something about it? Or, do most people just grin and bear it?

    1. I know someone in our dance community approached another dancer about this issue and he was upset at first, but then he realized that she was trying to help him. I think it was more “We really want to dance with you, but…” rather than a “you smell” kind of approach.

      1. The fact that you know about it disturbs me. It’s distasteful to “help” someone with their body odor then blab about it to other people at the dance.

      2. There wasn’t any “blabbing,” it’s something that several community leaders discussed how to handle appropriately and then one of the dancers approached him privately. We care about this person and wanted to avoid any public embarrassment, to the extent that it can be avoided in a situation like this.

  9. The breath can be really offensive. There is something my friends and I call the “no-floss breath stink” that gum and mouthwash cannot mask. Brushing is not enough! Flossing is really really important to keep the breath fresh.

  10. I have been told 2x now in my career that clients are bothered by my smell. I have never been told at dances. Now I’m wondering. I’m allergic to most deodorants, so the only one that works is one that is scented w/ ess oils. It pretty much wears off w/in 20 min or so. I was told by some of my students that they were nicknaming me & calling me manly cuz of the scent (I am a girl). I have major digestive problems so I know my breath isn’t always the best, so I’m always flossing.

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