Anya Brodech is a professional salsa, Latin, swing, and ballroom dance teacher in Oakland, CA.
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After having listened to countless complaints, both from men and women about guys who go to dance without practicing good hygiene, I realized that it was time to inform these uninformed individuals. I hope this article isn't too harsh, but it's very honest and will serve as an invaluable lesson for men. No one will admit any of these things to your face, like that you smell really bad, or that women have to go to the bathroom and wash their arms up to their shoulders because you rubbed your sweat off on them while dancing. However, these offended individuals (and on-lookers) will gossip and complain about it behind your back. So please, follow this advice and don't end up being that guy.
Here is a good list of 10 steps that you should follow in preparation to go out to dance salsa anywhere, whether it's a group class, private lesson, social dancing at dance studio, bar, or nightclub. And don't worry, they're all female/beautiful lady approved, trust me, I have literally have like 75+ women to back me up on all of these points. Not to mention, I also have about 25+ men who have admitted and told me about their personal hygiene habits and complained about other guys.
Obviously, I'm not going to name names, so no one gets upset or in trouble. We all know who's guilty, who's innocent, and the fact that we all gossip and complain about the men and women who aren't desirable to dance with because of some personal hygiene issue. However, it doesn't change the fact that this information is generally agreed upon by the majority of the dance community. Unless you find yourself a new majority of successful dancers that are regularly involved in the dance community that disagrees with this advice, I highly recommend that you follow it. Trust me, it will make all of this much easier and take a lot of the guesswork out of it.
That being said, gentlemen, if you want people (specifically us beautiful ladies) to dance with you happily without making us suffer through offensive element of hygiene that you've failed to practice, then please, please, please follow this 10-step hygiene checklist.
1. Take a Shower
Take a shower and wash yourself with some soap so you'll be nice and fresh and clean; just rinsing yourself off with water doesn't count (that's right, we ladies know). Dousing yourself with a can of body spray or rubbing an air freshener on you doesn't count either, and if anything it makes it worse because now you smell like sweat AND a lethal amount of body spray. Don't do it!
2. Use Deodorant
Use deodorant: I know this may seem obvious, but some guys don't use it and end up smelling really bad. It's incredibly offensive to your dance partner if you smell horrible and they have to keep from gagging whenever they're near you. I remember in my early dance career that was always that guy who smelled bad, like really, really, really bad, like reeked...I never danced with that guy unless I absolutely had to and was forced into it by a teacher. Long story short: Don't be "that smelly guy" because no one likes it.
3. Have Nice, Clean, Healthy Hair
Have Nice, Clean, Healthy Hair: Make sure that the top of your head (hair or no-hair), is clean and well-kept. Don't have long scraggly hobo-looking or greasy sleezeball hair.
- Most guys who dance salsa keep their hair short so it doesn't get in their faces when they dance and it helps them stay cool.
- Get a haircut regularly so you look like you civilized.
- Use shampoo AND conditioner so your hair looks nice and healthy.
- Brush/comb your hair however you want, but avoid the comb-over.
- And of course, use styling products in moderation and avoid the "Jersey Shore" look.
Don't Go Out Dancing Looking like the Guys from "Duck Dynasty"
4. Take Care of Your Beard/Facial Hair
Take Care of Your beard/facial hair and either shave it all off and have a nice clean-cut look, or trim your beard/facial hair so that looks well-kept.
- Generally, you want to keep it less than 2 inches long so this way you look like a gentleman and not like a crazy hobo mountain man. If your beard/facial hair creation is at risk for touching your partner's face when you dance with them, it's too long and you need to cut it.
- Use shaving cream, aftershave and/or other lotions/creams to avoid/minimize razor burn. I recommend the "nicer" ones that they sell in department stores in the "Men's Grooming" section because they are better quality and make your skin feel softer and smell good.
5. Take Care of Your Skin
- If you have clear skin and take good care of it already, great. You can go on to the next step.
- However, if you have problematic skin and/or aren't satisfied with how it looks, especially up close, you should consider going to a skincare professional and asking for advice.
- If you have acne/blemish-prone and/or oily skin, it's okay as long as you do something about it. I feel that it's important to say this because a lot of guys with blemish/acne-prone skin (not to mention women) can get shy about getting up close and personal with members of the opposite sex since you're in such close proximity to one another.
- To take care of acne/blemish-prone skin you can buy skin care products at drug stores, mass retailers, and/or department stores. You can also get them from your doctor's or dermatologist's office. You'll need a medicated face wash (2% salicylic acid, not hydrogen peroxide because it'll bleach your clothes and towels), an unmedicated face wash (to give your face a break), toner (which you apply to your face using a cotton ball after washing your face), and a light-weight oil-free moisturizer. You can buy these products individually or as a set like the Clinique Skin Supplies for Men, which is available at department stores like Macy's.
6. Take Care of Your Mouth
Take care of your mouth because you're going to be interacting with other people up close. You want to be able to talk and laugh comfortably without worrying. A nice, friendly smile is always important to have in social situations.
- Visit your dentist and get regular check-ups, (about 2-3x a year). Keep your mouth/teeth/gums healthy!
- Brush, floss, and use mouthwash before you leave the house to go dance.
- Keep your breath smelling good while you're there by bringing a little bottle of mouthwash to use when you feel your breath getting stale, and rinse your mouth in the bathroom sink.
- Bring gum: lots of it. Most dancers chew gum in order to keep their breath fresh while dancing since we're so close to each other.
- If you have discolored/yellow natural teeth, you can ask your dentist about getting them whitened.The thing to remember is that the faster and brighter you want to whiten your teeth, the more likely you are to experience sensitivity and discomfort. If you have sensitive teeth and/or don't want to spend a lot of money, you can buy over the counter whitening products like "Crest Whitestrips" because they whiten your teeth more gradually than a single in-office office treatment that does it all at once. Unfortunately though, whitening products/procedures don't work on artificial teeth/dentures, veneers, implants, and anything else that isn't your natural teeth.
7. Have Nice, Clean Hands
Have nice, clean hands: This may not seem obvious, but most of salsa dancing involves touching your partner's hands in order to lead them through different steps. This means that you should make your hands presentable so women aren't hesitant to touch them.
- Keep your nails clean and short. Guys with long nails are kind of weird, especially the guys who have the ONE super long fingernail that doesn't make any sense! Your fingernails shouldn't be so long that they can cut into your partner's hand. Cut your nails to an appropriately short length, file them so there's no scraggly ends, and use a nail brush to clean out the dirt from under them.
- Keep your hands clean. Women don't want to touch a guy with dirty hands, so make sure they're clean and washed before you go out.
- Keep Your Hands Smooth: Rough hands feel unpleasant for your partner to touch, so get a bottle of body or hand lotion (unscented if you want) and put it on your hands before you leave the house so it has enough time to absorb before you arrive. Then when you're at home, put lotion on your hands every night before you go to sleep so it can work its magic overnight.
8. Wear Nice, Fresh, Clean Clothes That Fit You Well
Wear nice, fresh, clean clothes that fit you well.
- Wear something light-weight that breathes and doesn't make you crazy hot and sweaty.
- Don't wear anything that's stained, torn, stretched out, too big or too tight, or discolored from bleach/the sun.
- Iron your shirts or get them dry cleaned so they're not all wrinkled.
And take breaks to dry off and change if you start getting all sweaty, which you probably will.
- Don't keep dancing when your shirt/clothes are soaked with sweat. It's really gross for us pretty ladies who have to dance with you and touch your sweatiness. Eww!
- Bring a towel to use to dry off and extra shirts/clothes that you can change into as the night goes on and you get progressively sweaty. I know about 10+ guys who have openly admitted to me that they bring a change of clothes with him. Usually they bring a small rolling suitcase/duffel bag and change in the bathroom, or they keep their clothes in the car and go outside and change in there.
Us beautiful ladies don't want a guy that looks like he spends all of his free time playing video games and eating cheese puffs in his mother's basement. We want someone who looks like he owns a mirror and has enough fashion know what clothes go together, even if someone else buys them for him. And of course, make sure that you don't dance if you're soaked and dripping with sweat. Your dance partners will seriously appreciate it!
9. Wear Nice, Clean Shoes That You Can Dance In:
- Wear shoes that securely attach to your feet that you can dance in comfortably
- Make sure your shoes are clean and polished and not all scuffed up or covered in dirt.
- Don't wear your work boots, snow shoes, slippers, or flip-flops.
- Wear clean socks and/or use a deodorizing shoe/foot spray so your feet/shoes don't get stinky.
10. Use Body Spray/Cologne In Moderation
Use Only a Reasonable Amount of Cologne/Body Spray:
- Don't use a whole can of Axe or bottle of cologne so you can smell good from 20 miles away.
- Your salsa dance partner generally will be within 1-3 feet of you, so only use one or two spritzes so you can smell good to those who are close to you without overwhelming them.
- Don't use an air freshener like Febreeze or car spray as a substitute because then you'll just end up smelling really weird. I mean come on, who wants to be around someone who smells like "Glistening Pine Forest" or "Lemon Fresh" and sweat? I only say this because I've encountered two guys who smelled like this and it was just awkward.
I hope that this advice has helped enlighten otherwise uninformed individuals. I'm trying to do everyone a favor by sharing this information and to minimize hygiene-related offenses, especially to us females, because it's a horrible experience every time that doesn't get any easier.
I will admit that this 10 step hygiene checklist is primarily geared towards making guys presentable in such a way as to make their dance partner more comfortable dancing with them and avoid putting them in awkward situations. Honestly though,the point of this is to make social dancing a more pleasant experience for everyone involved: the guys look great, the ladies feel great, and everyone's happy.
I also hope that this saves men the embarrassment of being politely told by someone that some aspect of their personal hygiene is lacking and has become the subject of gossip by other students and cause of avoidance.
If you know someone who you think might benefit from reading this, please share it with them! If he's smart, he'll figure it out right away and realize that been as prepared for social dancing as he should be.
Remember it's okay if you didn't know something. I have compiled all of this information based on almost a decade's worth of dance experience and hundreds of personal interviews/comments with dozens of fellow dancers.
Trust us, we know what we're doing here.
© 2013 Anya Brodech
Anya Brodech (author) from 130 Linden St, Oakland, California, 94607 on February 01, 2016:
Yes, you're right that's a good point. Thanks for sharing, sorry to hear that you had that experience, but it's good to know you had an honest friend who told you the truth!
L on February 01, 2016:
There's one important thing missing on the list, and that's food. None of all this is going to help somebody who's had e.g. something with garlic for lunch. And one may not even realize, because nobody will tell you (personnal experience, unfortunately, but I was at least lucky enough to have a friend around who honestly answered me after I had noticed that girls started to always excuse themselves after one song).
Anya Brodech (author) from 130 Linden St, Oakland, California, 94607 on August 19, 2015:
I actually discuss this topic in my article on what clothes women should wear to go out salsa dancing.
Salsero on August 19, 2015:
Funny how there's no article illustrating how gnarly women who go salsa dancing can be. Gender biased much?