Safe Dance Floors & Safe Shoes!
Properly installed and routinely maintained ballroom floors can do more than reduce fatigue during a dance party or a long practice session. Now we’re learning that when dance floors provide uniform pliability, they can also make dancing much safer.
Uniform Floors Are Safer
A recent study concluded that dance floors with the greatest variability were associated with the most injuries. While a certain amount of “give” is necessary to absorb shock, the study indicates that dancing presents the least risk on floors without variations in support from one section to another.
Creating a level of acceptable uniformity for a “floating” or “sprung” ballroom floor requires special expertise: selecting the highest quality of durable hardwood boards, carefully monitoring the installation, and inserting a sufficient number of plastic or rubber “cushions” between the boards to absorb shock. Of course, asking experienced professional dancers to test a floor with a full spectrum of dance styles is mandatory before it can be pronounced ready for general dancing.
A Work In Progress
Unfortunately, even the best floors degrade over time, like many heavily used construction materials — and like fine-tuned musical instruments. Variables include the types of dancing, the number of dancers, the total hours of use, temperature and climate conditions. All of these can take a toll, whether or not the floor was ideal to start with.
Having a uniform floor is a “work in constant progress.” If you spot a section of a dance floor that looks or feels like it needs attention, report it to the studio manager ASAP. The same area may have been OK the night before, but finally needs a “tune up.”
When checking out studios, it’s wise to ask about dance floor construction. Is it “floating” and is it regularly checked for uniform “give”? Is it swept clean before and after dance parties?
Brush Those Shoes
Another huge factor related to safe dancing is dance shoe maintenance. You need dance shoes that permit you to glide smoothly and securely whenever you move in a desired direction. But take care. You also need traction for maximum control and safety.
There is a fine line between “smooth” and “slippery.” To avoid crossing that line, brush the suede bottom of your dance shoes with a sharp wire brush before taking to the floor. This removes dirt or dust and raises enough nap to give you traction. Use alternating strokes in a zigzag pattern to prevent any one area from wearing down faster than the rest. Just as you benefit from a uniform floor, you need a uniform layer of suede.
Always keep that brush handy in your dance bag. If you’re an active dancer, accept the fact that suede will eventually wear down completely, and brushing no longer helps. You may need to have the soles replaced a few times each year. Compared to the potential costs of slipping or falling, view the price for new layers of suede as economical health insurance.
Freshly brushed suede soles and a well-maintained dance floor help you remain safe and injury free for years of dancing.
Hope to see you on the dance floor!