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I am not a very seasoned dance mom. In fact, I’d consider us a fairly new dance family. I have two dance seasons under my belt now and have finally figured out the formula for a smooth competition weekend. It wasn’t until my best friend, fellow dance mom, and blogger, Emelia showed me the ropes. She set up my bag for me so I didn’t miss a step along the way. There are going to be a lot of things you learn along when way, but here are several items every dancer needs in a competition dance bag. Competition weekends are already stressful enough, have these items in your bag and you’ll be set up and ready to go.
Ten must-have items for your dance bag
Keep in mind that your dance studio may have specific requirements and you should read your contract to make sure you are following their guidelines.
Check with your studio to find out what type of makeup they’d like you to have. Make sure you read the fine print. Our studio does a white base and black crease on the eyes and uses a very specific color of MAC lipstick. Lashes are also required. In my makeup kit, I have extra lashes, and extra lipstick, and keep a few extra tools such as brushes, powder, and mascara on hand. A note about magnetic eyelashes. I used them for the first time this year. As much as I loved the ease of them, we ended up losing several over the weekend. I stick with traditional lashes. I really like the Ardell brand which you can find at Ulta or on Amazon. My make-up kit is also where I keep all of our make-up, hair supplies, small mirror, competition jewelry, wipes, glue, small bills for vending, and anything else that I might need along the way.
Regardless of studio guidelines, you are going to need a good strong gel or hairspray. I like to have my girls shower before I put their hair in a bun so I can get it as slicked back as possible. For our first year, we used a bun maker covered with a hair net to keep in any stray hairs. This also requires a ton of pins. So make sure you have all the supplies in your bag of tricks for the right hairstyles. This usually means a hairbrush, comb, pins, hairnets, elastic ties, gel, and hairspray. I keep these things in my makeup kit and always have extras on hand.
I know this seems like an obvious thing to have in your bag as your head into a competition weekend, but you’d be surprised how many times I have panicked thinking we didn’t have shoes. Unless you have two sets of everything, you’ll be grabbing your shoes from the shoes they use for dance classes. We have to double and triple-check to make sure each costume has corresponding shoes.
Yep, these have been left behind. Don’t wait until the morning of to get your bag together. Make sure your costumes are all labeled and packed up. I use individual dance garment bags for each costume with a checklist attached to make sure we have everything we need. It also allows me to do a quick inventory before I close up the bag. I really like the ones with zipper pockets to keep those little items from getting lost between competitions.
Butt Glue or Garment Tape
Before you ask, yes this is absolutely a must. My older daughter had a growth spurt mid-season and we’re now using butt glue to get us through until our last competition. She also had a costume (that I made for her) that showed a little too much up top when she was doing ground work. The garment tape was great at keeping the material from slipping and preventing exposure.
Make-up wipes get their very own category because I use these so much. There can be a lot of downtime between routines and lipstick can come off or need to be retouched. Make-up wipes help make these changes clean. Also, both of my daughters want to take their make-up off the second they are done for the day. Not only do I keep these in our make-up kit but I have them in my purse at all times.
Snacks and Water
Competitions can be held at convention centers, hotels, or performing arts centers. Some of these places are fully prepared for large crowds, others not so much. Plan accordingly. We keep a well-stocked gallon size zip log bag full of sustainable snacks. We also bring their hydro flask water bottles with us making sure they are full before we leave the house or room if we’re away. Some snacks we keep with us are granola bars, fruit gummies, veggie straws, popcorn, applesauce pouches, and pretzels.
Oh, these are a must-have for sure. I can’t tell you how many times this year these have saved up. These shout wipes are great at getting off even the toughest lipstick stains. When the girls are doing quick changes and their lips accidentally touch their costumes, these wipes do the trick. The other moms will thank you for having them on hand.
First Aid Kit
It might be the girl scout in me but I always have a first aid kit with me. Trust me, at some point, you will need to use it. Make sure your kit has a pair of tweezers, ointment, bandaids, tape, and small scissors in it. You don’t need a huge kit, just something to hold you over until you can either get home or seek medical attention as needed. I actually have one with a hook on it and hang it on my dance bag. Everyone knows it’s there and people are welcome to use it. Also, keep a separate little bag in your space for menstrual supplies, make-up wipes, and fingernail clippers. Make sure your parents know they are there and can use them as needed.
Extra Tights and Sewing Kit
This year we actually have several routines with tights and fishnet tights. Make sure you have extra tights packed away. It seems they tend to snag and rip easily. This is why I like those clear plastic garment bags with pockets. The pockets help keep the tights protected after each use. You’ll also want a sewing kit handy. Some of these costumes lose buttons or the clasps come loose along the way.
These are the essentials that I highly recommend having. There are a few other things I recommend if this is something you are going to be doing for a few years. I highly recommend a good dance bag from the start. I personally like the Glam’r Gear bag. We started out with a Dream Duffle, which I loved, but it just wasn’t big enough for us. One accessory I like to have is a hanging shoe rack to hand on my bag. I have the ten shelves, single-column wrack that allows me to keep both girls organized.
The last thing I would recommend is a hard-sided make-up case. Chances are you’re spending quite a bit of money on make-up and if you’re keeping it in a roller bag, you’re going to get it tossed around. I also have one with a lock on it and keep it locked up on those long days where we might have our bags set up but not supervised.
If this is your first year, don’t let this list scare you. Once you find your grove you’ll be able to customize your own bag and what works best for you. There’s always going to be a mom that has everything and another mom that has just enough. Find the in-between and enjoy your dance season.