Tattoos and Piercings in Ballroom Dancing

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by ballroomboilergirl, Dec 13, 2003.

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With regards to competition appearance, what do you think of tattoos and piercings on ballroom dance

  1. A big no-no! Shouldn't be seen on competition floor

    81.7%
  2. They're okay as long they aren't very noticeable and don't affect your dancing

    15.6%
  3. They're good because they draw attention to you

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Piercings and tattoos don't matter...its your dancing the judges are watching!

    1.5%
  5. Undecided

    0.8%
  6. Other

    0.4%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. ballroomboilergirl

    ballroomboilergirl New Member

    I'm curious to see what everyone thinks of this...I myself have 5 piercings and have had mixed reviews as to how it might affect how I am scored on the floor...but I'm going to hold out and see what you guys think.
  2. samba ajr

    samba ajr New Member

    I had a lady instructor a while back with the sun and moon tattoo on her decolletage and a LARGE angry sun on her back. We rarely if ever saw them. Then at a competition, she wore a top with a big keyhole in the back, and the tattoo became prominently featured. For latin ok maybe, but for smooth? She hadn't realized it would show (and freaked out just a bit--we were looking for paint to cover it up!). Luckily she had a long hair piece that pretty much covered it!

    As for piercings, as long as there's no risk of anything getting torn (eek), I guess it's ok. Of course if you are playing to the judges, you should look into who they are, and if they're a bit older and might take offense at the piercings, better safe than sorry.
  3. lindy jihad

    lindy jihad New Member

    i really think people need to get over the whole shock taboo of tattooing.
    i think there needs to be more opera singers with ink as well as ballroom dancers.

    now, i will never get all of my arms done, because i know i would not be able to get as many jobs. its such a sad world. so sad.
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hmm. I don't want to sound like a hopeless fuddy-duddy. (Although maybe I am :? ) I think that piercings and tattoos can be okay, up to a point. But it is possible to overdo them. When they become distracting or draw attention away from your dancing, I think they're overdone.

    Not to rationalize away my fuddy-duddiness (not a word, I know), but take a look at "The Judge's View" video. In it, several world renowned judges talk about the importance of grooming -- everything from manicures to tans. Surely these folks have some strong opinions about tattoos, as well. Who knows what those opinions are, but why risk it?

    At the last comp I attended, there was a young lady with five or six tattoos -- one on each ankle/leg, a large one on a shoulder blade (backless gown!) and a couple more on her arms -- you know, the thorny bracelet looking ones. You know what my coach (who has also judged) said? He said "Ew! They have makeup to cover those things!" Yup. The tattoos drew attention to her, but not in a good way. Just something to think about. (By the way, they do have makeup to cover virtually anything -- it's called Dermablend, and it covers everything.)

    I am thinking about a tattoo for myself, but it will be in a spot where the judges can't see it, just in case.

    Just my 2 cents -- I could be an old-fashioned twit, and probably am.
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Sorry. I got off on a tattoo tangent. :oops: :lol: Piercings? Same deal, I guess. I know a couple competitive dancers with multiple ear piercings -- looks okay. I like the two-hole look with a stud in the top hole and a large earring in the bottom hole. And earrings are a MUST for competitive female dancers. And I could even wrap my mind around a belly-button piercing in a Latin costume, as long as the ring was tasteful.

    But again, when it gets to the point where the piercings are distracting people from your dancing, you have to draw the line. Where that line is, I'm not sure. :? :)
  6. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I have a belly ring. I have had it for over ten years, since before I was dancing, so ithere was no thought given to how it would affect my dancing or how I would be percieved/judged in the ballroom world. When I wore my first two piece latin outfit back in 1993, there were lots of gasps, but now it is so common place to see them. Lots of high ranking girls have them, and quite a few men as well. Multiple ear holes show up with unsurprising frequency. I see a few pierced noses, very few, and the girls usually take the tiny stud out so you would never know it was there to begin with. And I don't know of any professional competitiors that have any other piercings on their face.

    I did just get my first tattoo. And I have put a lot of thought into this for years. I got it on the top of my foot, and I have a few pair of shoes that show it nicely. But when it comes to my dancing, I can easily spread some foundation make-up on it and with my fishnets covering it as well, you would never know it was there. Sometimes I cover it with make-up, sometimes I don't depending on how I feel, either way the fishnets themselves do a good job of masking it.

    I often see tattoos on girls lower low backs and guys arms or chest. For the most part if it is a nice tasteful design I don't think it detracts from your dancing or gives any judge a reason to fault you.

    Since neither of my adornments are "in your face" I find them to actually be more than acceptable. They don't detract from anything. They are simply embellishments. I don't really care to see, on the ballroom floor, lots of tattoos or piercings, like Pygmalion said, there is a point where it is probably too much. Ballroom is supposed to be pretty and latin is supposed to be sexy, and the average view of pretty and sexy don't usually include lots of holes and ink. I mean really, why spend three thousand dollars on a beautiful elegant ballgown, look like a princess, only to spoil it with "SEXY KITTEN" scrawled acroos your back.

    just my thought :)
  7. lindy jihad

    lindy jihad New Member

    i think this so called "average" is changing. its about time too.
    tattooing and piercings have moved from a taboo, to a sub-culture, to popular culture.
    i really dont think people should be judged on what they look like, cause that opens up a whooole new can of worms.
    i know we are talking about ballroom here, but some of the best lindy hoppers i know are totally inked up. even their freakin dog has a tattoo!
    marking someone down for tattooing and piercing is like marking down someone for race. you can argue that the said tattooed person should know the consequences, but we live in a society that teaches tolerance. we should try to look past it all.
  8. ballroomboilergirl

    ballroomboilergirl New Member

    It was good to hear everyone's opinions on the matter :D I think we're all in agreement that tattoos and piercings fall into the grey matter of looking good for competition...opinions indeed vary from judge to judge, coach to coach, and dancer to dancer.

    I have 5 piercings: one set of regular lobe piercings, a second piercing right above the lobe in my left ear, a cartilage piercing in my left ear, and a navel piercing. Though this is typically more than the average person has, I by no means think of my piercings as being "excessive" or "distracting"; I wear silver hoops in my lobes and tasteful rhinestone studs in my other ear piercings most of the time, and a small, pretty rhinestone bar in my navel.

    However, when my first competition rolled around in November, I was test driving my outfit, hair, makeup and jewelry at an open practice when one of the advanced members of our team (a guy who has competed at Championship Latin and has been nationally ranked two out of the past four years) practically went nuts and said "You aren't going to wear THOSE, are you?", gesturing at my navel ring, cartilage, and extra lobe piercing. He thought that they were too "taboo" and would detract from my dancing. The navel I can understand. The cartilage? Ok maybe. The extra lobe piercing? I don't think it was a big deal. Nevertheless, I took his advice and removed those three piercings for the competition.

    However, at my second competition the following weekend, I saw NUMEROUS girls with navel rings, extra ear piercings, even nose rings and tongue rings. And they were still getting called back, as if the judges didn't even notice it. This left me rather puzzled as I had gotten such a negative response from the members of my team.

    Based on what you all have said, though, I think the general consensus is that piercings are okay as long as they are tasteful and not excessive. My piercings are as much a part of me as the way I do my hair and makeup; I don't want to have to conceal them for competition. It makes me feel a lot better knowing that even professionals (thanks Larinda! :D ) have them, so they must not be completely detrimental to your score in competition.
  9. d nice

    d nice New Member

    Surprise, I agree with lindyjihad.

    The very idea of looking at someone's choice of beauty as possibly having some sort of impact on their dance ability disturbs me.

    I mean I could just as easily down grade someone because their hair is the wrong color, their skin is not dark enough, oh forget it.

    Just one reason why the closest I'll ever get to competitive ballroom is PBS.
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    To me, it's just like a job interview -- subjective, big time! The interviewer isn't going to tell you that you didn't get the job because your nails were scruffy. Chances are, they don't know consciously why. They just turn you down because you didn't make a good impression.

    Competitive dance is like that, too. It's about making an overall good impression. Superficial, yes. But hey. That's what we have to deal with. Things do seem to be loosening up, but a lot of the judges I've seen are definitely old school. And they may not mark you down BECAUSE of your tattoos or whatever, they mark you down because you just "didn't make a good impression." Why is anybody's guess.
  11. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    When I first started dancing, at my second pro comp, a unknown judge took me aside and told me that he loved to watch us, and we had a great future ahead...but...my costuming was all wrong, I needed different shoes, my tan had to be darker and I should rethink my hair-do. The word he used is "grooming". And I can't get away from that word even today. Ballroom is ballroom, what can I say.

    Ballroomboilergirl, I also have one hole in my right lobe and 5 in my left lobe and one in my high left cartilage. But the only earring I wear at all anymore is the one in the cartilage. I consider these so common place anymore, that they aren't really an issue.

    I had to reread your post, I was so sure the person that made the rude quip at you was going to be a standard/smooth dancer...
  12. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    How do you know they're not - opera costume tends to be pretty all enveloping. The guys especially could have everything but their face and hands done, and you'd never know unless they cared to tell us. Since it has absolutelty nothing to do with the quality of the music, why would they bother, except to possibly take advantage of the `shock taboo' for publicity purposes?

    Cheers
    Sarah
  13. d nice

    d nice New Member

    And this is why Lindy Hoppers will always be "Thieves in the Temple of Ballroom".

    As a judge myself I just could not ever see myself looking at anything other than someone's dancing.

    The onlyway what they were wearing or how they "groom" themselves would effect my evaluation is when it covers up their dancing. If your hair was down to your calves or are wearinga mumu and I can't see what is going on underneath I am likely to give you a lower score... not because of the hair or dress, but simply because I'd miss out on body movement. But then again if what I could see was better than what I got from everyone else then you are still going to place high to first place.

    It reminds me of Charlie and Jackie, two Carolina Shag superstars (they are like Fred and Ginger in that dance) were told at the US Open Swing Championships that they could not perform because their clothing was inappropriate... what were they wearing? casual slacks, button down shirts and sweater vests... not formal enough... so they went out and rented matching tuxedos. Needless to say the dance was awesome they kicked everyone's butt, and felt incredibly uncomfortable the entire time. The slacks and vests are pretty much the "uniform" for their dance.

    By demanding they were "more appropriate costuming" the officials were attempting to change decades of tradition and the very look of the dance (anyone who has ever seen Carolina Shag will understand why their choice of clothing is casual and unrestrictive).

    Then again Ballroom is Ballroom. I think the tans, dresses, make-up, men's clothing, and plastic smiles seen in competitions are pretty repulsive. Yet I can still look past it and see the technique and beauty of the dance. Personally I think Ballroom should get a whole new slate of younger/more accepting judges.
  14. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    I think I'm going to answer here with a huge, decicive `it depends'.
    The judging of ballroom dance is a subjective thing and anything that makes the judges go `Huh?' is probably a bad thing, so while tats and piercings are not necessarily awful, the dancer should definitely consider the asthetic impact of them from a stage or performance perspective. A couple of cases in point. I was watching some tribal belly dance, and while bold tats and heavy ethnic jewellery are de rigeur for tribal style, this one dancer had chosen to wear a nose ring linked to an earring with a chain. Very cool, and appropriate to the dance but the shadow cast by the chain under stage lighting made it look as though she had two day's worth of stubble on one side of her face. Not cool.
    One thing that I havn't actually seen but can imagine is the effect of tattoos on the appearance of arm or leg lines. We are advised to not wear black shoes for ballroom comps because of the shortening effect on the lines - I can see a heavy anklet or armband tattoo having the same effect. Then again I can also imagine a well designed tattoo enhancing arm or leg lines.

    Cheers
    Sarah
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Styles do change. I'm sure that the ballroom dancers a couple decades ago wouldn't be caught dead in the simple lines of today's smooth/standard costumes. They had to have flounces and boas. Change is coming. Perhaps slowly. But in the meanwhile, in the spirit of Strictly Ballroom, "You can't win if you do your own steps!" And, for what it's worth, most competitive dancers are in it to win. So it pays them to understand the contemporary conventions, repulsive or not. *shrug* It's one of those things.
  16. (I said elsewhere that I was logging off, but when I can't go out dancing, being online is another addiction of sorts.)

    I'm not part of the ballroom scene, so my opinion may not be worth a whole lot, but if ballroom dancing wants to attract an under-30 crowd, it had better consider being relaxed about tattoos and piercings.
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I doubt it will happen anytime soon, Hothouse Salsero, although it probably will happen eventually. The ballroom world is full of very conservative people who have a lot of power.
  18. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    just a small update.

    this weekend I was chatting with a judge in the hallway and was wearing a pair of heels that easily showed my tattoo. He showed great shock and surprise when he noticed it. I said "yah but you have never seen it before when I dance have you...?" He said "no, but whoa you should hear the judges up on the dias bi*ch and moan about them. They all hate them."

    Later that night another judge noticed it and commented on it. She said "good thing I didn't see that earlier when you were dancing" Now she said it in good humor and I know her well enough to know that it would not and will not make a difference in her judgement for our placement. But things said in humor...

    So I will continue to cover the tattoo on evenings that I dance, this is no different to me than putting on my fake eyelashes. It is just part of making myself up and put on a costume, playing a role that the judges and audience want to see, a fantasy that they want to live through me for a few short moments, and it won't kill me.
  19. virginiadancegirl

    virginiadancegirl New Member

    Larinda -- After seeing you dance, I find it a shame that a little tattoo would make a difference! As I said elsewhere...I was booing at your placement on Saturday!! I (as an uninformed obsrever) thought you were amazing. I only hope I can someday look as good as you on ANY dance floor!
  20. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for the update Larinda.... and, as is worth noting, some other judges could "keep it in mind" in the future (just something to consider for any newer dancers reading this thread).

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