Eep! Ballroom is Expensive!

How I make ends meet and where to cut corners

Transitioning from being on my college’s ballroom team to the world of pro-am was a rude awakening. Heck, even if I was part of an amateur couple, it still would’ve been a shock. At my college in TX, we paid dues of about $30/semester to be part of the ballroom dance team which gave us access to group classes twice a week. When a competition rolled around we would carpool to Houston or Austin, pay $25 for unlimited entries, and split hotel room charges four ways…ahhh, the good old days…

When I think about how much I spend on ballroom nowadays it almost makes me sick. Now, granted I was also raised by a frugal mother, but still sometimes a competition costs more than taking a family of four on a week-long cruise! That’s INSANEEE.  And paying $90+ for private lessons is common. But, alas, I was bitten by the ballroom bug, and I needed to find ways to afford it on my salary right out of college.

Beyond the generic ways to save money like “pack your lunch”, here are some ways to save on ballroom:

  • Buy gently worn ballroom dresses through Facebook groups. Or, if you want a new dress, try sites like which ships from Asia. However, beward of buying from Chinese stores on eBay, I’ve learned the hard way that the dress usually does not arrive looking like the picture they posted…
  • Buy tanning lotion to tan yourself before competitions rather than paying for a spray tan. Be ready to apply multiple coats and maybe find a buddy to help you get your back evenly
  • Shop black Friday sales! I saved $40 on a nice latin practice dress by watching for a sale
  • Depending on the competition, you may be able to get away with wearing practice wear with sparkly jewelry. I’ve competed social dances (salsa, bachata, hustle, argentine tango) wearing a ballroom skirt I found at a dance shop for $40, a cute leotard that I found on, and a sparkly belt I made out of materials from a craft store for $10.
  • If you want sparkly shoes and are a little crafty (or know a crafty friend), stone your own shoes. I ordered gemstones from and a gross of stones (144) is only about $10. The same goes for costumes, you can buy plain dresses and stone them yourself to save money. Plus, you’ll have a design that is uniquely you!
  • I found a surprisingly good pair of practice shoes on amazon for only $30
  • Have you ever worn a pair a heels down to a metal rod? Well I have. And I was able to take them to a local shoe cobbler (yes, they still exist) and they replaced the tip of the heels for only $10. That gives you a least a few more months of wear
  • Share a hotel room with other students from your studio when you go to competitions
  • If your studio does showcase performances, see about being part of a group performance, it’s usually a fraction of the price
  • Many studios offer a discount if you pay for a package or membership. For example, instead of paying $15-$30 per group class, you might pay $100/month for unlimited group classes. Which is worth it if you are doing group classes at least twice a week
  • Practice- it’s free! It can be solo or with friends you’ve made at the studio. To get the most out of lessons, you need to practice so you can retain the information and be ready for something new next time. Ask your instructors for drills you can do on your own. #RumbaWalksForDays

But most importantly – don’t go into debt trying to “keep up with the Jones!” If you can only afford group lessons, then rock those lessons and soak up every bit of information you can! If you can only do one private lesson a week, that’s ok! I know it’s hard to see people taking 4+ lessons a week, when you love dancing so much, but everyone is on their own journey and has their own set of circumstances.  

One Comment Add yours

  1. Ralph says:

    Well done. I look forward to reading more. Keep it going.


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