Few genres of men’s dancing attire are quite as evocative as the Latin style. Bringing together influences from Cuba and Africa, the music and performances in salsa are recognised throughout the dancing world for being something a little bit special. With their swirling energy, intricate choreography, and sensual intimacy, the Latin style is about making a statement. And making a statement is something that competition outfits manage effortlessly.
However, dress etiquette can be not only intimidating, it is a significant faux pas to get it wrong. Here’s our quick guide to what to wear for different Latin dress codes.
Basic Latin Competition Dancing
As the name suggests, this is the simplest form of Latin attire. The shirts are instantly recognisable for their long sleeves, and chests that may be open to the waist. Although shirts must keep in mind that crucial word in their name – basic – there is quite a lot of variation allowed. As long as they are plain black or white, you have a choice of sleeve, neck, and material.
Pair these with slightly flared black trousers, which may have a satin stripe if you wish.
Advanced Latin/Rhythm Dancing
Whereas advanced syllabus ups the formality in most forms of dance, advanced Latin is all about flamboyance. Enter one of the most iconic male sartorial styles: the fancy Latin/Rhythm shirt.
Although these are not necessary – a basic Latin shirt is more than acceptable – the use of different colours, styles, and heaps of rhinestones illustrate that this sartorial playground is as much about creating art as it is about perfecting the moves.
Reaching for the sequins is perfectly acceptable but is not necessary. Some of the most striking examples of male attire are also the simplest. There are no particular rules: fancy shirts reflect personal taste as well as the style of Latin dance. If you are performing the Los Angeles Style or Miami Style, glitzy glamour is the norm. Cuban or Colombian may suit something more understated.
Unless you are having a custom suit made, pair your fancy shirt with ordinary black Latin basic trousers – and a good pair of Ray Rose dance shoes!
Latin Dance Shoes
The Latin men’s dance shoe is instantly recognisable. The seductively sloping Cuban heel and narrow toe speak back to an era of passionate, unbridled dancing. However, there are many designs of shoe, and selecting the correct pair is personal.
We have compiled an extensive free guide to men’s Latin Dance shoes, as well as blog articles that deal with this issue specifically. However, as a general rule, focus on choosing men’s dancing shoes that are stable, strong, and have enhanced orthopaedic arch support. More than one dancer on the professional Latin circuit has learned the painful way that superior quality shoes are a vital investment.
Patent or Matte?
Patent or matte is also a question to consider. The Latin shoe has undergone considerable evolution since the days when – if rumour is to be believed – the shine was accidentally invented by a dancer whose shoes were so grubby that he attempted to polish them in mid-dance. Today, competition shoes are often patent leather, and are polished to such an intense shine that they sparkle. However, matching the shoes to the outfit is always a good idea, and soft leather may make a more sensible choice if the rest of the outfit is already laden with rhinestones. Either is acceptable at both entry and advanced levels, so opt for the best fit.
Whether you are wearing basic Latin or advanced, this type of dancing will always promise a visual spectacle. With dress code rules that are reasonably relaxed compared to syllabus standard, you also have ample opportunity to focus on finding an outfit and shoe that you feel comfortable dancing in. After all, the Latin moves have always been about freedom, so find a style that will amplify your moves (whilst never forgetting to check individual competition dress codes!)