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Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot! Tips for Dancing in Extreme Heat
Whether your summer involves outdoor shows, costume character work, or a studio without AC, chances are you’ll find yourself dancing in uncomfortably hot weather very soon. Dancing in extreme heat can be pretty awful, and it can even be dangerous if you’re not taking care of yourself. However, if you take the right precautions, dancing in the heat will be much more bearable. In fact, I think you will be shocked at how much energy you can have! So, here are my top tips for dancing in extreme heat.
The obvious one: drink water!
You probably knew this one already, but did you know just how much water you should be drinking? Recomendations vary of course, and you should consult your doctor for your specific situation, but I’ll tell you what I aim for and you can adjust from there.
For context: I’m a female in my 20s of average weight with pretty good overall fitness.
When I’m dancing outdoors in 90+ degree weather (which happens a lot, since I work at theme parks), I try to drink 60-100 ounces of water on show days. I have a 20oz water bottle, so I just count how many water bottles I drink. Here’s a sample schedule:
- Drink 1 water bottle before work
- Drink 1 water bottle during/after warmups
- Drink 1/2 water bottle between every show
- Finish my water goal when I get home
In real life, I don’t keep track very strictly, but that’s the general goal. And let me tell you! I used to be a one-water-bottle-a-day person, and I absolutely hated dancing in the heat. I felt (and looked) like a limp octopus. But then when I switched to this hydration schedule, my energy skyrocketed. I felt so powerful dancing full out in 95 degree weather and still being able to breathe. All thanks to water and electrolytes, which I’ll talk about in the next tip.
My favorite water bottle:
Don’t forget electrolytes
Electrolytes are minerals in your body that help balance your water level, pH, and all sorts of useful stuff. Sodium (salt) is an electrolyte, as are potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphate.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to memorize those, and you don’t need to track your intake of each electrolyte individually. You can get a good balance of all necessary electrolytes in sports drinks or dissolvable powders.
Be careful of sugary sports drinks, though! Sugar will give you energy followed by a crash, which is not what you want when you’re dancing in the heat. Go for sugar-free sports drinks, or try this powder that I love: Ultima Replenisher Lemonade Flavor
How do I incorporate this into my hydration schedule? It’s simple: I just replace one of my mid-day water bottles with an electrolyte drink. It gives me an immediate boost, so it’s great to drink right before a show.
Bring a change of socks and undergarments
Dancing in the heat naturally comes with a lot of sweat. Nothing feels better than changing into a clean pair of socks and undergarments at the end of a long day of shows. Trust me, it’s a game changer!
Not only will you feel refreshed, but changing out of your sweaty clothes can also help with body acne and prevent yeast infections. I recommend either 1) changing socks and undergarments halfway through the day, or 2) changing at the end of the day before you go home.
Hopefully I don’t have to say this, but this tip is not a replacement for taking a shower!
Don’t eat heavy food until you’re done for the day
Multiple disclaimers for this tip, because I know food can be a sensitive topic for dancers:
- I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist and this is not intended as medical advice.
- You know what your body needs more than anyone else. Don’t blindly follow a bunch of rules just because a dancer on the Internet suggested it. Try it out, but only follow the advice that works for you.
- I’m only suggesting you avoid heavy food on days where you’re dancing in the heat. When you’re not dancing, eat as much heavy food as you want. There are no bad foods!
All that being said, I recommend eating light meals throughout the day when you’re dancing in the heat. Think salads, fruit, nuts, popcorn, carrot sticks, and so on. I usually eat a protein bar on show days, but that might be too heavy for some. I personally have a pretty high tolerance for heavy food, so even a small serving of leftover stir-fry is okay for me on a show day. You’ll have to experiment and find out what your body does and doesn’t like.
The usual snacking advice applies as well: avoid high sugar snacks or anything that’ll give you a high followed by a crash. A lot of people would say no potato chips or similar snacks, but I personally love baked potato chips as a light mid-day snack.
Don’t overthink it. A snack is a snack, and the important thing is that you’re eating something. Empty stomachs are just as bad as full stomachs for dancing in the heat. Both put you at risk of feeling nauseous.
Use ice packs or cooling towels to lower your body temperature
Your body can function in high temperatures, but not for extended periods of time. When you’re dancing in extreme heat, you need to make sure you’re cooling down periodically so that your body temperature isn’t riding high for hours on end.
Sometimes, that’s as simple as going into the air conditioned green room between shows. Other times, you’ll have to cool yourself down. Place an ice pack or damp towel in one of these areas to quickly lower your body temperature:
- Back of neck
Those areas of your body have veins close to the surface, so your blood will cool down as it passes by the ice pack.
Don’t push yourself
I know, asking a dancer not to push themself is a tall order. But seriously, just being out there dancing in the heat at all is pushing yourself plenty. Don’t give 100%. Give 85%. Work on your upper body and facial epressions. Focus on keeping it clean without being extra.
In the end, the dancers who take care of themselves in extreme heat are the ones who are going to last longer, have more energy, and give a better performance. Dancers who push and push and push are going to be the ones passing out, throwing up, and having the swing go in for them because they had to go to the hospital. So swallow your pride and take a break!
Dancing in the Heat
Drink water, include electrolytes in your diet, bring a change of socks and undergarments, eat light meals throughout the day, cool yourself down with an ice pack, and don’t push yourself, and you’ll be much more comfortable when dancing in the heat. Well, as comfortable as you can be! Leave a comment below if you have any other tips and tricks.