Saturday, 21 February 2015

"You said he wears what?"

"I said he wears a dance belt."

I'm curious as to why some folk go a bit funny when told that male dancers wear a dance belt! Not most, just some. Jock straps, boxes for cricket, bras, pelvic protectors for women, plastrons and chest protectors for fencing etc all serve the same purpose - protection and support of either the groin or chest area. Same with a dance belt for a dancer.

Last year Brains was asked to dance the part of Prince Charming for the Maureen Ax School of Dance in Palmerston North, who were performing Cinderella as part of their concert. He accepted. Brains and Miss M were to dance a Pas de Deux. Miss M was dancing as Cinderella. Miss Lisa, Brains' teacher, choreographed the Pas de Deux so there were journeys between Palmerston North and Wellington for both Miss M and Brains.

Miss Lisa has a good stock of costumes and so was able to say what Brains would wear and we used her stock. Prince Charming often wears white tights in the ballroom scene and this is what Miss Lisa chose for Brains. All good, they were in her stock from our 2011 concert.

BUT . . . the only dance belt Brains had was black. And a black dance belt under white tights does not go!! Tends to show through. So a flesh coloured one was needed. Not white as whites can be very different and can show through as well.

I had some flesh coloured cotton lycra in stash - not much but these things don't take much - but cost heaps! Once again I used the lovely Robin's pattern. At Robin's suggestion I had bought some spacer padding from Spandex House

The fuzzies got in the camera again! It was tricky to get a shot but you can just see the padding between the two layers of fabric. This is a two way stretch i.e. sideways and lengthways (four way on the Spandex website)

I decided I would dye the white elastic to a flesh colour. White tends to go grey/grubby even with frequent washing. Brains washes his own gear but still . . . flesh was better. 

So out came the tea bags and a bit of experimentation happened. Generally the more teabags the stronger the tea/dye. The length of time they are immersed makes a difference too. 

The elastic is 50mm or 5cm wide. The middle piece was 6 teabags and around 15 minutes. Oh and that piece is only 40mm or 4cm wide. The piece on the right was 2 or three teabags and only 5 minutes. Some colour washes out when it is rinsed.

I also dyed the lip elastic (foldover elastic/FOE) at the same time. As you can see the middle one came out quite orange! Possibly because it has more nylon content and takes the dye differently than the cotton based elastic above? I'm not, sure but it was interesting! The one on the right is what I used.

The cotton lycra at the top with the two elastics. Not a bad match!  :D

Here is the main part of the dance belt. The dart creates the pouch, gives it some shape. I used the narrow zig-zag stitch. 

The dart cut open so it lies flat. The same is done with the spacer. 

The outside of the front. I stitched both sides of the lip elastic at the sane time. Bit wonky in places. I've since read you can stitch one side, then the other. I shall have to do some research I think. 

Inside out - just because it's quite neat and tidy  :)

The thong side - which I managed to get nice and narrow this time. The elastics tone in well with the lycra. 

All in all I was really happy with this dance belt. I thought it turned out very well! 

A shot from the show - cos I'm a proud Mama Bear  :)

Photo courtesy Maureen Ax School of Dance

And one from the photos after the final show. Prince Charming and Cinderella.

Photo courtesy Maureen Ax School of Dance

Miss M, who danced Cinderella, is now training at Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy in Australia  :) 

There is more information and a link to an excellent site about dance belts for dancers or parents in a previous post here.


  1. Love the Kiwi ingenuity using tea bags to dye the elastics! Thanks very much for all the knowledge you've shared on sewing dance belts! I'm sure my son's genitals are very appreciative!

    1. You're welcome, Jeannie :) I'm not the originator of the tea dye - I was told by folk wiser than me! I'm glad the info has been helpful and your son is getting used to wearing the one you made him :)

  2. This is even better than the first one. It amazes me how someone can be so proud of the fact their own mother makes their dance belt for them, it's honestly hilarious. I think I takes common sense to understand its purpose, I just don't think you can see how ridiculous it is seeing someone being so proud to make these for their own son who does one of the most feminine things possible haha. Honestly please do continue posting about these things, these posts really do lighten up my darkest of days :)

    1. Your thoughts are interesting! I'm proud of my son's ability, skill and that he gets out there on stage. He just finished performing here in NZ in the Fringe Festival in Wellington.

      Glad I can brighten your dark day too.

    2. How sad that you have nothing better to do than to come here and troll.

      Firstly, why wouldn't one be proud of their skills in construction and problem solving, even if the constructed item is to be used for intimate purposes? It takes skill to work with 4-way stretch performance fabric and FOE, especially on small pieces; and creative problem solving nous to tea dye the elastic to get the right shade of beige. I am not at all surprised that the author is proud of what she has created with her own two hands, using the skills she has built over years.

      Also, I am absolutely startled that anyone still thinks of ballet as being feminine. Ballet is a set of skills that few, male or female, can master. It takes dedication, fortitude, discipline, physical strength and athleticism, an innate sense of rhythm, and grace to be a ballet dancer. I see nothing in that list that suggests it is a set of characteristics that only women can posses.

      While I am glad that this post lightened a dark day, it says a lot about the kind of character you have that you took such pleasure from mocking others. I hope that the people you encounter in your life show you more kindness and sense than you have shown here today, for if the world is full of bullies and meanies such as you, then it is a sad place.

    3. I feel really sorry for you, accepting such old fashion gender stereotypes as gospel. If this really is your true opinion then then you are limiting your own potential in every possible way.

      I'm sure you feel nice and safe, under your dark and resentful rain cloud, criticising someone who is proud to excel at something they clearly have a talent for - both mother and son.

      I suggest you step outside, open your eyes and embrace the sunshine, you'll enjoy life so much better.

    4. You sound like someone who has a lot of dark days and I urge you to seek help. A good counsellor will help you overcome your sadness and feelings of inadequacy so you won't feel the need to criticise other people. I hope that one day you will be able to experience the love and joy as is expressed in this wonderful post about a mother creating a garment for her son and the pride she feels in his mastery of an extremely demanding artform. Do whatever you can to find your way to a happier frame of mind. Your unkind thoughts are only harming yourself and life is too short to be angry and unhappy.

  3. How very clever to use tea to solve your elastic colour problems! They look very neatly made too, you certainly know how to work with your performance fabrics!

    Also, Brains looks glorious on stage. I am sure he is a very talented dancer, and wish I'd seen him in the Fringe!

    1. Thanks, acharmofmagpies :) Brains has the ability to train professionally should he choose to do so.


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