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Your Dance bag checklist: what to pack on competition day

Setting yourself up for success is so important for competition days. Training the week before, having a solid nighttime routine before you compete, and having all the necessary items with you will make the day so much more enjoyable. Whether it’s your first time competing or you’re a seasoned competitor, consider this guide your go-to checklist for everything you need in your dance bag!

Costumes and Dance Attire

First and foremost, make sure that you have all of the necessary costume pieces for your big day. Making a list of all the items and accessories needed for each routine will help you pack with ease. You can also pack each costume into its own packing cube with a label on the front so quick changes can be done with less stress!

If you have costumes that wrinkle easily and need to be hung on a hanger, this portable folding clothing rack is a must have— it takes up very little space and is easy to throw into your dance bag for a long day of costume changes. Also, when packing your costumes, it never hurts to add an extra pair of tights or your practice shoes into your bag. You never know when you (or a fellow dancer) may be in a pinch and need to borrow something.

Hair and Makeup

Worried about your hair and makeup lasting through a long day of dancing? Here are some tried-and-true products to look performance-perfect from start to finish.

Using a primer before foundation will help illuminate your skin and allow the foundation to stay put. Hourglass Vanish Airbrush Primer and this Milk Makeup Hydrating Primer are great options! Setting powders are also a necessity for a dance and sweat-proof look. Finally, once you have your makeup done, finish things with a setting spray.

Tip: For your dance bag, buy mini or travel size cosmetics to take up less space in your makeup bag. More cosmetic items include:  

  • Bobby pins and hair ties 

  • Extra strong hairspray

  • Deodorant, perfume, or body spray

Performance Prep Items

Ahead of your performance, it’s so important that you warm up your body properly and thoroughly. It never hurts to bring some resistance bands or a foam roller to warm up those muscles—especially for those of you who have early morning performances. 

Putting in your AirPods or noise canceling headphones will also help you get in the zone mentally. Try and keep all these items separate in a small tech pouch so they’re easy to find in your bag, no digging around is necessary.

Another element to consider is that you ensure you feel comfortable during your warm-up. If possible, wear some comfy sweats or competition gear during your performance prep. More performance prep items include:

  • Phone charger 

  • Costume cover-up/warm-up sweats

  • Bottle of water

"Just in Case" Items

Think of your dance bag as a Mary Poppins bag—when you reach in, you should be able to pull out virtually anything you could need. These are the “just in case” items for those moments that will inevitably pop up.

If you pull a muscle and need some quick relief gel or that dreaded blister pops and Dancers’ Dots are the only way you’ll be able to finish those last two routines, these items will keep you prepped for anything and everything! More emergency items include:

  • Emergency sewing kit

  • Safety pins 

  • First aid kit

  • Stain remover 

  • Feminine products

Post-Performance Items

The hard part is over! You just danced your heart out on stage, had a great day, and it’s finally time to cool down. A post-performance stretch is just as important as your warm up. 

Massage balls (or a tennis ball) is a great way to release any tension from a long day of dancing and also help speed up the recovery process. Hydration is also key! Be sure to grab your water bottle and keep it filled throughout the day. After all of the adrenaline that comes from a performance day, you’ll want to drink lots of water (maybe even incorporate some electrolytes.)

Remember to bring a change of clothes if you feel inclined to change out of your costume—cozy slippers are such a little luxury after a long day of being on your feet. More post-performance items include:

  • Healthy snack

  • Protein bars or recovery gummies 

  • Team gear or a change of clothes

Dance Bags to Consider

You may be wondering “how am I going to fit all of this into one bag?” The more segmented and organized you can be with packing cubes, carry-all pouches, and makeup bags, the better! Here are some highly-rated options that range from everyday dance bags to larger competition-style bags:



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