Competitions are at the heart of what all the hard work and practice is all about, so there is a lot to talk about.

Team Match

The main event of every competition is the Team Match, preceded by a colourful “Olympic Games” style walk-on. Each team enters the dance floor in full costume behind their university banner and then battles against all the other teams in each of the four team dances - Waltz, Cha-Cha, Quickstep and Jive.

The team match varies between competitions in structures. There are a number of heats in successive rounds in each dance. In each heat there are normally 10-15 couples and judges pick out a number of couples to be recalled to the next round till only six couples remain in the ‘final’. In the final instead of simply picking out couples, each judge places every couple and a peculiar system is then used to decide who comes 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. (the system is based on picking the couple with the largest number 1st places and son).

At the end of the competition, couples will have placed from each of the four teams in each of the four dances and points are awarded to each university team based on these places: 6 points for a first place, 5 for a second and so on. In addition to this two points are awarded for each round that a couple gets through. All the universities can then be ranked with IC hopefully at the top of the list.

Open Competitions

In the run-up to the Team Match during the day there are a number of open competitions, which typically incorporate some of the other ballroom and Latin dances that are not included in the team match. There are two basic formats for these open events.

The first of these is simply to have open dances where a single dance is danced in the same way as each of the dances in the team match; and basic events where there is a restriction on the steps that may be danced, but are otherwise the same. All the beginners’ dances follow this format. The second format followed by the big competitions such as SUDA and IVDA is to have four categories: Beginner, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. Dancers in each of these categories dance several dances (1, 2, 3 or 4 dances respectively) and the marks from each dance are combined to recall dancers to the next round as well as for deciding places in the final.


For team match everyone will be wearing a costume and make-up (yes that includes guys). Costumes for the men (tail suits or Latin trousers appropriately) and dresses for the girls (ball-gowns or skimpy, sexy outfits as appropriate) provided by the team, but you’ll need to find accessories that suit your own style and guys will need to have shirts/tops.

The open competitions have different rules to the team match and each competition has its own regulations as to what you’re allowed to wear, but most only allow ‘Non-Competitive Dress’, that is to say nothing which is specifically designed for competitive dancing. Since these rules vary so much, it will be explained nearer the time what you may/may not wear.

Make-up and Fake Tan

It is important to buy your artificial tan well in advance and start applying about a week before competitions. This applies to the guys just as much as the girls - this is not because all guys are poofs, but it’s more like stage make-up, as everyone looks unnaturally pale under the bright lights of the competition. To the uninitiated this may seem odd, but if you’re pale and pasty, you’ll look very out of place on the dance floor.

As for make-up, this is much more of a personal thing and not something that can be described in writing. The best thing to do is speak to some of the more experience members of the team and get advice from them. If this is your first competition, then make sure you ask about these things well in advance.

General details for the day

The most important thing is to make sure you’re on time for the coach, this can sometimes be quite early and we cannot afford to wait for anyone whether you’re an A, B, C or D team! The coach will be leaving from Beit Quad possibly as early as 6am, so make sure you get a good night’s sleep beforehand.

If you can, arrange to stay with a friend the night before, this can be a good idea as it doubles your chances of waking up on time and also you can check with each other that you have everything you need. At the very least you should call you partner when you get up to make sure that you’re both up and getting ready.

We will normally arrive at the competition around 10am where there will be time to practise a little before the ballroom open competition starts in the morning. Since there is never enough time in the day and we can never predict what the traffic is going to be like it’s a good idea to put on as much make-up and things you can on the coach and on the way up.

You will be expected to dress smartly for the coach journey in order to give a good impression when we arrive at the competition. This usually means a suit and tie for the men and either a skirt or smart trousers for the ladies. When we arrive at the competition the team captains will be very busy sorting out numbers and things so you will not be reminded that it is your responsibility to get yourself ready to dance at least half an hour before you’re expected to go on the floor.

On the journey home we are usually all in a pretty good mood and have a bit of a party on the coach back so you think about bringing some alcohol to help lubricate the journey. A competition makes for a very long day and we are never home before 1am (in fact, at some competitions you will only finish dancing at midnight!) so think about how you’re going to get home, and consider that it is cold outside in the winter when you’re tired.

Packing list

Please see the competition packing check-list page.