The Guide to IAGSDC Convention Chapter 13
Taking care of yourself
Dancing at Conventions and fly-ins usually runs all day, and it's easy to forget to take care of yourself.
If you're not used to dancing for several hours at a time ... be aware that square dancing is a low-impact, highly aerobic activity, burning 400 calories per hour of constant motion. That means you need to treat yourself a little more carefully than usual, unless you're already accustomed to extended periods of (vertical) aerobic activity.
- Consider carrying along a bottle of "sport drink" (e.g., Gatorade, PowerAde, etc.). Even if you don't feel thirsty between tips, it's important to keep yourself hydrated! At the very least, keep a refillable bottle of water handy.
- Remember to take a drink after each tip; it's very easy to get dehydrated on a dance floor.
- Some people find that taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or pain medication helps prevent muscle soreness later. For example: aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen sodium (Aleve). Take such medication before starting to dance or before finishing up a long dance session. Cameron Robb used to take Advil before dancing to avoid swollen feet at end of a long session. Mark Ambrose (a self-described son of a pharmacist) points out that if you have problems with painful or swollen feet or legs after dancing, and over-the-counter meds don't work for you ... consult your physician. There's a long list (which Mark quoted to me, but which I won't repeat here) of prescription-only anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Kate Yule reminds us that gentle stretching between tips can help prevent soreness or stiffness.
- Take a long, hot soak in the hotel hot tub or in your room after you've finished dancing for the day ... it's a great way to prevent muscle soreness at night or in the morning.
- If you have physical conditions that preclude actions such as twirling or swinging, consider investing in a "Please don't twirl me" or "Please don't swing me" badge. You can purchase such badges ready- or custom-made at most Conventions, from the Fial family's badge booth. Even with the badge, make sure you inform the other dancers in your square of any requests before dancing starts.
- Some dancers wear a red kerchief on a sore wrist or arm, or use a faux sling to indicate a weak arm.
If your feet tend to blister during long/intense periods of activity ... go to an outdoor clothing store and try a pair of "sock liners". These are thin white socks worn under regular socks. Sock liners wick perspiration away from the skin, and substantially reduce friction to prevent blisters or chafing. Try these before going to Convention – perhaps at a local club night or class night. Daniel Howell from Tinseltown Squares likes investing each year in a new pair of comfortable shoe liners/foam pads/sport insoles that he can slip into his dancing shoes.
Personal grooming is extra-important when you're dancing eight to ten hours a day. You may need to shower more than once a day. Breath mints are handy on the dance floor. A good antiperspirant or deodorant is essential and polite.
If you sweat a lot, bring a towel. Yes, we know we said this earlier. Many dancers don't like hugging other dancers who are soaking wet. If you know you get sweaty ... sweatbands for your head or wrists wouldn't hurt, either.
What should you carry around with you? Some people prefer to "travel light" when running around dance halls. Andy Chong from Toronto likes carrying around little more than his dance schedule and a hand-held fan. Others like bringing a bag or backpack containing items such as: spare badges or badge magnets; breath mints; sports bars or energy snacks; adhesive bandages; spare shirt; a towel.
Just like at summer camp when you were a kid ... put your name on your stuff.
Daniel Howell points out that you're going to be one of over a thousand dancers; make sure that your backpack, gym bag, fanny pack, or camera case has your name in it, or a luggage tag attached somewhere.
This especially applies if you're carrying around one of a thousand identical backpacks or fanny packs from a current or previous IAGSDC® convention.