FAQs

What is Dancesport?
What if I haven’t danced before?
What is the difference between CUDT and CDC?
What if I have danced before?
Do I need a partner?
How much is it likely to cost?

Do I need my own costume?
What should I wear?
What are Full and Half Blues?
What is the Varsity match?

What is Dancesport?

Dancesport is the competitive side of Standard Ballroom and Latin American dancing, as seen on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. It consists of five dances of each style, Waltz, Quickstep, Tango, Foxtrot, and Viennese Waltz for Ballroom, and Cha Cha, Jive, Samba, Rumba, and Paso Doble for the Latin American dances. At Cambridge we follow the international style, rather than the American steps. As a dance form it combines technical prowess, physical fitness, discipline, etiquette, teamwork, and a competitive edge. It is this combination which distinguishes Dancesport as a sport, as well as an art form.

What is the difference between CUDT and CDC?

CUDT (Cambridge University Dancesport Team) is the competitive University team for Ballroom and Latin. We offer training and classes and expect our dancers to compete throughout the year, although many of our dancers had never competed before joining CUDT. CDC (Cambridge Dancers’ Club) is the parent body of CUDT, and is a ‘town and gown’ (i.e. not just limited to students) society. Classes in other dance styles related to Dancesport are overseen by CDC, including social Ballroom and Latin dancing, rock and roll, and salsa.  As a member of CUDT, you will also be a member of CDC and be able to access their other classes, whereas all CDC members will not necessarily be members of CUDT. In order to become part of CUDT, the competitive University Team, you will need to purchase CDC membership for the year.

What if I haven’t danced before?

That is not a problem! We have an excellent Beginners’ Team which is consistently among the country’s best. You are eligible for the team if you have had no professional Dancesport tuition before March of the year in which you join CUDT. We teach right from the very basics, so all you need is enthusiasm 🙂

Beginners attend the same competitions as the rest of CUDT and compete against other beginners’ teams from around the country. It is a great way to get into Dancesport, and many top dancers on CUDT were originally beginners on team. Alternatively, if you would like to try these dance styles, but you don’t want to commit to competing (which is fantastic fun and nowhere near as scary as it sounds, we promise) then the Cambridge Dancers Club offers classes for people to learn at their own pace.

What if I have danced before?

Great! Please contact the CUDT Captains at cudtcaptains@gmail.com and they will discuss the best options for you. CUDT includes a few dancers each year with a background in Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz or other styles, but without prior Dancesport experience, who make the transition smoothly into Dancesport. So do get in touch regardless of the style you have trained in! If you have rhythm, a desire to train hard, and a love of dancing then we would love to have you.

Do I need to bring a partner to team trials?

No, you do not. Partnering is carried out after trials by the Coaches and Captains with the aim of putting together the best possible team. So come along as an individual dancer, or with friends, and we will try you out with a range of dancers there on the day. If, however, you do have a partner, let us know.

How much is it likely to cost?

Taking part in Dancesport does incur costs. Costumes are usually provided by the team, but shoes and make-up are each individual’s responsibility. There is a subscription cost for each term, in order to cover practice venue hire and coaches attendance at team training, and there are also competition entry and transport costs. Members of CUDT First Team are also expected to take regular private classes which they pay for with their partner. However, the committee work hard to ensure these costs are as low as possible, and so remain affordable for students. We receive large discounts from dance shoes retailers, and a generous subsidy from the Cambridge Dancers’ Club. Furthermore, because of its Blues status, many colleges subsidise their students to take part in Dancesport which can help with the costs. If you would like to know more, please contact our Treasurer.

What should I wear?

At training practices and lessons the general rule is to be comfortable and able to move. For everyone, suitable Ballroom or Latin shoes should be worn, to ensure that the training is suitable practice for competitions. For men +NB (leaders), it is common to either wear tracksuit bottoms, as long as they don’t drag on the floor or risk getting caught; or practice trousers, which tend to be a little looser than typical smart trousers. Most men +NB choose to wear a t-shirt or shirt with this, and it is advisable to bring a spare if you are prone to perspiration as training can get very intense! For women +NB (followers), practice skirts tend to be around ankle length for Ballroom and shorter and/or asymmetric for Latin. Practice tops may have a variety of designs, including asymmetric cuts or drape effects. Heel protectors should be worn at all times whilst wearing heeled shoes, both in training and at competitions.

Am I expected to have my own costume?

Beginners compete in what is called ‘restricted dress’- that means no fancy dresses and tail suits, sadly! It does mean beginners are expected to provide their own costumes for competitions (one for ballroom and one for Latin), but these can be bought cheaply at sites like ASOS, Pretty Little Thing, Primark etc (other brands available!). There will be lots more detail about this when you join!

Team is usually costumed from the top down, with First Team couples a priority for Team-owned costumes if they do not have their own. This may seem meritocratic, but really just reflects the people on team who will be most affected by competing in costume. As they are also restricted dress, Novices are expected to self-source a costume, but as for Beginners, this can be very simple. Good dance costumes needn’t break the bank, especially when your opponents are making more footwork mistakes to pay attention to instead!

What are Full and Half Blues?

At the University of Cambridge a ‘Blue’ is a recognition of sporting excellence, usually linked to representing the University at the top tier of your sport. Eligibility for Full Blues and Half Blues in each sport is decided separately for men and women by their respective Blues Committees and more information can be found on their websites. Being awarded a Blue can make you eligible to apply to the Hawk’s Club for men, and the Osprey’s for women. They are two University societies for people of sporting excellence. More information can be found on their websites. Dancesport has Discretionary Full Blue status for both men and women as of June 2016. The criteria not only require you to be outstanding in your preferred discipline, but to dance in the A Team at the Varsity Match with Oxford, where couples need to perform in both Ballroom and Latin.

What is the Varsity match?

The Varsity match is a term used to refer to an annual sporting competition between two British universities. Cambridge traditionally competes against Oxford in our Varsity events. For CUDT it is one of only two competitions in the Easter (summer) term and each University puts forward two teams of 9 couples to compete in the Varsity (A team) and Challenge (B team) match. Only students at the University of Cambridge are eligible for the Varsity Match and the Challenge Match. Finishing in the top 9 couples in the A team match overall is the criterion for being awarded a Half Blue for both men and women.

How will COVID-19 affect training and competitions?

The short answer is: we aren’t 100% certain, no surprises there – but we anticipate being able to run nearly normally, with in-person training multiple times per week, and most (if not all) of the competitions in a usual year. To protect our dancers, we may decide to require members to take COVID tests prior to attending training and classes, and face coverings will likely be required at parts of each Team training session.