What Types of Clothing Do Salsa Dancers Wear?

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether custom-made or purchased off the rack, salsa dancing outfits add to the allure and drama of the dance itself. Named "salsa" for its intensity and sensuality, this style of dance often features bold costumes in vibrant colours. Unlike some types of dance, salsa doesn't require a standard costume worn by all dancers in its field. However, there are certain features characteristic of the outfits traditionally worn by salsa dancers.

Flowing Fabrics

Fabrics that feature frills or ruffles accent the flow of a salsa dancer's movements. Male salsa dancers often sport flowing silk shirts, while female salsa dancers typically wear skirts or dresses featuring frills as well as tops and skirts with asymmetrical ruffles along the hem. Palazzo trousers and gauchos are another option for the female salsa dancer who prefers trousers, since they're fitted at the waist and flare outward, creating a flowing effect.

Glittering Garments

Both men's and women's salsa dancing costume embellishments include items that catch the light, such as beads, chains, sequins and rhinestones. In addition to embellishments, the garments for salsa are often fashioned from a shimmery fabric, such as satin, taffeta or metallic lame.

Bold Colors

Salsa dancers typically wear bright jewel tones, such as ruby red, turquoise, amethyst and canary yellow. While women's salsa costumes typically feature bold colour from head to toe, men's salsa costumes are usually black or brown with splashes of the same bold colour their partner is wearing, such as a black suit with red vest.

Plunging Back and Necklines

Male salsa dancers often wear tank tops with a scoop neck or dress shirts with the top buttons undone. In addition to showing cleavage with low necklines, salsa outfits for women may also feature a halter top, which shows off the back.

High Heels for Performance

Male salsa dancers traditionally wear "Cuban heels," which have a height of around 1.5 inches. Female salsa dancers most often wear high-heeled shoes or stilettos with an ankle strap. Both men's and women's salsa shoes are typically fashioned from leather and feature suede soles.

Jazz Shoes for Practice

Both male and female salsa dancers usually wear jazz shoes during practice. Jazz shoes are flexible footwear fashioned from leather or canvas. Available in a wide range of colours, jazz shoes may also feature a reinforced toe to withstand the wear and tear from salsa and other dances.

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About the Author

A freelance writer since 2006, Giselle Tattrie has written for publications such as "Reader's Digest" and Popjournalism magazine, as well as for live theater and television. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.