By now you probably know that I’m kinda obsessed with salsa dancing.
I love social dancing, performing at various events, and competing! I’ve been competing since 2015 and a lot of my competition experience has been in a division called Pro-Am, when a professional dancer competes with an amateur dancer (me!).
The most common questions I’m asked about competing pro-am are:
- Is it really worth it?
- How much does it cost?
I wrote about why I think competing pro-am is worth every penny here.
#2 is more difficult to answer because each competitive event is priced differently and costs vary a lot depending on how close or far the event is from you (driving a few hours is obviously a lot cheaper than booking flights), and the size of the event itself (smaller events usually have lower prices).
That being said, I’ve put together a breakdown of the big costs you can expect as a pro-am competitor at any competition, along with a budget worksheet that you can download here.
Please note that this budget worksheet only cover expenses at the competitive event itself. There are of course other expenses (like dance shoes and classes and private lessons) that contribute to the overall cost of competing.
Any other competitive dancers out there?! What costs do you make sure to plan for when you’re budgeting for your pro-am competition
ALSO…a fun salsa rendition to Michael Jackson’s Thriller filmed throughout some beautiful locations in Italy!
For a three-day pro-am competition, plan to spend around $1,400.
There are two main types of competitive divisions: heated/just dance (sometimes called ‘heat’) and showcase.
Registration for a heated division costs $20 – $35 per entry. Most pros charge around $30 to dance with you in one heat, so a good rule of thumb is to budget double your registration costs, that way you’ll account for your instructor’s fee as well.
I recommend doing at least 3 – 5 heats per competition, otherwise it’s not worth the time and money you spend to get to the event.
Registration for a showcase division costs $45 – $65. Pros charge anywhere from $50 to $65 to $100 per show. Ask your professional partner what their showcase competition rates are before you start working on a routine together so that you can make sure to budget and plan accordingly.
If you are doing several showcases (i.e. a bachata showcase and a salsa showcase) make sure to factor those costs in too.
In addition to paying for the actual competition registrations (above) you will need to purchase what is called a competitor or performer pass. This pass lets you into the entire event, including the competition, workshops, shows, and social dancing. Passes cost $150 – $200.
- $60 per heated/just dance category
- $140 per showcase category
- $150 for a congress or competitor pass
Pro Tip: Register online before you get to the event! If you register on site, expect to pay $10 – $15 more per division.
If you have to fly to the event, book tickets in advance. If you set price alerts on Google and Kayak and check sites like Skiplagged and SkyScanner, you can usually find flights for most events within the USA and Canada for $400 or less round trip.
Even if you’re planning to drive to an event, make sure to plan for the cost of gas or a rental car!
Most hotels will have discounted rates for event attendees, so book early on and find roommates to split the cost of the room with you. 3 or 4 people per room is do-able and will help with cost a lot. 5 or more people in a room and things start to get crowded and stressful (which is the last thing you want to feel before a big competition!). I suggest budgeting $150 for a 3-day weekend (that’s $50 per night, per person, assuming there are 4 people sharing the room).
If the event is driving distance and it’s a one-day competition, you may only need to spend one night at the venue.
I usually budget $100 – $150 for food for the weekend. That breaks down to $20 per meal (two main meals, because there’s never enough time for three full meals at congresses and competitions!) plus snacks, for three days.
This is definitely the category where you could spend less or a lot more depending on who you are and what you like to eat. Hotel and airport food is always more expensive than what you pay back home, so keep that in mind when you’re making your budget.
- $400 for flights
- $100 for gas (if you’re driving or taking a bus)
- $150 for hotel
- $100 for food
Pro Tip: Ask dancers who dance with studios and are on teams if they are planning to go to an event. If they are, see if you can carpool or share a hotel room with them to cut costs.
Pro Tip: Pack snacks before you get to the event. I alway bring energy bars with me(Cliff Bars, Luna Bars, and Larabars are my favorite), as well as nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate. You spend a lot of time in the ballroom on competition days, and you’re going to want snacks. Buying them from the hotel souvenir shop or in the airport quickly adds up.
Costumes are the biggest expense in this category! If you’re renting a costume from another dancer or costume designer, expect to pay $100 for a weekend. If you’re buying a costume, check out this post.
Hair & Makeup
I’ve found that the more you compete, the more you’ll end up spending on hair and makeup products. If you’re just beginning and don’t want to (or can’t afford to) invest in a lot of makeup products, see if other girls on your team are willing to split the cost with you or share some of the things they already have that they generally don’t use. Make sure to ask before the event as some people don’t like sharing products (which is totally understandable!).
You will need to at least buy your own pair of fake eyelashes, though you can likely borrow glue from someone else. Try to get these from a beauty supply store, like Sally’s Beauty Supply. They usually have a better selection and tend to be a bit cheaper than drugstores.
Spray Tan / Tanning Lotions
The more you compete, the more you realize that fair skin looks washed out on stage with all the bright lights. That’s why I usually get a spray tan before competitions, which costs $50 – $65.
You can also get a tanning lotion, like Aery Jo, which is less expensive option ($22 per bottle) which will last for 2 – 4 competitions. But be warned! This stuff is tricky to put on and definitely takes some practice (plus a friend to help you reach tricky places like your back!)
- $100 for a weekend costume rental
- $35 for various hair and makeup products
- $65 for a spray tan
Pro Tip: Ask your studio if they have any dance costumes for rent or if your team director is okay if you use your team costume for your competition. If so, you might be able to save some $.
Pro Tip: One you’re comfortable putting on fake lashes (it takes us all a while!), invest in a pair of good lashes that you can reuse over and over again. It’s definitely worth the investment.