What Kind of Powder or Sand is Good for a Dance Floor, to Make It Easier to Slide?

When I got into dancing a few years back, both line dancing and some two-stepping, it wasn’t long before I found out about this whole idea of needing to be able to slide a little on the dance floor! A friend of mine, a very experienced dancer, pointed out a little area in the corner by the DJ’s booth where there was some baby powder.

She explained to me that people who want to spin and slide better just go over there and walk through the powder a little.

So, that was good to know! But one thing that I’ve also noticed as a dancer is that many times, for me, I just slip and slide too much! I surely don’t need anything further to help me slide. Once, lately, I even nearly took a spill!

So, this article will tackle both these issues head-on! How do we get a little more lubricated on our boot soles to slide as we like? But, also is there any way to treat your boots to put the brakes on a little and get the slipping and sliding under control? Let’s check it all out!

Recently on Facebook in the discussion group, “Line Dancers on Facebook” Someone asked:
What kind of “powder” or “sand” do you use on bar dancefloors, if any, that you might recommend that do NOT ruin the floor?
Wanting to make the dancefloor less sticky / easier to slide but at a low cost and won’t make it so the floor has to be replaced so often.

There were a lot of responses to this. I’m so grateful for the people who jumped in. It is where I’ve taken much of what I am relaying here today! Click here for the original Facebook discussion.

While there’s some debate about if you should apply any substance to a wood dance floor, those that do, agree that Cornmeal and Powdered Dance Floor and Shuffleboard Wax are effective ways to add something to a dance floor to allow people who need it a little more ability to slide. But any substance should be used sparingly and wisely to keep people from slipping too much.

That is the summary, but also it was interesting to note that everyone seems to fall into two camps about it. Some people pointed out a dance floor is actually vulnerable to some substances and should be cared for properly to sustain its longevity. So, basically never put anything on a dance floor! But then many who don’t feel that way offered up what they DO put on the floor to solve the sticky problem.

It was especially great to hear from the likes of Donna Manning, an accomplished choreographer with dances like Rock Me and Booze Cruise among 9 pages dances listed on the Copper knob site!
And also to see the dance pro-Guyton Mundy chime in. You’ll notice both of them fall into the “Nothing on the dance floor” group, but they say so for different reasons. Here’s what they had to say:

“If it’s a real wood floor have them use a commercial sander with very fine paper. Apply Murphy oil and leave for 24 hours to come back with a dry mop. THEN keep all drinks off the floor. Sand, powder, and dance wax ruins wood floors. It’s work but that floor is an investment.”

Donna Manning

“As a dancer for over 30+ years… may I give a little suggestion? Learning to dance on every possible floor imaginable from cobble stone to the barn in Sanford, the one thing you really need to accomplish is learning how to transition your weight so that the floor doesn’t matter…. it’s the dancer that makes the floor, not the floor that makes the dancer.”

Guyton Mundy

So, there’s that perspective on it all! And oh that all of us could learn that skill and get to that level! I think the sentiment was generally many of us feel our feet getting stuck and it would help if there was a little more slickness somehow. So, the next question is:

Should You Use Powder or a Special Kind of Sand on a Wood Dance Floor?

Between the two groups that differ on whether we should even use something on the dance floor, I’m not here to decide but just to offer up the different opinions.

Of those that we’re for adding something to the floor, here were some ideas:

Cornmeal Dennis Bosse
Dennis feels like Baby Powder makes the floor like ice! So, maybe there’s something here! Try cornmeal to add just a little more slickness to the floor. A few people agreed with this suggestion and also added an Amazon link to purchase Indian Head Old Fashioned Stone Ground Yellow Corn Meal if you want to go in this direction.

Dancefloor WaxGreg Cunningham
Greg keeps a little bit of this with him and adds it conservatively to what he calls a “dry” spot.

Dancehall & Shuffleboard Wax – Many Facebook commenters

Candle Wax – Take a tea light & rub a little of the wax on the bottom of your shoes or boots…just a little or the floor gets too slippery – Millie Gagne

Saw Dust, Salt & Pepper – Also suggested!

So, that seems to be it! The round-up for how to get a little more sliding ability seems to primarily be cornmeal, (or cornstarch, or baby powder used sparingly), Dancefloor Wax, Dancehall & Shuffleboard Wax, or Candle Wax.

One other important point was made by a commenter:
“Not sure if anyone has raised this point yet, but if you powder/wax the floor and someone falls and is injured YOU could be liable. It’s an insurance hazard and many venues will not allow it because of that.” – Preston Britto

So do consider this if you own or manage a dance hall or dance venue. It’s important to make sure the floor doesn’t become dangerously slippery so that an enthusiastic, unsuspecting dancer gets hurt from a hard fall.

Also on Facebook, there were a couple of people that mentioned how much they actually hate it when people put powder on the floor. In one case it even got so bad at a dance venue, that people started complaining about the powder because people were falling. They had to stop the dancing and sweep, mop, and dry mop the floor to get rid of the powder before allowing people back on the dance floor. So use the powder sparingly and carefully–not everyone needs it or expects it out on the dance floor.

Here’s a few links to shop for some of these suggested things and more.

A Third Option–Dance Socks!

So, a lot of the people that chimed in went in a whole different direction. Instead of just living with the floor as-is, or putting something on it to make it slicker they suggested Dance Socks.

Those that praised using Dance Socks, said that you can make your own out of old socks, but they just aren’t too effective. And getting cheap knock-offs isn’t great either. The cheap ones are too thin and roll-up. So, the consensus is to invest in the original DanceSocks found here on Amazon.

Shop for Dance Socks on Amazon.

I think the Dance Socks idea is great for transforming ordinary running or athletic shoes into a shoe you can slide and spin with, but I haven’t ever seen these in use in the country bar dance floors I frequent. Not that it would be forbidden, but I just haven’t seen it. I guess for the most part people are dancing in cowboy or cowgirl boots and sticking with a more western look for their night out dancing. I did see it however in Vegas when I attended the Vegas Dance Explosion 2021. If you are interested in the Vegas Dance Explosion or attended this year, check out my recap post that reviews all that went on that week!

But What Can You Do To Keep From Slipping Too Much on The Dance Floor?

Over the course of my brief 3 or 4-year dancing experience, I am actually on the other side of this whole issue! I find that I just slip too much! I have been wondering for a while how to do the opposite! How can I actually get a little more traction with my boots while dancing? I’ve noticed when doing a line dance like “We Are Tonight” or even the Denver Cha Cha partner dance I can get to slipping too much!

I’ve wondered what I could do but now have a couple of ideas. The two main suggestions I’ve heard were:
1. Scuff up your boot souls a little. In other words, don’t just use your boots for dancing. Walk around on concrete or asphalt and allow them to get scuffed and scratched up on the soles. So it follows that we should be careful not to go out dancing with new boots that are clean and slick still on the soles. This is a good way to fall quickly. Break those new boots in first!

2. Add some duct tape to the bottom of your boots. So that was another suggestion that I got from the same Facebook group talking about the sliding and powder on the floor. I actually took this idea and ran with it. I think it worked a little, but really what seems to be happening is that the tape is getting destroyed and now the gummy sticky part of the tape is exposed and making my boots a little sticky.

The problem with this is that now I’m probably leaving the sticky tape goo on the floor a little! So, now I’m actually NOT recommending this!

The boots I’m wearing are The Justin Rail Boots for men available on Amazon. I still really love these boots and still recommend them, but I’m not sure if the Justin leather soles aren’t part of the slippery problem. I’ll try a new brand with my next purchase just to see.

What Is Something to Never Add to the Dance Floor?

This last point is more just for fun, but I think it is important to note that most serious dancers all agree on one thing: Never take your drink out on the dance floor! Back to that Facebook post, about 7 people reminded us of this important thing.

Of course, as you go around to different bars there are different standards and some are super casual and just don’t care. But I think in the end it’s a better practice to try not to bring a drink out onto the dance floor. It’s a great point of dance floor etiquette.

This way the dance floor is preserved longer and more importantly you’re not risking spilling your drink and risking the chance of a fellow dancer slipping and taking a hard fall all because you couldn’t go without your tall beer on tap for a few minutes.

Note: I’m not suggesting you should risk someone tampering with an unattended drink! So, if that’s a concern where you do your dancing, maybe just wait till you take a break before ordering your beer or wine!

And a little update on this! I’ve heard recently that people are bringing their drinks out onto the floor so they don’t have to wear masks! (Since you’re allowed to remove the mask while eating & drinking!) Wow!

Here is a good reference about properly maintaining and caring for dance floors: https://worldwidejanitor.com/library/how-to-care-for-your-dance-floor/

Brian Sheridan

I'm the owner of CDT. I live in Fullerton, California, and enjoy country dancing with my friends at least once a week.

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