Dance belts

In a comment on my “dress left/right” posting on Facebook, Mike McKinley asks for a posting on dance belts. (We seem to be in the Crotch Zone at the moment, what with that posting, the one on Jon Hamm’s moose knuckle / freeballing, and the one on the NuttyBuddy protective cup — and now this one. Well, these things come in waves; one leads to another.).

The dance belt is first cousin to the jockstrap and to the thong, both of which I’ve often discussed (and depicted) on this blog and AZBlogX . Specifically (from Wikipedia):

A dance belt is a kind of specialized undergarment commonly worn by male ballet dancers to support their genitals. Most are similar in design to thong underwear.

Dance belts were developed and considered desirable[2] for male dancers and others to wear because (1) various choreographic moves can otherwise result in pain or possibly even injury to the male genitalia which are not supported and held snugly in place against the lower abdominal area, and (2) skin-tight, body-hugging ballet tights would otherwise reveal the contours of the male dancer’s anatomy to a degree of detail that could be considered distracting to the audience.

A dance belt resembles a thong undergarment in design but has a wider waist belt so the flesh at the waist is not pinched in. At the back this waist belt is connected to the bottom of the front triangular panel that covers and supports the male genital parts by a very narrow piece of elasticized fabric. This strip of fabric passes between the wearer’s legs and is recessed in the crevice formed by the two buttocks and is sometimes referred to as a “T-back” design.

… The color of the dancer’s supporter is normally chosen to be similar to his skin tone, such as beige or dark brown. This makes its presence barely if at all visually noticeable beneath the dancer’s costume, a pair of tights which is generally worn over a leotard top (if the latter is worn; female ballerinas usually wear their tights under a leotard top). Dance belts are also produced in white and black.

Posed as a demonstration:

And on a dancer:

(See the same man in a different color dance belt and in different poses here, where the dance belt is described as “a homoerotic icon”.)

On the utility of dance belts:

Dance belts can be worn by any active males desirous of support and a visually smooth and neat appearance when wearing snug, form fitting and generally stretchy clothing, for example costumes worn in dance styles other than ballet, as well as by figure skaters, trapeze artists, actors wearing skin tight super hero costumes, and equestrians. This could be for reasons that, similar to ballet dancing, relate to aesthetics (look), comfort, and testicular injury prevention. In the case of the male rider, a painful injury could result when unsupported, low-hanging testicles strike the saddle as the rider raises and lowers his position.

The tights that dancers wear are also specially designed:

Women’s tights are too thin for men and they are too see-through. Men’s tights are thicker and more like tight leggings than pantyhose. (link)

Men’s ballet tights are pulled up, into the asscrack, giving what is essentially an intentional wedgie; the point is to avoid the “unibutt” look by clearly delineating the dancer’s buttocks. Here’s a dancer in his tights:

Not an especially good photo of the tights, but I admire the dancer’s athleticism.

Lexicographic notes:

dance belt is a very common type of noun-noun compound, roughly ‘N2 FOR N1’. But it’s specialized in meaning, referring to a special kind of belt meant for ballet (not just any dance) and intended specifically for men.

ballet tights is another instance of the FOR type of compound, but rather more transparent than dance belt.

wedgie (a derived noun based on the noun or verb wedge) actually has an OED entry. From OED3 (March 2004):

slang (orig. U.S.). An act of pulling the cloth of a person’s underwear, trousers, etc., tightly between the buttocks, esp. as a practical joke; any positioning of a person’s underwear, pants, etc., resembling the result of such a pulling.

Cites from 1977, 1987, and 1999. The second, from David Foster Wallace, is especially entertaining:

1987   D. F. Wallace Broom of Syst. 370   Neil Obstat had been given a wedgie..in the boys’ locker room..and had been left..hanging by his underwear from a coat-hook in the hall.

3 Responses to “Dance belts”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Mike McKinley on Facebook:

    There are two very important functions that dance belts serve. One is to make a nice, attractive and smooth bulge out of what are, in effect, some disparate parts. Without a dance belt, you look like you’ve got two grapes and a Vienna sausage (or, if you’re lucky, two figs and a Kielbasa), wearing a dance belt gives one a uniform and “classical” look. The other is more practical. When your legs are in fifth position or doing “batterie” which is where the legs beat front to back, etc., it save your nuts from getting in the way and smashed by your thighs.

  2. The Trocks | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] de Monte Carlo, the drag ballet troupe. The segue into that topic is my recent posting on dance belts (and ballet tights for men), and a comment from Mike McKinley on the functions of the dance belt […]

  3. Dane Youssef Says:

    THE REAL HERO’S UTILITY BELT by Dane Youssef

    If a guy’s willing to wear the standard jock-strap in any other sport, he should know–and be comfortable enough–to wear the “dance-belt.” Keep in mind that ballet truly is…the ultimate sport.

    If the boy asks, “Why?” Just tell him… “It’s just like wearing a jock-strap.” And have his father tell him what happens when one—any jock—plays virtually any sport without wearing a jock. Except boxing, of course. Or let him see himself what happens.

    Yes, ballet is a sport. In fact, it’s the ultimate sport. It makes anything else—even those sports that involve riding down snowy cliffs at break-neck speed or driving vehicles that have no speed limit.

    A man should protect himself. Just like the woman keeps her toes taped and padded with gel inserts and cotton balls when she does Pointe. Have that belt and made a nice firm cup over it at the same time. Accidents can happen. A guy needs less protection (just like anything else in life), but he still needs it. Women need more accessories when it comes to doing anything… and this is certainly no exception.

    Tell the boys that they can dance. Tell them they’re supposed to. Ladies… ask them to dance with you. Tell them that they have a place in ballet… An important place…

    –As Always, Dane Youssef

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