Dancing in the Most Expensive City in the World: A Singaporean Dancer’s Guide to Save Money

By Sean Mahendren

By Sean Mahendren

Sean is a carded team Singapore national athlete and was ranked as national dancesports vice-champion between 2013 - 2015. He is the first ever-Singaporean Indian to have excelled in the local dancesports scene and was featured in the local media to also encourage people within the community to follow suit. Retired from competitions, he is the head dance instructor for Asia Music School’s Dance department.

Cited as the most expensive city in the world by The Economist, ballroom dancing in Singapore can be quite costly. Save some moolah with these 3 simple tips: 

1.    Save money by practicing at open space.

Reduce studio rent and practice independently at free open spaces. You can practice on your own by improving your body mechanics first. Be aware of your footwork, pelvic & spine movement, and core engagement during your Rumba walks for example. Demonstrating good body mechanics would immediately give a positive outlook to the judges and will help you pick up steps better, the next time you go for a lesson. 

While you may need a bigger space to practice your choreographies, to work mainly on the mentioned body mechanics doesn’t need a lot of floor space - you can opt to practice at an open area such as ‘Scape’, which is completely free of charge. 

SCAPE is located beside Cathay Cineleisure Orchard near Somerset Mrt and you can literally practice anywhere there, as long as there is space vacant. Do bear in mind that since it’s free of charge, it is on first come first serve basis and you would have to share the space with hip-hop and contemporary dancers. It gets extremely crowded in the evening but usually empty during the daytime. 

You may receive stares from the onlookers, don’t be intimidated and think of it as an experience to be more comfortable dancing in front of strangers. 


2.    Don’t splurge on top dancers or change choreography too often.


Did you know that private dance lessons in Singapore from top teachers average at S$200 per 45 mins?

Unless the existing routine you have is not highlighting your strong points, don’t change your choreography too often. Changing choreography means more money spent on private lessons to perfect them.

If you are an experienced competitor and have the means to take lessons with a top ranked visiting professional, go ahead! But always bear in mind that you do not need a renowned architect to fix a broken handle.
Singapore has a lot of local-based teachers who are competent and able to guide you on a regular basis at a reasonable price.

Also, you can opt for group lessons, which are more economical - and info offered in private lessons will generally be included by professionals in group classes. 


3.    Costumes, Practice Wear and Dance shoes


Get your costumes tailored in Vietnam or Thailand at a cheaper price. Be detailed with the type of materials used to create the garment and you can buy crystals and beads from Arab Street to decorate it yourself. If you use Swarovski or Preciosa crystals on your costumes, it’ll look equally expensive as the ones made from a designer. Keep your designs simple, as this is ultimately not from a designer label

Do not splurge on your practice wear in Singapore. Many of the practice wear sold at an incredibly high marked up price in local stores come from China/Vietnam/Thailand and can be found in Taobao - which is a Chinese website similar to eBay. Non-mandarin speakers may need the help of their Chinese mates to help them out with the translation and may need to dabble in try and error method but the big saving is worth the trouble. 


You can also find dance shoes in Taobao website, particularly for practice wear as they can cost you somewhere between S$20 - 50 each, which is a huge contrast compared to the ones from American and European brands that costs about S$100 - 300 each pair!

While you can certainly buy a good quality pair from a high-end label for competitions, use the cheaper pair for practice sessions. BD dance shoes can be found at a reasonable price in the Taobao website.

Lastly, always plan a budget for each month on dancing and try to keep to it. At the recreational level, you may be spending between S$200 - 300 a month and at a competitive level around S$400 - 500 a month per person (Excluding costumes and competitions cost). Over these figures would mean that you are spending above average and you may want to reassess your expenses.  

Therefore, plan your budget well and YOU can actively pursue dancing in the most expensive city in the world! Happy Dancing!


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