Ballroom Dance > Wax on Dance Floor

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by UKDancer, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    It is relatively rare to find wooden dance floors anymore that have been treated with wax and I wondered whether anyone had a view as to 'how much' was appropriate.

    A studio I use occasionally has wax being applied daily with a fine cheese grater, before the fine particles are trodden in to the floor and distributed by dancers feet. the result being that the suede soles quickly get clogged up with wax (to the point of there sometimes being a layer that you can actually scrape off), but, of course, you can never restore the nap of the suede to its former state.

    Surely, this is neither necessary nor desirable? The difficulty is that the floor quickly becomes slippery, and more wax is added to 'slow it down'. Can anyone suggest a way of 'restoring' their shoes, and of changing the floor's treatment, so that it is no longer the liability it has become?
  2. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    The only time I've danced on a floor I know was waxed, it was a very small competition held on the hardwood floor in a town hall, not a floating or temporary dance floor. The place was covered in baby powder by about an hour in because people were sticking like a mammoth caught in a tar pit--it was to the point of being a hazard. I can't imagine putting that much wax on deliberately! (The next year it was still a slower floor than I personally would care for, but they'd obviouslly gotten the message and dialed it way down.)
  3. Al Gisnered

    Al Gisnered Member

    Most of the time you can remove the wax buildup by scraping and brushing and then by quickly washing the soles and heels with dish washing liquid. (Dish washing liquid seems to work better and rinse more easily than laundry product.) Mix the liquid about one-to-one with water and apply to the soles and heels. Quickly scrub with a plastic pot-scrubber. The object is to remove as much of the residue as possible quickly, before moisture can soften any glue or sizing in the shoe. Rinse quickly but thoroughly, trying to keep the uppers from getting too wet. Blot dry with any highly absorbent material - paper toweling or old newspaper work well. Stuff the shoes with a shoe tree or paper and put them upside down to thoroughly dry before brushing.. Doesn't make the suede absolutely like new, but I've used this method for years to keep my shoes in pretty good shape without damaging them.

    Don't be afraid of water on leather. Washing with water is one of the steps in curing leather, and we don't wash most leather things only because it may disturb the finish or color, or cause the leather to stiffen a bit. I don't care what color my suede soles are and if they get a little stiffer, it wears off quickly.

    As far as changing the treatment of the floor, you probably have an uphill battle. Waxing wood floors is a very old and traditional way of finishing a wood floor. A light coat of sealer, generally shellac, was applied to seal the grain and then a very thin coat of beeswax was rubbed on to fill the pores and protect the surface from water borne soil and dust. Beeswax hardens over time and forms a highly durable top surface. Done properly, it creates a smooth, even surface, ideal for dancing among other things. However, it is highly unlikely that they are using beeswax. It is probably a paraffin product which will never harden and, in a thin coat, can create a very slippery surface. Thicker, it becomes sticky and also clogs the suede (as you have found). The best floors I've danced on are a very hard wood, such as maple, with little or no finish on them whatsoever.

    Without knowing what exactly which wood the floor is surfaced with, and the kind of installation and finish, it's hard to suggest treatment other than to say that in this case, like many others, "less is more." If you can get the Powers That Be to clean the floor thoroughly and cease using the wax it probably would be an improvement. However, if the floor has been finished with varnish or polyurethane it may well be deteriorating and sticky in itself, which is why they started using wax in the first place. It then would need a complete re-surfacing to make it danceable without wax.- something management is unable or unwilling to do.
  4. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I know the wax is 100% paraffin, because I have seen the container. They are wax beads, grated up into dust. One of the problems is that the studio has quite a lot of beginners and children bringing in dirt and dust from outdoor shoes onto the floor. What your shoes then pick up is a sort of 'paste' of waxy dirt: not very nice at all.

    Several people have fallen over, because the edge of a heel can very easily 'shoot out' from under you if not placed properly. It's a problem. BTW, the flooring is hard maple, and the boards appear to be in very good condition.
  5. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    I used to keep a separate pair of shoes for waxed floors - and would still if I went anywhere that used wax. Waxed shoes on waxed floors, once warmed up, are heaven - sticky when you need it to be sticky, slippery when you need it to be slippery. And yes, much of that was on a floor that used paraffin.

    As for the cleaning, start with a new pair of shoes or perhaps one that's been fully cleaned. Then, get on the floor when the floor is clean and freshly waxed, to get a layer of clean wax onto the shoes. Just waxing the shoes may also work.

    Once you've done that, dirty wax will form flat plaques that will be easy to brush off from the bottom of the shoe with your fingers. A dust mop will also help clean the floor.
  6. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    When I dance on nasty floors, I wear street shoes with leather soles. Around here, that can be tough to find, it seems to be all rubber soles these days, but I have a few pairs I've hung on to over the years.
  7. katherinejh

    katherinejh Member

    I am a member of a university team that works in a space on campus where we don't control any of the maintence. Last year when we came back from winter break, the floor had been waxed (we think) and had roughly the friction of an ice rink. Last week, we went in and the floor was so sticky that my shoes made squeaky noises. When it varies that much, the only thing to do is have a junk pair of shoes that you don't care if you wreck them.
  8. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    Keeping a pair of shoes just for competitions

    The one issue with the studio where I dance is that the floor has what I assume is some sort of wax on it. Visiting coaches have complained about the difficulty of just walking across the floor…. We're all used to it and, more to the point, our shoes are used to it, i.e., wax gets on the soles. The wax on the soles then makes a normal floor very slick. Brushing the soles obviously helps and eventually all is fine (until the next time), but I just got a new pair of shoes and I am considering just keeping them for competitions and not exposing them to the studio floor. However, I usually go through a pretty long process of getting new shoes broken in without destroying my feet by initially only wearing them for a short time and gradually increasing the time I wear them. The floors at my house are wood with a polyurethane finish. If I try to break them in at home rather than on the studio floor will that work? Any issues with this?
  9. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    I'm with you. IMO a dance floor should never be waxed. Either finish it with urethane, or finish it with something thin like tung oil, or leave it unfinished and let it wear in. I had the experience once of dancing at a comp where, the night before the first session, the hotel staff wanted to "help" so they waxed the crap out of the floor. It was like dancing in mud. You had to scrape it off with your room key card. (And of course, the first session had to be smooth.)
  10. Dr Dance

    Dr Dance Well-Known Member

    "Wax?" I thought that it was glue.
  11. Hedwaite

    Hedwaite Well-Known Member

    Nothing makes me Were faster than some idiot putting floorwax down for all the shufflers. Our studio forbids it, but we've had to dance at a couple places with it, and I put hand sanitizer on the bottom of my shoes and track it all over the place. That way, I don't fall down and break two ribs, one hip, and one wrist- in three places- like some poor old lady did one NYE.
  12. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    Properly waxed floors are far better than polyurethane. However, it does help to let your shoes get used to them.
  13. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    And to keep that pair of shoes for only waxed floors.
    Warren J. Dew and UKDancer like this.

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