Dance flooring, why it’s so important

When you are dancing or just walking around you can feel the surface beneath your feet. The hardwood floor in your kitchen might look the same as the one at the restaurant, but you can feel when there’s some give to it. Your body knows whether there’s a layer of concrete a half an inch or so under you.

You walk differently depending on the subfloor. If it’s concrete, your steps are going to land a little different because you don’t want to make your knees and ankles sore. If it’s plywood with empty space below, on the other hand, you’ll find that you don’t worry so much about the impact of each step, and if there’s a floating subfloor, you’ll certainly feel that cushiony spring. Even if you don’t know the first thing about installing a floor, your body can tell the difference.

So, if you’re that sensitive to the hardness of the floor when you’re just standing there in a pair of sneakers, then certainly you’re going to feel the difference when dancing in a pair of ballet slippers.

Why A Floating Subfloor?

Dance flooring is the main difference between a dance studio and any other room. It’s also going to be your biggest investment in converting a space for dance, so you’ll want to get it right the first time. In dance, a floating subfloor can mean the difference between a perfect rehearsal or one with some joint pain.

When a dancer jumps, they have three times their body weight returned to them. An experienced dancer simply will not jump on concrete. Even if it doesn’t result in immediate injury, it’s going to result in fatigue and sustained stress over time.

A relatively new field of study in athletics is that of “micro-trauma.” If you look at the physiques of older athletes involved in contact sports, you may notice that the pectoral muscles don’t always meet in the middle, owing to the muscle fibers becoming detached around the sternum. This, the theory suggests, is the result of micro-trauma. Not one immediate injury, but hundreds of tiny injuries over the course of an athletic career. Sustaining repeated impact to the body will take its toll over time.

Even when a dancer is not jumping, they are constantly shifting their weight with intense, dramatic movement and they need more cushioning than you would if you were simply walking. In other athletic endeavors we typically wear running shoes to absorb the impact while sprinting or leaping, but this simply won’t do for many dance styles.

An effective dance subfloor will provide just the right amount of cushion for each step, distributing the impact evenly. If you jump on concrete, the weight goes straight up and down. On a floating subfloor, the weight moves laterally. When you see someone fall off a roof in the movies, the landing pad of choice is often a stack of cardboard boxes. As the stunt performer lands, their impact is caught by the box and distributed into the other boxes as they collapse. A floating subfloor works sort of like that, with pockets of air catching the impact and distributing it into the surrounding pockets. It’s like a rubber ball vs. a bowling ball. It’s not about the weight, it’s about the density. The give makes all the difference between a soft landing and a hard landing.

Creating The Perfect Dance Floor

The most important things in a dance floor are surface texture and shock absorbency.

A Marley-Type dance floor surface, gives just the right amount of controlled slip, allowing dancers perfect control with every slide, and is generally considered to be the very best option.

To answer the question, you’re probably asking right now: Yes, all this stuff can get expensive. That’s why we offer a ready-made kit which can help you build your own floating subfloor at less than three dollars a square foot. The simple yet effective design is everything. We even have an Alvas Floating Subfloor Cost Estimator to assist you.

The perfect dance floor needs to be safe, it needs to be comfortable, and it needs to give the dancer perfect control over their movement. That’s what our kit achieves.