Staying Centered and Compact, Dance Belts for the Male Aerialists

“Hello, 

I am new to teaching aerial silks and just looking for tips and advice as a woman teaching male students.  There are some anatomical differences for my male students that make certain moves like the thigh lock harvest painful.  I’ve advised my male students to invest in a jock strap or dance belt but not actually sure this will help.  Will this help or is it more about positioning and technique? Any advice on how I can help these students would be much appreciated as there are certain moves they are giving up on. Thanks”

Thanks for the inquiry! You are right about the anatomical difference occasionally getting in the way…literally! Thankfully, Clayton Woodson is an awesome team-member on our advisory board and an expert on this subject. He has been advising me on which moves are “male-friendly” and which ones aren’t as I write my teacher training program. As for the dance belt topic, ultimately, it’s going to be different for every male. Each will have to form their own opinions, but the important part is disseminating the information and at least letting them know that this option exists! It will help in some moves, and others are just doomed. I’ve asked Clayton to chime in more specifics on the resource board. See there for more!

For the rest of you, here is an informative article written by advisory board member Clayton Woodson on the subject of dance belts.

Staying Centered and Compact, Dance Belts for the Male Aerialists

Wearing a dance belt is part of the circus experience for the male aerialist. It comes with the package. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but not wearing one can be extremely painful if not outright dangerous. The discomfort of a wedgie is nothing compared to the eye-watering, stomach-turning pain of getting oneself crushed against, or tied up in, the apparatus.

Intymen's Eurothong is a dance belt recommended by Clayton

The dance belt: Ok, it’s a thong.

The dance belt is more or less a euphemism for a thong. I’ll tell you more about the differences in a bit.  For a woman, a thong is primarily an aesthetic choice for hiding unsightly underwear lines. For men, having smooth lines is just an added perk to a thong’s primary function, keeping everything centered and compact no matter if you are upside down or flipping sideways. It works regardless of your orientation. When all of our more sensitive parts are kept in one place at all times, we can learn how to avoid them. Muscle memory goes a long way towards making aerial more comfortable for men, but it only works when everything remains consistently in the same space. The more compact the danger zone, the smaller the area we have to worry about avoiding.

The dance belt and thong work because of the thin strips of elastic that frame the sides of the pouch. These elastic strips connect directly from the waistband in the front to the waistband in the back. This front to back design keeps the elastic in contact with the body which in turn keeps everything centered. In addition, it is important to have a form fitting (i.e. tight) pouch that will keep all of the important things compact and in place.

Clayton Woodson and Jordan Anderson perform on a two-bar trapeze

Ok, it’s not quite a thong

There are a few differences between a dance belt and a thong. Dance belts are typically worn by ballet dancers who are trying to show off the lines and contours of the male form without graphic detail. To accomplish this, dance belts often have a specially designed pouch that presents a single uniform shape. Generally a good thing. Unfortunately, dance belts are often only sold in a few styles and in limited colors, black and flesh. There is a great online resource for dance belts written for male dancers here. At the very least I’d read this about sizing, because men’s dance belts are often sold in woman’s sizes.

Thongs usually don’t have the detail hiding pouch, but they do come in many styles and colors. In my world view, if I’m going to have to wear a wedgie, I might as well have fun with it and wear some bright colors. I highly recommend buying cotton over anything that looks too hightech. I also recommend avoiding thongs with a g-string back. It is a little counterintuitive, but that little piece of string will feel like a saw blade. Just go with the traditional y-back shape. I’ll cover up the details that the thong might not hide by always wearing a middle layer, either a unitard or high waisted shorts, over the thong and underneath my tights.

Aside from not showing too much detail, the middle layer provides protection from the dreaded see-through effect in straddles and it saves the embarrassment of the occasional de-pantsing that can happen on the apparatus. It also protects the skin of the waist from fabric burns, abrasions and other kisses from the apparatus. Ladies take note on those last points. You can wear a middle layer too.

Other options to the dance belt

For those of you who are adamantly opposed to dance belts or thongs I have had some luck with a thong-brief hybrid. This design has the same elastic that connects directly to the front and back waistbands, but rather than the traditional thong back it has wider coverage more like a brief. This hybrid doesn’t have it’s own category, but can usually be found in the briefs section.

Unless you live in a major city, it is unlikely you’ll find dance belts or thongs in any of your local stores. Fortunately, you can order online. Check out the list of suggested online stores below.

Mensunderwearstore.com is a place Clayton recommends for buying dance belts

How to shop for underwear online

Shopping for underwear online might be a first time experience for most men. Here are some things to expect when you go shopping online.

  • You’re going to have to look at mostly naked male models wearing thongs or dance belts. While this might not be safe for work shopping, it does makes sense they would have male models wearing nothing but underwear.
  • Thongs now come in many styles with different functions. There are the more staid versions I’ve been talking about whose purpose is to keep things compact, front and centered. Others have functions more like a pushup bra with a lot of lifting. Others easily veer into fetish wear. If you don’t want to see it you don’t have to click on it.
  • Thongs and dance belts will cost around $20 each. Much more than we are used too, but they will be some of the hardest working clothing you own. It is worth it.
  • If you are buying a thong and err on sizing, err towards the smaller size, that’s kind of the whole point. If you are buying a dance belt make sure you read the sizing link above.
  • Make sure you understand the return policy. If the dance belt or thong doesn’t fit right return it for the right size. Most online stores will allow returns but will charge shipping.
  • Once you’ve got a good fit, give it a wash (think about the previous point). After washing always hang dry your thongs and dance belts. The elastic will last much longer.

If you are getting ready for your first aerial class and don’t want to commit to the dance belt, you’ll probably be just fine with wearing tight briefs. Most beginner classes don’t get into poses that make the dance belt so crucial. As you progress and start learning more skills, the time will come when you need to invest in the proper attire. When figuring out what to wear, keep in mind that the whole point of the dance belt or thong is to keep everything in place, no matter what position you are in.

Suggested Online Stores:

Clayton’s recommendation:

For a more specific recommendation, consider the Intymen: Euro Thong.

Together with his partner Jordan Anderson, Clayton Woodson founded Aerial Fit (www.AerialFit.com) in Charleston, SC in 2009 and the couple opened Charleston’s first dedicated aerial and circus space, Circus Building (www.CircusBuilding.com) in 2013. Clayton and Jordan perform together under the name Wonderson (www.Wonderson.com).

740 thoughts on “Staying Centered and Compact, Dance Belts for the Male Aerialists”

  1. Awesome thanks heaps for the advice and links Clayton. My partner has been having a little trouble…if you know what I mean…and a dance belt is just what he needs! Cheers, Eve 🙂

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