Black & White Ball Frequently Asked Questions

Please note: This FAQ is subject to change.
For the most up-to-date information, please check with a staff member at Black & White Ball events such as classes, the Ball, the Decompression Dance Party, or Stage Zero demonstrations.

For 2024: Please be sure to read the details below about our updated masking policy for the Marriott San Jose Ballroom for the Black & White Ball and private lessons.

If you would like additional information that hasn’t been addressed on the website or social media, please email

What is the Black & White Ball?

The FanimeCon Black & White Ball is a formal dance that takes place on Sunday night for registered attendees. This event runs from 6:00 pm until midnight.

The Black & White Ball and its associated events and dance lessons will be held in the San Jose Ballroom in the Marriott.

What is the Decompression Dance Party?

The Decompression Dance Party is a casual dance that takes place on Saturday night for registered attendees. This event runs after the dance lessons earlier in the day. It was created as an opportunity to enjoy social dance in a more casual setting while also being a space to practice before the Ball itself. You may also have an opportunity to see a rehearsal of some of the demonstrations that will be performed at the Ball!

What do I need to know about partner dancing?

We encourage following partner dance etiquette:

  • Anyone can lead or follow in partner dancing! Feel welcome to try dancing both roles during the lessons to find out which role you prefer.
  • Feel free to ask someone to dance! If you’re not sure who to ask, keep an eye out for the “Ask Me to Dance” section in the room and look for a possible partner there.
  • It is more than okay to turn down a possible partner, but if you decline, it is generally polite to not ask/accept a dance for the duration of the song that is playing. If you were already planning to dance with someone else during that song, just be honest! Everyone wants to have a good time, but sometimes people just want to watch the dance floor or chat with their friends for a little while.
  • Look where you are going and be aware of your surroundings. The dance floor can be crowded, and it is easy to bump into others or step on other people by accident. Please apologize if you do.
  • Follow the line of dance if a traveling dance is played, such as waltz or foxtrot. The line of dance travels counterclockwise around the floor. More experienced dancers or dancers who like to travel a lot should dance closer to the edge of the floor while those newer to dancing or who do not want to travel as much should remain closer to the center of the floor. The line of dance will also be marked with tape on the floor for your convenience.
  • If you are doing a dance that does not travel (e.g., swing) to a song marked as a travel dance (e.g., foxtrot), please dance closer to the center of the floor to allow traveling dancers to move around the outside of the dance floor.
  • If you are not dancing, please leave the dance floor. Being stationary on the floor will only increase your chances of being stepped on.

Is there an age restriction?

No. The Black & White Ball is an event for all ages!

In order to ensure that this event is appropriate for all ages, certain steps have been taken by the Black & White Ball staff. For example, our staff checks the lyrics of every song (no matter the language) to ensure that the lyrics are clean.

Is there a dress code?

Yes. The dress code for the Black & White Ball is formal. It is enforced as a condition of entry to the Ball.

You can find the dress code here.

The dress code applies to the Black & White Ball itself. It does not apply to the dance lessons or the Decompression Dance Party. The rules regarding heels still apply during these situations for safety purposes.

If you have any questions about the dress code, would like more details, or want to check if what you plan on wearing is appropriate, head on over to the forums or email!

Why is a dress code necessary?

The Black & White Ball was envisioned to be a formal event for attendees, as well as a structured dance that was appropriate for all ages.

We have had people ask us in the past why we have a dress code. For events such as the Black & White Ball, the dress code is considered formal. Though our dress code is detailed, we have tried our best to make it relaxed and flexible enough to accommodate the convention environment. Our dress code has changed throughout the years thanks to feedback from both staff and attendees, so keep an eye out for updates each year!

The dress code is also there to promote safety. Stiletto heels, for example, are not allowed for safety reasons. For those who want to wear thinner heels, we recommend putting heel caps on them so they meet the width requirement. As a bonus, heel caps also protect your heels! While supplies last, Idris’ Closet will have heel caps available during the weekend should you need any.

Can I cosplay? What about my Lolita or J-Fashion outfit?

As long as the clothing you’re wearing adheres to the dress code, all cosplay is welcome! While we are not a cosplay-specific ball, we love seeing all of the amazing cosplay and J-Fashion!

New for this year, ouji-style shorts are allowed as long as they adhere to the skirt length guidelines. We look forward to seeing all of your amazing cosplay and formal creations at the Black & White Ball!

Why can’t I wear my 6-inch stilettos?

We restrict shoes and certain types of heels for safety reasons. Stiletto and narrow heels are prohibited due to the high probability of feet getting stepped on while partner dancing. In the partner dancing world, ankles and feet can be severely scratched and muscles can be torn due to being stepped on by stiletto heels.

Thicker heels are preferred because of this, as they give dancers the least chance of injury. Accidents do happen and because of this, restrictions have been put in place for the safety of all dancers no matter their experience level.

If you aren’t used to wearing certain kinds of shoes, we recommend testing them during our dance lessons or the Decompression Dance Party!

Do I have to wear only black and white?

You are welcome to wear whatever colors you like! The name for the Black & White Ball actually comes from the idea of “black tie” and “white tie” formal events!

What do I need to have in order to go to the Black & White Ball?

In order to attend the Black & White Ball, you must have a current FanimeCon badge, and your clothing must adhere to the dress code.

For 2024: What is the Black & White Ball Mask Policy?

During all Black & White Ball lessons and events, we will have the following guidelines:

  • Inside the ballroom: Mask required.
    • At a minimum, a medical procedure/3-ply mask is required. N95/KF94/KN95 masks are recommended and can be provided while supplies last.
  • Lobby: Mask optional.
  • For special accommodation requests, please contact Black & White Ball staff.

For 2024: How do I stay hydrated if I’m required to wear my mask all the time while in the ballroom?

Masks are required in the San Jose Ballroom for all Black & White Ball lessons and events. There will be a designated area just outside of the ballroom with seating where you can take your mask off for refreshment. We recommend planning on taking your breaks outside of the ballroom in this designated space.

For 2024: Why are masks still required?

While the convention as a whole has adjusted to a Masks Strongly Recommended guideline with some exceptions, we chose to continue utilizing protective measures that have been proven to help our immunocompromised attendees and staff until we can make accommodations for them next year. This decision was informed by multiple discussions with medical professionals and engineers.

Due to prolonged time in confined spaces, the close proximity and density of participants at our events, airflow limitations of the ballroom, the amount of physical exertion involved in dancing, and keeping our immunocompromised community in mind, our staff collectively chose to maintain our policy for this year. We appreciate your cooperation in keeping our ballroom a low-risk space for everyone!

What are the demonstrations at the Ball? Why do we have them?

The demonstrations performed at the Black & White Ball have two purposes. The first is to give your dancing feet a little break! Many people end up staying the entire six hours, so it’s our way of making sure you rest and stay hydrated. The second is to give the opportunity to see what live dance performances can be like! 

The demonstrations are performed by our staff or special guests, and are a mix of improvised and choreographed performances of varying styles just for you! 

Do I need to bring a dance partner to the lessons/Ball?

No. You are welcome to bring a partner or come by yourself.

The lessons will allow plenty of opportunities to rotate partners, so you will be able to meet many dance partners during that time!

At the Black & White Ball, we will also be hosting several mixers! These are great opportunities to meet and dance with many other attendees.

I’ve already taken all of the beginner lessons. What can I do?

You’re welcome to sign up for private lessons for a more advanced lesson! Our staff is available throughout the weekend to provide private lessons based on your skill level in whatever styles you would like to learn. See the staff at the DJ booth for more information.

Do I need to sign up for private lessons?

Private lessons are available throughout the weekend on a first come, first served basis. In order to guarantee there is an instructor available to teach what dance you want to learn, it is best to sign up at the DJ booth ahead of time. Drop-in private lessons are also available. See the staff at the DJ booth for more information.

Why is dancing individually broken up on the floor?

The Black & White Ball was envisioned to promote partner dancing, so we strive to provide as many opportunities as possible to learn about partner dancing and an experience comparable to what you would find at conventions devoted to it.

We offer over 24 hours’ worth of group and private instruction throughout the weekend in a wide variety of styles such as waltz, salsa, West Coast swing, and more.

We provide a real dance floor used at ballroom, swing, and Latin dance competitions. While we regret discouraging your full creative expression on the dance floor, please bear in mind that your actions on the floor may interfere with those people who were putting in the time and effort to dance with a partner. There are also other dances at FanimeCon that can accommodate your preference, whether you like dancing with or without a partner.

If dancing individually is broken up, why do we have line dances?

Some dances are just too much fun to leave out! We have included the Tokyo Polka and El Caballo Dorado line dances into our lessons and playlist, and have found that adding them in mixes it up perfectly.

We also have a song dedicated to those who would like to make a conga line! We encourage conga lines during this song only, due to potential hazards when partner and non-partner dancing are mixed.

Who are the staff members of the Black & White Ball?

We are a group of people who teach a variety of styles of partner dancing.

Some of our staff are students who are learning or are fully involved in dance, some are hobbyists, some teach dance for a living, some actively compete at dance competitions, and some don’t dance but are enthusiasts of the Black & White Ball. All are equally important in making the Black & White Ball lessons and events happen.

Since we are diverse in appearance and expression, we have taken to wearing teal armbands or flower boutonnieres to help identify ourselves. While we will be roaming the Ball to ensure the event runs smoothly, we are also there to have fun!

Can I request a song at the Ball? Where can I make my request?

Song requests can be made on the forums, through social media outlets, or by emailing

Requests cannot be taken during FanimeCon. This is because we finalize the playlist before the weekend itself. If you take a look at our previous playlists on the forums (listed in our music request thread), you will notice a wide range of genres, from Asian pop, to 8-bit game themes, to songs from our MusicFest guests of honor, and songs that relate to our yearly theme.

What we look for in every song is a distinguishable beat, melody characteristics for the styles of dances we have in mind, and a speed suitable for novice dancers. There are always a few songs suitable for advanced dancers as well!

What if I don’t like the music that was played at the Black & White Ball?

When it comes to the playlist, we try our best to achieve diversity and danceability.

The playlist is reviewed by the Black & White Ball staff to make sure it flows well and avoids repetition. Please bear in mind that the playlist has to cover 18 different styles of dance–29 if you include styles we also teach during private lessons!–some of which are mutually exclusive with regard to the type of music that can be played.

It is also entirely possible that you may have caught a portion of the playlist that covered a subsection of dance that you may not have liked.

If you have feedback regarding the playlist, please either mention it in the appropriate feedback threads or email us at Please be as specific as you can so we can improve our playlist in the future.

If I have a comment or concern, how do I get in touch with someone in charge?

The Head and/or the Seconds of the Black & White Ball will be present during all lessons, the Decompression Dance Party, Stage Zero demonstrations, and the Black & White Ball itself. If you would like to speak with the Head or Seconds, you are welcome to ask any Black & White Ball staff members at the DJ booth to help you locate them.

Feel free to come up and chat–we love hearing from you! The staff is constantly taking notes during the weekend on ways we can improve, so we appreciate all feedback given to us.

If you have additional comments, please post in the appropriate feedback threads or email

What if I have another question that hasn’t been asked yet?

Please email us at and we will get back to you as soon as we can!