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Spell's Dancewear: The classy little dance shop of Nashville

Dancers have to buy dozens of pairs of shoes over the years.
Dancers have to buy dozens of pairs of shoes over the years.
Rachel Hoover

Almost any dancer in Nashville has at one time or another gone to Spell's for something: shoes, tights, leotards, a new dance bag, or a gift card for a fellow dancer's birthday. This store, while often not the cheapest, is the shop with the most widely-respected name in the city, and is located close to the heart of Nashville's dancing world.

Spell's Dancewear has been in business since 1978, and now has two locations in the Nashville area, one in Brentwood on Franklin Road and the other in Green Hills by the Cheesecake Factory. The cozy shop is filled with racks of every leotard imaginable, a plethora of styles of tights, and all kinds of other dance-related articles, from skirts to hair nets to Therabands. The helpful employees are willing to fit any customer in a new pair of shoes, or assist in finding that specific thing your dance teacher told you to buy for the show tomorrow. If they don't have your size, they are willing to order it and call you when it comes in. This sounds like customer service at its best.

Some dancers have had a little bit of an awkward experience with the shop. Occasionally, what a Spell's employee thinks is a good fit in a pair of shoes isn't the same as what the wearer thinks is a good fit, and sometimes the prices are far higher than they would be elsewhere. Still, the store can't be beat for convenience, whether you dance at Nashville Ballet, Centennial Youth Ballet, or Belmont University. (The Green Hills location is about 2-4 miles from each.) They sell all the basics and lots more, and the employees are knowledgeable about dance products and the preferences of many dance schools and teachers in the area. Many young aspiring ballerinas prefer Spell's to almost any place besides the dance studio. It is a little like heaven on earth to a bunheaded girl who loves to dance.

Nowadays, online shopping, particularly through Discount Dance Supply, is most people's preferred alternative to an actual dancewear store. The prices are often lower, and things like shoe elastic and ribbons can be purchased in bulk. However, some things are still better done in a little shop with real people. A pointe shoe fitting is necessary for at least your first pair, and buying a new leotard is often a better experience if it can be tried on without worrying about having to ship it back if it doesn't fit. In emergencies, when the show must go on without waiting for UPS, being able to grab something quickly is a huge plus. Not to mention, there are some of us who like to just browse, feeling the satin and knit and smelling that certain spandex-and-leather smell that nowhere but a dance shop has. Places like Spell's will be around for a long time yet.