Enchantment Under the Sea: Some A-Camp Dance Style Ideas

Autostraddle’s annual A-Camp event is taking place in less than two weeks, which means its time for an annual ritual known as “deciding what to wear to the last-night dance.” If you’re a camper and this concept panics you, never fear — there’s always a solid contingent of attendees just wearing whatever. But if you never shy away from an opportunity to develop a costume of the day, then boy are you in luck.

If you’ve seen “Back to the Future,” then the words “Enchantment Under the Sea” will resonate deeply within you, and surprise: the human body is 60% water, which means wherever these words are resonating, it’s probably full of water or at least water-adjacent. If you haven’t seen “Back to the Future,” then wow you should go see it! It’s important, Marty McFly is a seminal lesbian fashion icon. (If you’d like to forego anything sea-adjacent and just dress as Marty McFly, there are some tips in this post.)

A-Camp Co-Directors Marni and Robin have suggested this dance theme at least five  times before but it’s never really “caught on,” unlike a fish you are trying to catch and successfully catch. This year though, we decided to reel that sucker in. Robin is going to live her dreams in #20GAYTEEN with an Under the Sea all-day festival and then this great dance!! I can’t wait!

Femme & Flowy Under the Sea Queen

This is sort of what I imagine it feels like to be resplendent, and also gliding through the ocean powered by rays of glittery sunshine.

Getting Pantsy

How about this: pair a white (black or grey) shirt or bralette or halter with blue pants! Instant UNDER THE SEA vibes. You could imagine that your body is under the sea, and your top is over the sea, and that’s why your legs are “the color of the sea.” In truth, most seas are not actually blue, but what is these days you know?

Shore Club Chill

Not all of us are mermaids or pirates. Some of us are just hanging out, floating a little, maybe doing a few backstrokes, getting our tan, having a fruity drink.

Sea it in Print: Masc

This is a great year for button-up short-sleeved shirts with hot prints, because this is the year that Hayley Kiyoko gave the world the music video for “Curious,” in which she is sporting that exact attire. Let’s be honest, this has been a hot look for a minute. But is it a coincidence that Wildfang decided this would be the year to make a dolphin-print short/shirt set? It’s not. Bless us, everyone!

Sea it in Print: Femme

It’s true that Sarah Sarwar and I had a BUSINESS LUNCH with a kickass queer girl from ModCloth a few months back, but at that point we did not know the dance theme at all, so it is obviously a pure coincidence, but also fated in the stars, that ModCloth decided to basically devote their spring/summer collection to things you could wear to the A-Camp dance. Also, they’re super size-inclusive — almost everything included here is offered from XXS to 4X.

Little Mermaids

If you’re a certain type of person, you saw the name of this dance theme and thought OH GOOD, I HAVE MY ARIEL SWIMSUIT FROM DISNEY GAY DAYS AROUND HERE SOMEWHERE. Nobody’s gonna tell you that you can’t wear a swimsuit to a dance, it’s A-Camp. Or, you could pair a flashy mermaid-themed top or bottom with a simpler top or bottom — like a black skater skirt with silver-scaled halter, or a black crop-top with turquoise scaled leggings.

Sea Prince

Show up Prince Eric with some authentic lesbian chivalry, why don’t you? A little sea-side pirate flair in the top won’t hurt a thing.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3199 articles for us.


  1. No suggestions for how to dress up as “Jenny Schecter and her Manatees”? It’s a great couples costume!
    Autostraddle I’m so disappointed…

  2. I considered going as an upside-down house, You know, an underwater mortgage. But only accounting nerds like me would get it…

  3. I know pirates are OVER the sea and not UNDER it, but I have this kick ass corset and could do like a pirate lady thing…

    • PIRATES ARE ENCOURAGED because they are UPON the sea, they are basically sea creatures, sea-adjacent, sea-associated

    • Also I feel like a lot of pirates by reputation do seem to fall into (and rapidly under) the sea…

    • I used to illegally download MP3s
      Should I dress up as a Napster Pirate?

  4. I’m going through a breakup and I’m a first-time camper and I’m scared as the dickens for all of it and have decided to heap ALL of that emotion and anxiety into stressing about camp clothing, but the second you announced camp theme I WAS READY. Turns out I have a full-length, “wow my ass looks great” mermaid skirt and it’s finally time for the world to see it.


    Also, you’re welcome.

  5. Took a lil dive into my moms insane costume collection.

    This mermaid costume is missing the tail.

    And this Ursula costume will most certainly not fit in my bag.

    Back to the drawing board.


    Also I have been eyeing one of those Modcloth dresses for awhile so I will take this as a sign to get it.


    • Even better with properly and evenly apply sunscreen.

      I’ve seen things that cannot be unseen, y’all please use sunscreen
      A shoulder isn’t the only thing that can peel, think about how that might feel

  8. I guess I’m a very different type of certain person because I saw “Under the Sea” dance theme and thought FISHNET.

    • You are not alone! I’m bringing a pair of blue fishnet sleeves. Though they don’t really match my dance outfit so I might wear them during the day instead. But yes I had the same thought.

      • Was thinking more like fishnet dress or fishnet shirt under a suit jacket or blazer rather than fishnet accessories.

  9. My costume for Under the Sea will be “Queer Girl Drowns in Pool after being Overwhelmed by Awesome Queers at A-Camp”. Look out for my pool noodle and TomboyX bathing suit.

  10. I thought sailor outfit – I love sailor inspired shirts and dresses, especially the vintage ones.

    And I love wearing blues and greens in the summer. Those flirty, flowy sundresses are just lovely.

  11. Damn wish I could go, start saving now, maybe next year, depending on when it is and if school is done.

  12. I want to see similar themed ideas for our pets. I know some of you already have these in your closet ;)Ready… GO!

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