12 Rules of Social Dance Etiquette

Social Dance Etiquette:

If there’s someone you want to dance with, you should feel free to go and ask them to dance.  This is especially true for beginners – don’t be afraid to ask someone to dance.  Most people are generally glad to have an opportunity to dance – even with a beginner.  Although tradition has men asking women to dance, there’s absolutely nothing to stop women from asking men to dance!

  1. Always accept invitations to dance unless you don’t know the dance in question or if you are sitting out and taking a break.  If sitting out, you should not accept an invitation from another person.  You can also decline if you have already promised the dance to someone else, but you should avoid setting up many dances in advance.  If you must decline, it’s nice, but not required, to provide a reason.
  2. If there’s a group of people together and you want to ask one of them to dance, be clear as to whom you are asking to dance.  It can be embarrassing for people to think they have been asked to dance only to find out they weren’t.  Making direct eye contact and holding out your hand can help make your intentions clear.  Women can increase their opportunities to dance if they stand in groups of two or three.  It can be intimidating for a man to approach a large group of women.
  3. If your are not previously acquainted with your partner, please introduce yourself when asking for a dance.
  4. Try to avoid monopolizing partners.  If you would really like to continue dancing with the same person, be absolutely certain that the other person feels the same way.
  5. If you can, avoid walking past people in order to ask someone else to dance.  It can make those not asked feel like they’ve been passed up.
  6. Be positive when you are out dancing on the dance floor.  Enjoy yourself.  That’s what dancing is all about.  Do not apologize to your dance partner for every single mistake you make.  Your partner may not have even noticed that you made a mistake!
  7. This might come as a surprise to people who are beginning dancers but most of the time, your skill level has less to do with whether someone will enjoy dancing with you than your attitude towards dancing and simply having a good time.
  8. Remember basic rules of personal hygiene.  Shower off the days sweat before coming and remember, if you plan to do a lot of dancing, a second shirt and breath mints go a long way towards insuring your partner’s comfort.
  9. The social dance floor is not a classroom.  Try not to give help or advice unless someone specifically asks you.  Don’t practice routines at social dances.
  10. Follow the line of dance.  Stay in the proper section of the dance floor.  Faster moving couples stay to the outside and slower moving or stationary couples stay to the inside, just like traffic.  Try to avoid stopping in the middle of the dance floor.
  11. Practice good floorcraft.  Adjust arm positions or steps to avoid hitting others.  If a collision occurs, apologize to the couple you collided with, no matter who is at fault.
  12. Always thank your partner after the dance is over and escort her back to where she was standing.  If her friends are no longer there, stay and visit with her for a moment.  Being polite goes a long way on the dance floor.

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