Do’s and Don’t of Social Dancing

Dancing is a staple of many social activities conducted in public – weddings, social and business parties, dinner dates – and as such, is subject to the usual social conventions. Grace and charm are part of dance (and part of the fun!), and your personality is as well. Ballroom dancing can be active and passionate – think Salsa – or gentle and flowing, as in the Waltz. But whether the tempo is fast or slow, the attitude should always be the same – polite, cooperative and sensitive to one’s dance partner, whether they are familiar or someone new. So here are some dance do’s and don’ts that will make your experience on the dance floor more fun and enjoyable…

  • Do remember that these days, both women and men can feel equally inclined to ask others to dance. So don’t be shy ladies… if you want to dance with someone, just ask!
  • Don’t forget to smile – it makes everything and everyone feel more comfortable!
  • Don’t just extend a hand and say “Wanna dance?” You have only one chance to make a first impression. Make eye contact, flash your best smile and go for it. The old standbys are the best when asking a someone to share the dance floor with you. “Care to dance?” “May I have this dance?” Or, if the music indicates a particular style of dance coming up, a “Would you like to mambo?” is fine.
  • Do know that it’s good social manners to accept an invitation to dance, unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as (1) you have promised the dance to another partner, (2) you are tired or injured, (3) you were about to leave the event, or (4) if the person asking you to dance had made you feel uncomfortable in some way.
  • Do be polite and pleasant if you are declining a dance. Smile, and offer a simple, “Thanks, but I don’t know the dance” or “I’m going to sit this one out”. And declining an offer means not dancing that dance with anyone else – no matter who might ask you next.
  • Do plan on dancing to the entire song – it lets your partner know you value their time.
  • Do be considerate of others on the dance floor. Be mindful of the space in which you are operating. Don’t swing your elbows or steer your partner wildly across the dance floor. And remember to follow the line of dance when traveling around the dance floor – always counter-clockwise!
  • Do dance at your partner’s dance level – making them feel and look good is part of the fun on the dance floor! Leaders: giving your partner a solid lead so they feel comfortable and safe goes a long way.
  • Don’t show off or perform dips, drops, aerials or tricks during a social dance, even if you are both accomplished dancers. It’s inconsiderate and extremely dangerous.
  • Don’t use this dance opportunity to “teach” your partner dance steps…. especially if your partner hasn’t asked for any help. People can find it rude or annoying to be told “let me show you how,” or “no, you’re doing that wrong.” Dances have different styles, and dancers have different levels of ability. Be accommodating of any differences, and have fun with the experience.
  • Do apologize if you happen to bump into someone or step on their feet during a dance – regardless of whether it was your partner or someone else on the dance floor, or whose fault it was.
  • Don’t blame your partner for a gaff. No finger-pointing or blaming for a misstep. This is dance, not the Olympics. It’s social, not anti-social. Be kind, laugh it off and move on with the dance. It’s all part of the learning experience.
  • Do thank your partner for the dance at the end of the song, and escort them off the dance floor, to their next dance partner or to where they were when you asked them for the dance.
  • Do applaud the live band at the end of each song (if there is one). They’re there to make your evening special, and it’s gracious and polite to show them that you appreciate it.

And before you even arrive at the dance or social event, there are important things to consider:

  • Do pay special attention to good hygiene before attending a social dance. Shower or bathe in advance, remember to apply deodorant, and make your dance partners smile by maintaining good oral hygiene.
  • Do pay attention to how you dress as well. Wear clothing that’s appropriate for the event, and is comfortable for socializing and dancing. If you have longer hair and plan to do a lot of fast dancing, consider wearing your hair up so it doesn’t whip your partner in the face during turns or spins. And since some people have allergies or are bothered by strong scents, wear perfume and cologne in moderation.
  • Do consider taking dance lessons in advance at Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Our instructors and staff are talented, positive and caring people who create a warm, inspiring atmosphere and will help you become a comfortable, confident dancer – starting with your very first dance lesson. The time spent with the finest professional ballroom dance instructors will teach the proper steps and technique, and you will also learn from their demeanor how to work with a dance partner – and have lots of fun doing it!