Social Dance Etiquette
By Jean Krupa
Social dancing is one of life's opportunities for pure fun. However, it is important to remember that dancing is a social activity which requires personal as well as physical grace. Being a considerate and thoughtful dance partner can ensure a wonderful experience. Dance courtesy is just as important as dance technique and like technique it can be learned.
Rejection stinks ...
When you ask someone to dance, you want them to say yes. But sometimes, without even knowing it, you can do things that make people never want to dance with you again. Because the dance scene is usually friendly, partners will be forgiving if the rules you break are not too bad.
How to ask?
When asking someone to dance, make eye contact, offer your hand, and ask clearly, "May I have this dance?", "May I have this Waltz / Rumba / Foxtrot/ etc.", "Would you like to dance?" or simply "Shall we dance?"
In the past it was tradition that men asked women to dance but, this custom has since changed. Today, women should feel equally comfortable asking a partner for a dance.
What to say ...
When someone asks you to dance, your response should be, "Yes, Thank you, I'd love to." In a social dance environment, it is customary to say "yes" when asked to dance. In order for dancing to be a cheerful activity, it is important that social dancers be supportive and kind to each other at all skill levels.
Being Declined ...
The first thing to do if one is turned down for a dance is to take the excuse at face value. A typical social dance can be two to three hours long, and some do not have the stamina of non-stop dancing. Everyone has to take a break once in a while, and that means possibly turning down one or two people each time one takes a break. Do not get discouraged if you are turned down once or twice. However, since social dancers are generally nice and polite, being repeatedly declined can be a signal. In that case, it is a good idea to examine one's dancing, social interactions and personal hygiene to see if anything is wrong.
On the other hand ...
Dancers seek those who say "yes". Being turned down for a dance is never fun. If you decline dances, or if you look stern, or hard to please, your chances of being asked to dance will be reduced.
You Dance Divinely!
During the dance, be sure to be aware of your partner. Smile and make eye contact, but don't stare. It is fun to dance with a partner who is gracious and appreciative.
At the end of the dance ...
When the dance has finished and before parting, ALWAYS say "THANK YOU" to your partner and begin to escort them off the floor. The proper answer to "Thank you!" on the dance floor is: "Thank you!" The point is that "thanks" is not due to a favor, but to politeness.
If you enjoyed the dance, let your partner know. Compliment your partner on her/his dancing. Be generous, even if he/she is not the greatest of dancers. Be specific about it if you can: "I really enjoyed that double turn. You led/followed that beautifully!" If you enjoyed it so much that you would like to have another dance with him/her again, this is a good time to mention it: "This Waltz went really great! I'd like to try a Cha-Cha with you later."
Leaving the floor ...
When a song comes to an end tradition requires the gentleman take the lady back to her seat at the end of the dance. While this custom is linked to the tradition of gentlemen asking ladies for a dance, it is still a nice touch. Avoid stopping to chat immediately after exiting the dance floor in order to prevent blocking the floor.
Be personable, smile, and make eye contact with your partner. Try to project a warm and positive image on the dance floor, even if that is not your personal style. Many of us lead hectic lives; having a difficult and tiring day, however, is not an acceptable excuse for depressing or unpleasant behavior on the dance floor. Once one asks or accepts a dance, it is important to be outwardly positive, even if you are not particularly feeling very upbeat.
In a social dance situation it is appropriate to dance with a variety of people. Some people prefer certain dance partners, but this should not prevent them from accepting an offer to dance from a new person. If the same person asks you to dance repeatedly, for several dances in a row, it is acceptable to tell that person, "thank you, but I'd like to meet and dance with some other people for a while. I'll be happy to dance with you again later in the evening"
Parting thoughts ...
Todays beginners will be the good dancers of tomorrow, so be nice and dance with them.
Do not decline a dance unless you absolutely have to. Having declined a dance, you cannot dance the same song with someone else.
Smile, be warm, be personable and most of all be nice. Be determined not to let small things spoil your evening of dancing. To make friends while dancing, you would be surprised how far a smile and hello can go.
And lastly, men, be a gentleman and escort the lady back to her seat... See you on the dance floor.