All human activities have etiquettes, and social dancing is no different. There are general etiquette rules that pertain to all forms of dancing–smooth, Texas Two-Step, Latin, even clubbing dance. Knowing these basic rules will make the dance floor experience pleasant for everyone.
Before Hitting the Stage
There is no easy way to put this: Please follow good hygiene. Bad breath and offensive body odors are frowned upon on the dance floor. Many dance fans will go so far as to avoid eating certain spicy foods on the days they plan to dance. At the very least, deodorant after a good shower and a swig of mouthwash will guarantee that you dance the night away without annoying your partner.
Clothing will vary by the kind of event – semi-formal, dressy casual, formal, even shorts— but can also vary by dance type. You may try to wear western wear for country line dancing or dark themed apparel for Tango. This is not required, but if you are a beginner, it is a great way to get accepted into a new dance community. There are a few thumb rules that apply to all dancing adventures:
- Dodge those big accessories that can get caught in your partner’s clothing or, worse, bruise, or scratch someone.
- It is prudent to avoid tennis shoes or any rubber-soled, spongy type footwear. These types of footwear tend to stick to the floor; if you are executing turns and spins, you can injure a knee or an ankle.
- Remember that dancing will demand a partner. It is not a good thing to touch someone’s damp, sticky skin, so avoid sleeveless dresses and shirts.
- Men should carry loose change and keys in their left pants pocket making it less likely to bruise their partner.
Asking someone to dance with you:
When asking anyone to dance with you, you should do so politely and accept a refusal just as reasonably. These days it is fair for women and men to request someone to dance with them. If you are lucky enough to be on the receiving end of an invite, remember that it is really rude to turn down a dance with someone for no reason and then accept an invitation from another partner on the same song.
Once a song is over, men should take women back to their seats or to wherever they were standing before the dance. If someone has just completed dancing, wait until they are entirely off the dance floor before requesting them back out again. Please do not jump on someone as they are leaving the dance floor.
Do not obstruct access to the dance floor by talking and standing or moving chairs into pathways. Dance spaces are usually overcrowded, so be considerate of others’ freedom.
Social dances are divided into two kinds – spot dances and progressive. Progressive dances travel the floor like the Foxtrot, Polka, and Waltz. Spot dances are danced in one spot and include Rumba, Salsa, and East Coast Swing. Dancers typically move counterclockwise around the floor in progressive dances. This is known as the dance line and is like an imaginary circle moving counterclockwise. In addition to the dance line, there are two lanes, the outside or fast lane and the inside or slow lane. Dances such as the Waltz, Tango, and Foxtrot are danced in the two outer lanes. Spot dances such as the Swing, Cha-Cha, or slow dancing are danced in the insides.
Novice dancers should move toward the outer or center edges, depending on the style of dance. While newbies should allow more space for more experienced dancers, it is equally rude for professional dancers to take floor space with special moves that force other dancers out of the path.
By following these simple dance etiquette rules, you are sure to have a fabulous time dancing the night away!