Just as in all other areas of life, there are rules of etiquette that govern the dance environment and community. Here are a few of the basics which if followed, should avoid hurt feelings, blunders and embarrassment.
Follow the correct line of dance which is counter clockwise in the smooth dances. If you are a slower or beginner dancer, move to the inside lane so faster dancers or those taking larger steps can move along the outside lane of traffic.
If you are going to chat with others, please move off the dance floor to talk to avoid being an obstacle to other dancers.
Be considerate of other couples on the dance floor, especially when the floor is crowded. Dance “smaller” and make steps more compact. If you accidentally collide, apologize and make sure the other person is ok before resuming dancing.
Do not teach on the dance floor unless you are clearly helping someone learn a step or dance. This can be embarassing and humiliating. Leaders, if you are not sure if your partner knows a move, ask if she know it and then agree on whether or not to try it. If you are unsure of her skill level, start with more basic steps and progress according to her ability but avoid dancing more difficult steps that will embarrass or frustrate her if she cannot follow them. Ladies, if you are dancing with a man who is a beginner, avoid teaching him unless he has asked for help or unless you have a relationship with him in which you know he appreciates that. In most cases, just follow what you feel and if he realizes he mislead it, he may ask you what he misled. It’s also appropriate to ask him if he minds if you give him some feedback.
Most of the time, a request for a dance should be accepted since everyone is there to dance. If you must decline, sit out for the remainder of that song and don’t accept another request for the same song. That is guaranteed to hurt some feelings.
Do not monopolize a parner on the dance floor if you are dancing with a number of different people. Remember that many eager dancers are waiting for an opportunity to dance.
Understand that some couples prefer to dance only with their partner. Remember everyone is different and enjoys different aspects of a dance.
Think about making your partner happy and enjoying your partner during the song you are dancing together. Everyone wants to dance with someone who is enthusiastic, appreciative and fun. Smile, enjoy the dance and thank your partner.
Dancing should never cause physical pain. If your partner is unintentionally causing you pain, stop dancing briefly and kindly let them know they are squeezing your hand too tightly or cranking your arm causing you shoulder pain, etc. If your partner dismisses your request or continues the behavior, say, “Thank you, but I’d like to stop now.” Ladies, protect your shoulders from hyperextension injuries by keeping your elbows in front of your ribs when turning and throughout the dance.
Everyone, everyone makes mistakes in dancing. If you make a mistake, relax, admit it and don’t dwell on it. It’s unpleasant to dance with someone who is self-critical, puts themselves down and over analyzes what they did wrong.
Remember to be friendly especially to new dancers. Dave and I well remember a dance we attended out of state where the floor was wonderfully large, the music exciting and danceable, the snacks delicious, the dancers graceful and beautiful to watch, and yet we only had an “ok” time because no one interacted with us except one couple even though we tried to engage with several folks. We realized something was missing – the people were not friendly. We had no desire to return to that lovely but unsociable venue. It made us appreciate more than ever, the friendly dancers here in Roanoke who welcome newcomers and introduce themselves. Friendliness, warmth and a welcoming attitude are a key to enjoyment for all.