Some may think it quite old-fashioned to be given instruction on proper etiquette in the ballroom. While it’s true that some of the suggestions are rooted in a time where there were many rules for behavior in social situations, I do think that many of those guidelines can still be used today to make the experience at a dance more enjoyable for everyone. Some of the rules, of course, are different now. For example, women are just as welcome to ask a man to dance and not have to wait to be asked by the man. In the past, it would that would have been inappropriate. So, yes, some of the “rules” have changed with the changing times. Most of the rules we have are really for safety purposes like how to travel around the floor without colliding. And other rules are simply common sense and just reminders to be a pleasant and friendly person that others might like to dance with. So, here are some of the tips I think will help all of us have a fun time at a ballroom social.
- Be Friendly, smile and make eye contact with the person you are dancing with. If it’s the first time you are dancing with that person, you should introduce yourself and tell them your name. Duh! Hopefully they will tell you their name in return! After that, it’s about the dancing, so do not continue to ask personal questions that are inappropriate. You can ask about their dancing like their favorite dance, or where they learned to dance, but don’t ask them non-dance related information. While dancing, it is best to keep talking to a minimum. Focus on the dance, the music, and your partner. Too much talking while dancing is distracting. Plus, the music can be quite loud, and your partner will keep saying, Huh? What? I can’t hear you! So, just dance! At the end of the dance, say thank you! It is recommended you walk your partner to the edge of the dance floor at the end of the dance. Don’t just leave them stranded there in the middle of the floor. Unless of course, someone has come running out to ask them to dance for the next song, which sometimes happens if you are dancing with a popular dancer.
- Do not monopolize a partner. It is really not appropriate to hold a dancer hostage, dance after dance. After one dance, thank the person, and let them move on to other partners. You can ask them to dance again a little while later if you found dancing with them enjoyable.
- If you ask someone to dance, and they say no, respect that and simply say thanks. Don’t ask why! or act annoyed. That is just plain weird!
- If someone asks you to dance, and you say no, it’s not appropriate to then say yes to the next person who asks you during that same song. If you don’t want to dance to that song, then don’t say no to one person, and yes to another because it’s not very nice. If you had promised someone a dance, for example, if you had told someone that you would dance with them the next time a waltz comes on, then simply tell the person who asks you, “Oh, I’m sorry! I had promised so and so the next waltz. Please ask me to dance again for another song. Thank you.” And then go find the promised waltz partner.
- When you are dancing with someone, and they don’t know the step you are trying to do, it’s not polite to try to teach them on the dance floor. It’s a social, not a dance lesson! Never try to teach or correct your partner on the dance floor. Do steps that are comfortable for the level of your partner.
- Don’t be a show-off or try to do steps that are too big for the space. If the floor is crowded, change your steps so they fit comfortably in the space and so you don’t bump into or run over other dancers.
- Grooming is an important part of dance socials. You will be in close contact with others. Make sure to wear clean clothes, have clean hands, wear deodorant (but don’t bathe in cologne!), and have fresh breath. If you sweat a lot, bring an extra shirt to change into at some point during the social, and bring a clean, small towel to pat the sweat off your face in between dances. It’s normal to sweat during vigorous dancing, but it is really unpleasant to drip and spray your sweat on your dance partner.
- Follow the line of dance rules of the dance floor. This is very important. If you are doing a swing, while others are doing a foxtrot, please stay in the center of the floor so you do not block the path of the moving dancers. All traveling dances, move counter clock-wise around the floor. Never move in the opposite direction. Accidents can happen that way. If you happen to bump into someone, say excuse me or sorry. And do not bump into them a second time!
I hope these tips will help you and others have a wonderful experience at dance socials! If you have a good time, be sure to tell the organizer and the DJ that you enjoyed the party so they will keep on having them. It’s a wonderful experience to make social contact with others in real life, and not just in the virtual world on the internet, so remember to exercise your social muscles at your next dance social!