Follow these rules of dance etiquette,
and you’ll be a hit on the dance floor!
1. Maintain great dance hygiene.
- Do change your shirt often if you sweat a lot. While we all sweat when dancing up a storm (no shame!), it’s nevertheless unpleasant to touch someone else’s sweat-soaked clothing. So bring a few shirt changes. Your partners will love you for it!
- Do brush your teeth before a dance and help yourself to breath mints during the night. You may not think breath could be that big of a deal, especially if you’re not a closed-position dancer, but it’s amazing how easy it is to be overwhelmed by someone’s bad breath even from a few feet away. Don’t let it keep you from snagging your favorite partners!
- Do shower before a dance and use deodorant. Again, you wouldn’t want your body scent to be a deterrent to someone partnering with you. We recommend showering before a dance, using deodorant, and bringing extra deodorant with you to reapply when changing shirts (see above). Let your sweet scent match your sweet dance moves!
2. Be a safe dancer.
You are responsible for your own physical safety and that of others nearby; this is the art of floor-craft. Say, “sorry!” if you accidentally bump or step on another person. Do NOT perform aerials on the social dance floor. Consume alcohol responsibly, and if you have had too much to drink to dance safely, leave the dance floor.
3. Keep the “social” in social dance. Never offer advice/corrections to your partner’s dance technique on the social dance floor.
- The social dance floor is different from workshops, classes, and practice time in that it is for social dancing ONLY. This is the time to focus on having fun with dancers of all levels. It is a HUGE no-no to offer unsolicited feedback on the dance floor.
- Of course, if YOU would like feedback from your partner, you can always ask them politely if they would be willing to provide. Keep in mind however, that some dancers prefer to only have their “teaching eye” active during classes and workshops, and therefore may actually prefer to just enjoy a nice social dance with you without offering feedback. If that’s the case and you still would like advice from them, feel free to ask them if they offer private lessons (truly one of the best way to improve your dancing!).
4. Respond to your partner’s signals.
- You’re working hard to remember your own steps and moves, and trying to be musical, and keeping your bounce, and relaxing that arm, and and and…oh my gosh! Did you forget something?
- The most important part of a dance is your response to your partner. Are you paying attention to the signals that they’re sending? Was that a laugh and/or a look of joy? Terrific! That’s the best proof that you’re connecting well.
- Are they squirming in closed position? Did a grimace cross their face? Did they make a sound indicating pain?** If you are in doubt as to what might be going on, ASK! It is absolutely critical to learn to read these signals and respond appropriately, both for the safety and comfort of your partner, and for your own future as a sought-out dance partner.
5. Be welcoming and kind when asking or receiving requests for a dance.
- Be inclusive and invite others to dance.
- Accept offers to dance whenever you can. You are not obligated to give a reason if for some reason you decline a dance. However, you are expected to be polite when declining an offer. If you promise to dance with someone later on, honor that promise.
6. Dealing with the “no” when you ask someone to dance:
When someone says “no” to your request for a dance, run through this checklist first before determining that the person wanted to snub you:
Was the person breathing hard, sweaty, and/or hunkered over their water bottle? Chances are, they’re trying to catch their breath after a vigorous dance. Feel free to ask again later!
- Was the person engaged in conversation? Chances are, it was more than just small talk, and it would have been difficult to pick up the pieces of their thoughts if they took an interruption. Feel free to ask again later!
- Was that person intently watching other dancers/the band? Chances are, they were trying to pick up a new move by watching another couple and/or really enjoying the musicianship on that song. Feel free to ask again later!
- Did the person say no to you, and then a minute later say yes to someone else? This is a little more unusual. However, it may be that the person they’re dancing with was a friend who was leaving after that dance, so that was their last chance to dance with them for the night, exhausted or not. Feel free to ask again later!
Seriously though, we totally understand. When you’re in a new scene, asking anyone to dance is scary, and a “no” can leave you feeling hurt and discouraged. Even experienced dancers feel that way when walking onto a new scene. Beginner dancers have a tendency to underestimate what they bring to the dance partnership (you’ll have to trust us; it’s a lot!). You can fall pretty easily into feeling that the other person didn’t want to dance with you because you “weren’t good enough” (sometimes formulated as “they think they’re too good for me”). Here’s the secret though: a truly good dancer is one who sees what unique aspects their partner brings to the table (energy, joy, skill, etc.) and builds the dance on that foundation. And we at BSC know that and feel proud that our scene reflects it. So remember: don’t give up (on them or you). Feel free to ask again later!
THAT BEING SAID, there is an exception to the above scenarios that may provide important information for your dancing and the future of your happiness in our community. You may benefit from asking yourself the following:
- When dancing with this person before, did I notice whether they looked uncomfortable?
- Did I dance in closed position and feel some resistance?
- Did they look like they may have been in pain at any time?”
If so, then they may feel afraid to dance with you again for fear of being put in a physically painful** or personally uncomfortable position.
In that case, we highly suggest you double-check that you are not putting your partners in uncomfortable situations. And we can help! Find a BSC staff member, and ask them to set you up with one of our more experienced dancer-staff members. We will be happy to double-check your dance etiquette, so that you can feel confident asking anyone to dance.
**Remember, if you are concerned that you might be causing your partners physical pain or social discomfort, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to address these concerns ASAP! Be proactive, find a BSC staff member, and ask. We can help you pinpoint the problem safely.