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Social Dance Etiquette Tips ©

By: Jeannie Tucker:

Dance etiquette is a set of guidelines that help us navigate the social dance scene. It can make the difference between a pleasant or unpleasant dancing experience and the difference between people wanting or not wanting to dance with you.

Here are a few tips to help make your dancing experience more enjoyable:

1. Even your closest friends will hesitate to discuss hygiene problems with you. So we will just tell everyone: Brush your teeth and breath mints, shower and use deodorant, avoid strong foods like garlic or onions in your meal before going out to dance and take a towel and perhaps a change of clothing with you.

2. On the floor, be considerate. Utilize good floor-craft. Men protect your not use them as battering rams. If you run into another couple on the floor it is appropriate to apologize. Aerials and large sweeping dance steps should not be used socially where other dancers may get injured.

3. Ask someone new to dance. Remember that today's beginners will be the good dancers of tomorrow, so be nice to them and dance with them.

4. Those who tend to perspire should bring a hand towel to dry themselves with. Also, sometimes men will bring another shirt to change into if their original one gets saturated with perspiration.

5. Today's beginners will be the good dancers of tomorrow, so be courteous, respectful and dance with them. Smile! It is beneficial to dance with people of all experience levels. In the context of enhancing your skills, dancing with more experienced dancers often helps you to improve. Similarly, dancing with less experienced dancers is a prime opportunity for you to work on your lead/follow skills. Ideally, you should be able to lead/follow with anyone. In the context of having fun, you can have fun dancing with anybody and everybody. In short, ask everybody you can to dance, there is no point in limiting yourself.

6. Dance to the level of your partner. Avoid patterns that your partner can't do. For leaders, this means leading moves that keep your follower balanced, centered and make her feel like she is dancing well. For followers, it means to stay within the moves lead. Don't add timing changes or embellishment that distracts your leader and makes him feel less capable than you. The dancer of choice always makes his/her partner feel like the best dancer in the room.

7. Try to follow the Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated.

8. It is not necessary to apologize to your partner if a particular move is not executed perfectly. The point is not to have a perfect dance, but to have fun. However, if your mistake may have physically hurt your partner, please apologize and make sure they are okay.

9. Notice what the person is doing before you ask them to dance. Be wary of interrupting conversations. Ask them in a polite way like: "May I have this dance?" "Would you like to dance?" "Care to dance?" Would you like to Salsa/Two-step/Swing?" Courtesy is always in style!

10. When starting a dance, especially with someone you don't know, take it slow. Everyone dances differently, so take your time and get to know the other person by starting off with less complex moves.

11. How to dress when out dancing is a matter of trying to fit in with the norms of the particular dance community that you want to belong to. Try to dress comfortable but with the style standards of that dance in mind. Keep clothing functional and easy to move in.

12. If you turn down a dance, do not dance that dance with someone else. It is not polite. If someone else asks you to dance wait until the next one.

13. If possible, walk the follower back to his/her seat. Thank-you is always a good end and maybe a positive comment about their dance.

14. Do not offer instruction or dance advise unless it is solicited and even then, do so in moderation. Unless you are a professional coach or instructor, you do not possess the insight into what their needs really are. As a coach, I do not offer advice when out social dancing because I assume that everyone is out to just relax and enjoy his or her evening like I am. There is a time for teaching, practicing and just enjoying. Keep that in perspective.

Remember that there is really no such thing as a "perfect dance". It is relative and a flawless dance should not be your goal. A wonderful dance experience should. As you improve as a dancer you realize that getting better is about recovery and how to fix anything that comes up. Just like in a verbal conversation we always adjust to the person we a talking with. It is a conformity challenge. Enjoy and try to make everyone you meet and dance with feel good. It will come back to you ten fold.

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