Etiquette for Social Dancing

Social dancing is great because unlike big performances or competitions, you really don’t have to worry about rules or looking perfect.  However, there are certain details about social dancing that are beneficial for people to pay attention to.  Most of these details aren’t absolutely essential for a night of dancing, but they can help smooth out your dancing.  These additional bits of dance knowledge will be very impressive to your dance partners, as well!  So, here are some tips about dance etiquette that you may find very useful!

Ask Someone to Dance

This point may seem obvious to some, but simply asking for a person to dance with you can make you seem like so much more of a gentleman or lady.  If you prefer to be asked instead of asking, then there’s nothing wrong with that!  Then again, don’t be afraid to take initiative every once and a while and muster up some courage to ask first.  Don’t feel bad if someone turns you down; they just may not feel like dancing, so don’t take it personally.  You can always ask someone else!

Most importantly, always remember to verbally ask someone to dance if you do not know them well enough.  It can be rude to just start dancing with a person if they haven’t given you permission to dance with them.  A few good manners can go a long way!

Use Proper Dance Frame

Another thing that can be very impressive to your partner is if you use proper dance frame.  If you don’t already know, proper frame involves the leads using their left hand to guide their partners through movements.  For most dances that aren’t done in a two-hand hold, the lead will always hold his partner’s right hand with his left hand.  The follower’s left hand will be on top of the lead’s shoulder and his right hand should be placed on her shoulder blade.  If you do use proper frame, it will make the process of leading and following so much easier.  Your dancing will look nicer, too!

Dance through Entire Song

This point may seem apparent as well, but I’ve seen many people start dancing with someone and then just leave them on the floor only after a minute or so.  You always want to make sure that you dance through a whole song with your partner before you leave them.  Even if you only know a few steps of a dance, it’s nicer to continue until the song is over.  For instance, if the only steps in the Rumba you know are the box and underarm turn, that’s completely fine!  You can keep doing boxes and underarm turns throughout the song.  Don’t ever think that the steps that you have aren’t enough.  People will be happy just to dance with you.  Also, doing a limited number of steps can be a more relaxing experience.  This way, you might be able to squeeze in some conversation! 

Follow the Line of Dance

If you end up doing a dance that involves travelling around the floor (typically Smooth/Standard dances), then it’s good to remember to follow the line of dance.  In ballroom, the “line of dance” refers to the direction in which dancers are supposed to travel.  All dancers need to travel counter-clockwise on the floor in order to avoid collisions.  It’s kind of like a traffic pattern for dancing!  Smooth and Standard dances like Foxtrot, Waltz, and Tango will always progress in a counter-clockwise direction, but other dances like Merengue may move in that direction as well.

Another good thing you should know about the dance floor is where to place yourself.  If you are doing a progressive dance and you are a slow-moving dancer, try to stay near the inner part of the dance floor.  On the other hand, if you know you are quick on your feet, stay near the outside of the floor.  Try to imagine that the dance floor is one big circle that you need to rotate around.

Be Polite and Thank Your Dance Partner

This element also kind of goes without saying, but you should always thank your partner after you dance with them.  It’s just a kind and courteous thing to do, especially if you have never danced with them before.  You want to make sure that they know you appreciate dancing with them.

One last general point to keep in mind is to always be polite to your partner.  Even if you have more experience than your dance partner, don’t make them feel bad for not knowing certain moves.  The point of social dancing is to have fun with old and new friends, not to judge or criticize.


Happy Dancing! ^_^