Dance Etiquette: During the Dance

Following dance floor etiquette helps everyone to have fun. Simply put, it means being courteous and respectful to those around you. It's more important for a social dancer to be a considerate and thoughtful partner than to be a technically expert dancer. Following the rules and suggestions given here will help you to become a successful and appreciated dance partner.

Stay Focused
Be aware of your partner. Smile and make eye contact with your partner (but don't stare). Always remain focused on your partner while you're dancing; be aware of how they're moving and what they're doing. Not only is this great dance technique, but it makes the dance more fun for both of you. It's a real drag to dance with a partner who seems oblivious to you.

During the Dance
Always dance at your partner's level. If you are unfamiliar with your partner, start basic and work up. The goals are for both individuals to have fun and to dance together - not outdo anyone or to show off how much you know.

No Unsolicited Teaching on the Floor
NEVER offer instruction, unless your partner explicitly demands that you do so. (Do all instructing on the sidelines, by the way, never on the dance floor.)

Personal Space
You may see some dancers use a very close dance position - particularly for Balboa or blues dancing. Be aware that not everyone is comfortable dancing close to someone he or she might not know. As a general rule, the dancer who needs the most personal space should set the distance in closed position. Since experienced dancers are usually more comfortable with a variety of dance positions, they must pay particular attention to giving less experienced dancers enough space. When leading, you should try to sense how much space your partner needs. If you try to lead your partner into Balboa and you sense resistance, don't try to force it-simply switch to another dance or dance position. When following, the left hand can be useful to help keep your partner at the distance you prefer; you are never obligated to dance closer than you feel comfortable.

Never Criticize
Please don't criticize your dance partner or correct them on the dance floor. We all learn at different speeds and each of us has our own quirks and weaknesses; we need to remain supportive to one another. Know that your partner is doing the best that they can, and try to make their dance as enjoyable as possible. And don't forget - it's possible that the mistake was yours...

However, if your partner is physically hurting you, you should let them know - as tactfully as possible. If they continue hurting you, it's appropriate to stop dancing with them (for more info, see "Touchy Issues" below).