Dancing etiquette (short version)

What to Do (and not do)

o Take care of personal hygiene.  For your partner’s sake, avoid eating garlic, onions, or spicy foods before you go dancing.  Carry an extra shirt/t-shirt (or two) with you to the dance, in case you need a change.  This is especially true at outside dances or dances in facilities that lack air conditioning.

o No unsolicited teaching (on both the social dance floor and at workshops).  It is extremely rude to presume you know more than an event attendee or your partner does (even if you do).  Trying to “help” someone by offering unsolicited teaching advice can hurt feelings and turn off new dancers.  Men seem to violate this rule much more than ladies.  I’ve heard lots of stories from very experienced followers about how a beginning dancer offered them “advice” or wondered aloud why they could not pick up a particular “flashy” move they were performing (it was normally because it was badly led!).  In my experience, most of the people that “teach” on the social dance floor are the ones that really shouldn’t.

o If you’re an “instructor”, you also should not “teach” at another event venue.  Once again, unsolicited teaching is bad form.

o No solicitating for other dance organizations (i.e. handing out flyers, cards, verbal solicitations, etc.) unless you have permission from the event organizer.

o Aerials, drops, and slides are best left for jam sessions, competitions, and performances.

o Ask others to dance.  Hey, dancing is a social activity!

o Applaud the band.  If it’s a live music venue, give the band a hand at the end of a song (assuming it was a song worthy of applause).  The band just doesn’t play for the money!  The more you applaud, the better they will feel and play.

o Share the dance floor.  Avoid getting too close to other couples, especially less experienced ones.

o Never blame a partner.  Regardless of who is at fault when a dancing mishap occurs, both parties are supposed to smile and go on.  This applies to the better dancer in particular, who bears a greater responsibility.

o Be considerate of other couples on the floor.  If you step on someone’s toes, say “Excuse me” even when it may not be your fault.

What to Wear.  Most swing dances are somewhat informal in a nature.  Comfort and safety are the primary considerations.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind (click here for more info on this area):

o Dress nicely.  Remember:  dancing is a social activity and you’re interacting with other people, so try to look like you care!  Think about it…guys, do you think women will want to dance with you or be attracted to you if you’re wearing ratty looking blue jeans, cargo pants, sweatpants and a dingy looking t-shirt?  Ladies, do you think guys will want to dance with or be attraced to a lady that looks frumpy and dowdy?  It bears repeating, for both guys and girls – dress nice!

o Choose your shoes carefully.  Be careful of sneakers or other shoes with rubber or spongy soles that can stick to the floor during turns and spins and cause ankle and knee injuries.

o Avoid sleeveless shirts and tank tops.  It’s really not pleasant to have to touch the damp skin of a partner.

o Sleeves that are baggy can be a problem, because dancers need access to their partner’s back, and hands may get caught in baggy sleeves.

o Accessories like big rings, watches, brooches, loose/long necklaces, and big belt buckles can be hazardous on the dance floor.  They can catch in partner’s clothing, scratch and bruise, and are in general a nuisance.

o Gentlemen:  if you have no place to leave your keys and loose change, carry them in the LEFT pocket of your trousers.  This makes it less likely to bruise your partner. Ladies, use your right pocket.

o Long hair should be put up or tied in a ponytail.  It is difficult to get into closed dance position when the lady has long flowing hair (hair gets caught in the gentleman’s right hand).  It is also no fun to be hit in the face with flying hair during turns and spins, or for the guy to inhale the hair into his throat.