Social Dance Etiquette

Most of this is just good manners, but just to clarify we’ve listed a few pointers below.

  • Asking for and accepting a dance: Be polite when asking for and accepting a dance. It is perfectly acceptable for a woman to ask a man to dance. Try not to turn down a dance just because you’re nervous, or you don’t know the person, or you think they’re better (or worse) than you: the single best way to improve your dancing, at whatever level, is to dance with different people with different styles.
    No-one has endless energy, so it is perfectly acceptable to refuse a dance on the grounds that you’re having a rest for a song (of course, it would be extremely bad form to then accept a dance with someone else during that same song). If you say “thanks, maybe later” then be good to your word.
    At the end of a dance, say thank you to your partner and walk with them off the floor – don’t just abandon each other as the last bars sound out!
  • Engage with your partner: Swing is partnered, so you should look like a partnership when you dance: use eye contact, smile, and be aware of your partner’s movements and style. The lead’s job is to make the follower look good, and the follower’s job is to tune in to the lead and follow.
    Make sure you dance with your partner too: you’re not trying to impress anyone else apart from him/her. Keep to their level, and focus on working as a pair: followers should follow the lead given, and the lead should be aware of responses from the follower and adjust accordingly.
    Should something go wrong and you make a mistake, just smile and KEEP DANCING – don’t stop mid-step, keep moving!
  • Dance to the music: Try to match your style to the music. Even if you’re doing the most basic steps, if you style to the music (and hit breaks or high points) you?ll look like an expert.
  • Floor craft: It is the lead’s responsibility to steer the couple around the floor and away from any potential hazards (chairs, spilt drinks, other people’s feet, etc.). Always turn and apologise for any bumps, even if it’s not your fault.
  • Cleanliness: See comments in the Classes section. At a social event, there is more constant dancing so you are likely to get hotter. Make sure you allow yourself some cooling-down time in between tracks. Consider bringing a change of shirt or small towel, if necessary.
  • Smile – you’re having fun!: Even if you’re concentrating really hard on your dancing, or even if you’re not having that great a time, try to keep smiling and look like you’re enjoying yourself: it’s a real downer for the other person if you look miserable!

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