Etiquette (Dance Partner / Dance Floor)
Partner EtiquetteWhen you are dancing, the two most important people on the dance floor are yourself and your dance partner. The following rules will make your joint dancing experience, especially during the learning period, much more enjoyable.
Do Not Give Unsolicited AdviceUnsolicited advice is arsenic to your newly formed dance partnership. In the great big world outside of the realm of dance, know-it-alls are unwelcome, and on the dance floor the same rule applies. Leave your “I’m an expert” hat at home when you come to learn how to dance. The only exclusion to this rule is when you are the paid instructor. By paying the fee and attending the class, the student(s) have waived their rights to give unsolicited advice. They have designated the instructor as the expert, and it is then the instructor’s job to give advice and correct problems as he or she sees them—with tact and aplomb on every occasion.
Trust Your PartnerAlways trust that your partner will do the correct action as soon as he or she possibly can. At least eight times out of ten, if your partner is not exe-cuting a step or move correctly, it is because his or her arms or legs aren’t quite getting the message from the brain yet, not because your partner didn’t understand the move. Social dance was created as a leisure activity, and by nature should be pleasura-ble to the participants. Though the intentions are usually pure, the results are often disastrous when beginning dancers violate rules one and two of partner etiquette. Remembering the old adage about removing the log from your own eye prior to pointing out the splinter in your dance partner’s can salvage a difficult dance session.
Thank Your PartnerMiss Manners would be proud if all dancers remembered this simple rule. Please be polite on the social dance floor and thank your partner for the dance. Even if it is through gritted teeth due to painful smashed toes, a simple “Thank you for the dance” goes a long way.
Always Introduce YourselfThis final rule of partner dance etiquette is proba-bly the most frequently overlooked in the social dance world. People attend dances and go out to nightclubs in order to dance and meet other people, but they often forget the simple step of introducing themselves to a new dance partner in their zeal to show off their spiffy moves. Remember, dancing is a social event, and it is socially astute to at least learn someone’s name before invading his or her personal space by assuming dance position!
Floor EtiquetteAn essential yet often overlooked aspect of success-ful social dancing is floor etiquette. Dancing on a social dance floor is much like driving. Often new drivers learn in an empty parking lot or some other controlled environment. They gain confidence in their own skills and ability to maneuver their car, only to discover the difficult part of driving once you master the basics is not pointing your own car in the direction you want to go and hitting the gas; rather, it is negotiating all of the hazards along the way (otherwise known as traffic). In the same way, a beginning dancer can be thrown for a loop after mastering the basic steps for the two-step, only to discover that negotiating a crowded dance floor in a country nightclub for an upbeat two-step is much akin to merging into traffic on the beltway around Boston, Massachusetts—traffic is bumper to bumper, with everyone going at least fifty-five miles per hour! The following three rules should significantly improve your chances for success and enjoyment on the social dance floor.
Be Aware of Your SurroundingsOn a crowded dance floor your surroundings are always changing. In the interest of preventing collisions and other unhappy events, awareness of the layout of the floor and all obstacles, moving and otherwise, is necessary. This responsibility falls primarily on the leader because he is in charge of selecting the moves, and in dances that move around the circumference of the floor, the leader is usually in the forward-facing position while the follower spends most of her time moving backward around the floor. That being said, it is also important for the follower to be aware of her surroundings. There are some collisions that only the follower can see coming, so if you can see over your partner’s shoulder, followers, pay attention and alert your leader if you see anything!
Apologize or Excuse YourselfIf a collision occurs on the dance floor, always apologize or excuse yourself, even if the other person ran into you. Think of it this way—you are either apologizing for running into someone, or you are apologizing for not seeing the other dancer’s disastrous course and taking the high road of collision prevention. Even if you don’t feel that the collision was your fault, apologize in the interest of a pleasant evening. Engaging another dancer’s ego in a contest to determine whose fault a collision really was is rarely in anyone’s best interest. Save any disparaging remarks for a pillow or other inanimate and non-emotive object.
Know the Correct Placement for Each DanceCollision prevention is even more effective in the battle against spoiled evenings of dance than collision management. The first step of collision prevention is knowledge of the dance and the correct placement of that dance on the dance floor. For instance, to dance the two-step, waltz, or tango successfully, it is vitally important to know that these dances are danced around the circumference of the dance floor with constant movement in the counterclockwise direction.
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