For anyone involved in social dancing, there are some basic rules of etiquette to apply when on the dance floor. These rules are expected to be followed in any social dancing scene and help ensure that everyone dancing has the best time possible.
Rule 1: Personal Grooming
This is perhaps the most important rule from the perspective of the people with which you will be dancing. No one wants to dance with a person who is wet and slimy because they are drenched in a river of sweat. When you go dancing, make sure your body is clean and you use deodorant. If you are a person who sweats a lot, it is helpful to bring an extra shirt or two. Many people bring extra shirts to save their partners from disgust and themselves from embarrassment.
Rule 2: Always Watch Where You Are Going
This applies mainly to leaders, but is important for the followers to be aware of as well. If you are leading, it is your job to watch out for the follower to make sure that she or he does not hit anyone. It can get tricky if you are on a crowded dance floor, but the leader is required to be in a state of constant vigilance at all times. When dancing in a crowded space, it is important that everyone is paying close attention to where the other dancers are all times to minimize the risk of colliding with another couple and potentially causing an injury.
Rule 3: No Instructing
If you are social dancing outside of a lesson, there should be no teaching or instructing. It is considered very rude for a person to attempt to “teach” the partner with which they are dancing. Lessons are for teaching, social dances are for dancing and having a good time. The only time instructing is allowed on the dance floor is if it was specifically requested. If a partner asks the other one for some advice, then the other person has the option of whether or not to give advice, but if advice is not asked for, then it should not be given.
Rule 4: Know Where on the Floor to Dance
If you are attending a dance where there are many different styles of dancing, then there is a certain rule as to where you should dance on the dance floor. Generally, the outside edges of the dance floor is reserved for travelers who travel around the entire dance floor, like those dancing the Fox Trot or Waltz. The inside of the dance floor is reserved for dancers who are dancing more contained styles of dance (like swing or salsa). Basically, anyone who is not going to be travelling very far should remain on the inside of the dance floor and anyone who is going to be travelling a lot should remain on the outside.
Rule 5: Saying No
You always reserve the right to say “no”, when someone asks you to dance. Just say, as politely as possible, that you would like to sit this one out. The only rule when saying “no” to a dance partner is that you must sit that dance out. For example, sometimes a person might reject a dance partner because they do not wish to dance with that particular person; however, once you have declined, you must sit the dance out no matter who else may ask you to dance.
Rule 6: No Aerials
If you happen to dance a style of dance where aerials are popular, please resist the temptation to let loose during a social dance. It is considered unacceptable to attempt any aerials during a social dance. This is because it is simply not safe to do aerials on a crowded dance floor, so the general rule is that you should not do them.
Dance etiquette is seen as a very important part of social dancing and some dancers can get picky about it, but you don’t have to worry. If you follow these general rules for social dancing, you will fit right in and the other dancers will respect you for showing them respect. When good etiquette is observed, everyone is free to dance, socialize, and have a good time, which is really what social dancing is all about.