Where to Dance

Social Dancing Etiquette - Steps to Being a Popular Dance Partner

If you are new to social dancing, then it will be worth your while to consider these dance tips, after all, dancing cheek to cheek is as up close and personal as it gets (in dance).


Preparation & Wellbeing

Smell nice! Ensure you and your clothing is fresh, and that you have deodorised. Some people bring a change of top and a small sweat towel to dance nights.

If you have recently consumed something with strong flavours, be sure to brush your teeth or chew gum before dancing (better still, don’t consume anything with strong flavours [e.g. garlic, alcohol] before a dance session).

It helps to tie back long hair, remove any bling rings (they can scratch your dance partner) and leave valuable jewellery at home as it can fly off while dancing, sometimes never to be seen again.

Wear clothing that allows for easy movement and is breathable. Avoid garments in which fingers might get caught, like fringing. Choose shoes that will hold your feet in place securely, are comfortable and non-stick - test if you can execute a spin in them on a wooden floor. Be sure to air your dancing shoes after you have worn them, never store them in a plastic bag, use a breathable fabric shoe bag.

Bring a recyclable water bottle and drink water at regular intervals – not only will it hydrate and cleanse your mouth, but the increased hydration has been found to enhance focus.

If you have an injury but are still able to dance, be sure to tell your dance partner or teacher so they can take that into account. Ultimately it will be up to you to state what you can or cannot do, stick up for yourself, it’s your body.


Classes & Workshops

Be amenable, say hi and introduce yourself to each new partner you interact with.

If you only want to dance with your dance partner and not rotate through the class, then pre-arrange this with your teacher well in advance. If it is something they can cater for, they will place you in a particular spot.

You will become a better, more versatile dancer if you dance with other people, plus it’s social and community building. If you dance with others during class, you’ll meet people you can ask for a dance later.

It is not acceptable to refuse to dance with someone of the same gender. There are several reasons for choosing to dance the non-traditional role: for teacher training, competitions, to even up numbers or personal preference.

Smile, make eye contact, in the end the best dancers are those having the most fun.


Asking Someone for a Dance

There is no rule anymore regarding who should ask who for a dance. If you are new and not sure who to ask, ask your teacher, they will direct you to some beginner-friendly people. To get the ball rolling say, “would you like to dance?” and offer you hand or, “are you available for a dance?”, “would you like to dance to the next song?” or “can I dance with you later?”.

Turning down a dance with someone and then accepting someone else of the cuff straight after is bad form. If you say you want to sit out and have a break, then sit it out for at least one song after turning someone down and before accepting someone else.

Etiquette dictates that you dance together for a minimum of one full song, an average of two songs and a maximum of three songs – please do not hog your dance partner, dance with a variety of dancers. At the end, thank them and accompany them off the dance floor, or to their next partner.

Once you get to an advanced level of ability, be sure to dance with all levels of ability. If your partner is less experienced, then please treat them gently.


On the Dance Floor – Honing your Floorcraft

Take care walking on to the dance floor, don’t rush to the middle, jostling other dancers on the way. You must develop your spatial awareness – navigate around the dance floor in the most effective way possible regardless of traffic.

Do not execute space-eating lifts, drops, aerials or travelling moves against the flow of the dance or on a crowded dance floor. Lifts and aerials are banned from the social dance floor and are only permitted at competitions, where metres of empty space surround each couple. Always follow the line of dance to avoid collisions.

Please remember to walk around the outside of the dance floor if you need to get to the other side of the room.

Teaching on the social dance floor is a no-no. If you are a teacher and even if you are not, this is not the moment. It may dent confidence, cause offence and in any case will be difficult to hear and take in without stopping, disrupting flow and enjoyment. Do compliment, do not correct.


If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or is inappropriate, and if talking to them directly does not work, let organisers know. After all we want to make sure that everyone is having a good time.


Do not let any of these points daunt you. People who enjoy social dancing are forgiving, friendly and inclusive. Dancers will want to welcome you, encourage you and help you excel – because you’re a future fantastic dance partner for them!


Ange Meyer