The community dance socialits not for the faint of heart. The prospect of dancing with a complete stranger can be daunting, even for experienced dancers. Of course, if youre a relative newbie, that makes the whole experience even more stressful.
To make the evening more pleasant for everyone, it helps to remember a few pointers on social dance etiquette. Whether youre a swing dancer or a salsa aficionado, these simple tips can help everybody have a better time.
Pay attention to hygiene
First, make sure that you shower thoroughly before the event and wear deodorant. This may seem obvious, but its worth emphasizing. Dancers can really work up a sweat, and nobody wants to dance with a smelly partner. You might also want to bring a spare shirt along, especially during warm weather.
On a related note, make sure that your breath isnt offensive either. Social dancing often requires close contact, and a bad case of halitosis can turn off even the most gracious partner.
Avoid saying “no” when someone asks you to dance. Why? Because its considerate and polite to accept. Remember, it takes a measure of courage to ask for a dance, and when somebody crosses the floor to approach you, that person is making himself or herself vulnerable for a moment. Remember, nobody likes rejectionnot even the most experienced of dancers.
Of course, there are times when you would be perfectly justified to decline. When the person is overly grabby, for example. Or when he or she smells like a tuna cannery. Or when that person dances in a way that puts you at physical risk. Or when youre simply too tired to dance. By and large though, if somebody asks you to dance, you should say yes.
What if the other dancer is awkward and unpleasant to dance with? Or what if you simply dont care for that persons style? Opinions vary on this matter, but in my judgment, its best to say yes anyway. After all, its only for the course of a song. A few minutes wont kill you, and its better to err on the side of being gracious.
If you do say No
If you do turn somebody down, its best to sit out the entire song, even if somebody else asks you to dance. At a social dance event, few things are more hurtful than seeing somebody accept a dance offer right after that person has turned you down. Most people would take that personallyand frankly, I dont blame them.
Of course, one should be especially sensitive to the feelings of beginning dancers or those who arent particularly skilled. Even if that person is normally well-adjusted and self-assured this type of affront can do considerable damage to their dancing confidence.