Dance Etiquette – Tips For Social Dance

Those of us that have been in the social dance scene for a while know our basic social dance etiquette like we know the back of our hand.

For some though, dance etiquette doesn’t seem to come as easy, and those lacking these non verbal rules can come off as rude without even meaning to be.  These rules encompass almost all the social dances (Zouk, Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, West Coast Swing, Cha Cha, etc).  Here’s a few simple rule and tips to help you understand the best way to approach the social dance floor.

1 – My personal number one rule, and pet peeve, is no critiquing on the dance floor!  We are all always learning, and it is very rude to critique, tell someone they are not doing something right, give funny faces, or try to correct them while social dancing.  Even when someone asks me personally to tell them if they do something wrong, I won’t do it because it’s distracting and I’m not in the business of breaking people’s spirits.

2 – Make sure your outfit is “social dancing” proof.  Are your earrings too heavy?  Do the buttons on your coat/shirt tangle in girl’s hair?  Is your skirt/dress too revealing when spinning?  Test it out before you head out to dance.

3 – Wash your hands!  Not just when you go to the restroom, but every once in awhile too.  Remember that in social dancing, you’re touching someone who has touched 10 other people, who those people have touched 10 other people, and so on.

4 – Don’t pressure or guilt someone into dancing if they don’t want to, and don’t take it personal.  You can always dance with someone else.

5 – It’s nice and appreciated if you hold your lady’s hand and walk her on to the dance floor.

6 – Lead her to a safe and open spot.  Don’t have her go first expecting her to pick the spot unless she asks.

7 – Do basics in the beginning to assess your dance partner’s level and adjust to his/her level.

8 – Do not try to show off by going crazy on someone who is not comfortable with patterns, you’ll intimidate them and likely make them scared to dance with you again.

9 – Build up the energy by taking it easy at first, and then really go off once the music starts poppin’.

10 – Followers, don’t back lead.  It’s true you have a certain amount of control over your styling and how you look, but leave the patterns up to the Leaders, unless there is a previous agreement in switching/sharing roles throughout the dance.

11 – Guys, if you’re practicing a new move and it’s not working after two or three attempts, then try again on a different dance partner when you’re done dancing with your current one.  It may be that your partner is not quite that level to follow that pattern yet or you still need to work a little more on it in classroom.

12 – Mind about having a welcoming face!  Nothing is worse than looking sour while dancing, even if you don’t mean to.  I understand it’s hard to smile while thinking really hard about doing the pattern right or making sure you’re following well, but try your best to make a habit of smiling, this may help.

13 – Don’t look too distracted while dancing with your partner.  Partner dancing is all about connecting with another person, so when you are (or look) distracted, it takes away from that pleasure.

14 – At the same time, don’t stare uncomfortably at your partner the entire time.  Maintain a good balance of connecting visually.

15 – Guys, be diligent in taking care of your partner.  Guys who throw girls around in turns, dips, cross body leads, without looking around first put that girl in danger of getting hit or stepped on.  Please, look around, make sure there’s enough room for her to step when you take her there, and be aware of any crazy dancers around you as well, especially when you are leading head movements.

16 – Be courteous to others by staying IN YOUR SPACE when the dance floor is very full.  It’s very annoying to get hit constantly by the same person or to be pushed into this tiny space on the edge of the floor.

17 – Followers, don’t let styling get in the way of following well.  Following comes first, styling is secondary.

18 – This goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway.  Do not feel up on your partner if she/he doesn’t want to be felt up!!  Don’t be that guy (or girl, lol) that everyone refers to as “The Perv.”

19 – You should not be doing any tricks that could put your partner or others around you in danger.  Simple dips are usually pretty safe for the social dance floor, but make sure nobody is right above your partner as your bring her up, and remember that lifts aren’t appreciated on social dance floors!  Safety first!

20 – If you’re belligerent and drunk, it’s best not to dance with anybody.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later for this advice.

21 – When the dance is over, thank your partner politely for the great dance.

22 – Above all, HAVE FUN!  It’s not social dancing if it’s not fun, so enjoy it without worry.

Share it in your dance community and raise awareness about those topics, so you may have a social dance environment with good etiquette!!!

Adapted from the original text written by Sarah Vazquez

3 Comments on “Dance Etiquette – Tips For Social Dance

  1. Great list but missing no cutting across the dance floor.


  2. My most important rule (which not every man follows!) is, let the woman decide the distance between the man and woman and respect this! Especialy when the woman shows you she wants more distance.


    • Who do u think you are? I allow the energy of both people decide how close we need to be. If the woman or man wants to add 4 feet of distance, might as well end the dance because something is wrong. Zouk is a close dance.


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