Going Out Dancing – Some Suggestions
How to have more fun; how to let your dance partners have more fun



First, a few ground rules  (musts)

  • Floorcraft:  Please take extra care not to bump other couples.  i.e. don't step on others, don't rock-step back onto others, don't throw your partner into someone else (!) and don't ram another couple (!!).  Always be aware of the others around you.
    Guys, look where you are going to lead her before you send her there.  Don't start a move unless there is room.  Protect her from collisions.

  • Some dances travel in line-of-direction, like waltz, polka, one-step and foxtrot.  For these dances...
           1) The fast lane is on the outside.  Please don't block or slow down the traffic.  Dance in the fast lane only if you can keep up.  Choose variations which keep up with that flow... don't be a rock in the rapids!
           2) The slow lane or stationary steps are in the center, the eye of the hurricane.

  • In swing, don't do aerials or kicks in crowded conditions.
    Even if you have lots of space, never attempt to lead an aerial with someone unless you've carefully practiced that move with them.

  • If you're not dancing for a moment, please clear completely off the floor.  The dancers will appreciate it.

  • Don't wear perfumes or colognes to a social dance.  Most people don't consider it very sociable, and some have allergies.  And similarly...

  • Dance hygiene!!!  We often can't smell our own odors, so it's important that you brush your teeth, shower, use deodorant and put on clean clothes before going out dancing, including to dance classes.


    Further suggestions  (optional but highly recommended)

  • Don't be sketchy.  (See more on the Sketchy Guys page.)

  • Don't exhibit a pedantic attitude on the dance floor, attempting to correct your partners to conform to your preferred style.  True social dancing is mostly about having fun and letting your partners enjoy themselves.  Criticizing your partner is antisocial and simply isn't fun.

  • If your partner's style of dancing is different from your own, we encourage you to be flexible and go more than halfway toward adapting to your partner's style.  You'll impress your partner with your generosity (i.e. that you're nice), open-mindedness (i.e. that you're intelligent), and a side bonus is that you may learn something new that you'll like.  See Fred Astaire's advice on this here.

  • If you are far more experienced than your partner, simplify your dancing somewhat for your partner's comfort.  Yes, some challenges and surprises are fun, but being pushed around uncomfortably isn't.

  • We encourage you to dance with people you don't already know.  Most dancers will be happy to dance with someone new.

  • If you think you might get sweaty while dancing, bring spare dry shirt or two.   Most dancers hate to hold on to a clammy wet shirt.

  • If there is live music, don't treat the musicians like canned music.  Let them know that you appreciate their presence and their talent.

  • Relax.  During the inevitable mess-ups, don't get flustered, keep moving, laugh at what happened if appropriate but keep dancing.  Truly exceptional dancers will almost always make a mistake look like something they planned if at all possible.  There are no mistakes in dancing, only new moves.

  • Dance for your partner.  But also dance with your partner — have fun yourself, and let your partner know that you're having fun with them.


    Richard Powers

    More thoughts and musings