Hello dear reader. We have compiled a few rules of etiquette regarding social dancing. These commandments have been passed down through thousands of generations by dance prophets and sages, alike. Please take heed to these words as they will serve you well on your next social dance journey. Namaste.
Yes, that introduction was overly dramatic…but we feel that the guidelines outlined below will improve your dance experience.
“Thou Shall Not Outshine The Sun” – This rule applies to dancers whose skill level is significantly better than their dance partner, and they still feel the need to be in the spotlight. This is for guys in particular. You may be the second coming of Juan Matos, but don’t make your beginner dance partner do complex turn patterns that they can’t execute smoothly. Also, don’t overdo the “shines” and footwork, and make her do ‘suzy q’s’ and ‘the cumbia step’ for 5 minutes while you’re performing in your own version of “Showtime At The Apollo” or “So You Think You Can Dance”.
“Thou Shall Not Be “F.O.A.” or Funky On Arrival. This rule is obvious. Hygiene. Handle it before you go to the social. Bring mints. Guys, if you sweat a lot then wear an undershirt. If you intend to be the creepy person dancing by themselves in the corner, then go ahead and be as uncouth as you please.
“Thou Shall Not Whip Your Hair Back And Forth” – I don’t know about anyone else, but a few times I have been smacked square in my face by a female doing ‘the hair whip’ maneuver during a turn pattern. Ladies please be aware of your hair. Guys, watch your elbows! Hair hurts a lot less than bone.
“Thou Shall Not Have ‘Relations’ On The Dance Floor” – Bachata is not grinding. Merengue is not grinding. There is no such thing as “TwerKizomba”, yet. Couples, respect yourself, others, and the dance you’re doing. Guys, most girls don’t want you thrusting on them like a rabbit in heat…even if you’re on beat. Ladies, don’t hang on the men like they’re a clothes hanger with legs. No matter how petite you are, we still have to hold you up.
“Thou Shall Get Your Drivers Education” – Guys, you don’t make a left turn in a car without looking where you’re going, correct? Well just like with driving you shouldn’t do a Cross Body Lead unless you know if there are any “cars” in the way. Dance floor awareness is one of the most essential rules for dance. Guys, its your job to make sure the lady (in particular her feet and calves) doesn’t need medical care after dancing with you. Ladies, its your duty to not go flailing during turn patterns if you’re being led correctly. Stay in your slot, or “lane”.
“Thou Shall Not Over Dip Your Chip” – Please use caution when dipping a lady. Dips can be a welcome addition to any good dance and are fun to execute. However 10 dips during a dance is…extreme. And if you don’t know how to do one, but you’re trying to impress a girl then the best advice is DON’T DO IT! The results could be catastrophic and every girl will be hesitant to dance with you. Plus, if her weave falls off then you’ve got other issues. (Joke, ladies.)
“Thou Shall Wear Appropriate Shoes” – Ladies, if you’re going to go social dancing please either wear or bring appropriate shoes. Most ladies can’t dance in stilettos unless there is a poll involved…and that’s not really partner dancing. Guys, you should definitely take note of a girls attire before you ask her to dance. If she’s wearing shoes that obviously won’t allow her to salsa/mambo/tango/west coast swing/etc then do her a favor and don’t ask…because if she accepts, then she could fall and/or get hurt. If she is wearing a short skirt, then please refer back to the previous rule about “dipping your chip”.
“Though Shall Not Commit Dance Adultery” – Ever dance with someone and it is blatantly obvious that they are not connected with you? They’re looking around or just appear grumpy in general, or they’re surveying the crowd for their next person to dance with? If you’re having a terrible time dancing with someone, then “fake it until you make it”, or at least smile and give occasional eye contact. This person may be a beginner and could one day be an incredible dancer, and they’ll remember the time you blew them off.
“Though Shall Not Preach nor Teach” – The dance floor is for (you guessed it) dancing. No one wants to be coached or have their dance skills critiqued by the person their dancing with, unless they ask for it. This will make the person feel self-conscious. If you have advice for the person then wait until after you’re done, thank them for the dance, tell them you had fun (even if you didn’t), and then offer a polite suggestion.
“Though Shall Not Use The Force” – Guys, you should never force a girl do anything at social dances. You shouldn’t force her to dance. If she doesn’t want to dance, then don’t be “that guy” who keeps asking. You shouldn’t force her to do a turn pattern. You shouldn’t make her dance close to you if it’s obvious she is resisting because its uncomfortable. Don’t become “Darth Bachata”…unless it’s Halloween. Same rules for ladies regarding willingness to dance.
Rules for Observers:
These are guidelines for anyone not actively dancing.
“Walk it out!” – Walk AROUND the dance floor. Not through it. You are not Moses and the sea of dancers will not part for you.
“It’s so hard to say goodbye…” – If you’re about to leave and want to hug someone goodbye, WAIT until the song is over. The person will still be alive in 3-4 minutes when the song is ends. Please don’t tap them on the shoulder and interrupt especially if you don’t know the other person.
“YouTube it!” – Don’t record others dancing without their permission unless they ask you too, or you know them personally. The exception to this rule is if this person is a professional instructor/performer. Many probably want you to record them as its almost a pseudo-commercial for them. For the rest of us, its certainly a good idea to ask first.
“Shots, shots, shots…everbody!” – Don’t take your “drank” with you onto the dance floor. It might taste good, and it might be fruity…but it makes you look like a drunk face.
“Playin’ footsy” – Watch your feet while sitting. If the dance setting is very intimate, please don’t sit with your legs extended. You will most likely get your brand new Burju shoes stepped on, or trip someone else. And a fight will ensue with lots of slapping and hair pulling.
What “commandments” or guidelines do you have? Let us know!