Social Dancing Etiquettes

  • Posted on: 3 February 2016
  • By: sachin.gupta

At the risk of being a pompous ass let me bureaucratically list out the social dancing etiquettes. The english may have invented bureaucracy but it is the Indians who perfected it and that makes me the best person for this exercise. 

I started dancing quite a few years ago and I wish someone had told me what I am about to enumerate below. It would have saved me quite a few embarrasing encounters.

Before the Dance Social

1. Shower: It sounds pretty obvious. Aren't we supposed to shower everyday anyways? Depending on your personal situation though, you may want to shower right before heading out to dance. There is nothing worse than catcing a whiff of BO and then having to endure it for the next 4 minutes.

2. Use a good deodrant: Another obvious one. However, even the best of us sometimes forget how much of an exercise dancing is, specifically in close quarters with someone. A deodrant will keep you fresh longer.

3. Brush your teeth: Now I sound like captain obvious. But if you brushed your teeth in the morning and are heading out dancing in the evening, chances are you are fine four feet from someone but intolerable when four inches from someone. As an added precaution, carry some breathmints.

4. Bring a handkerchief or a small hand-towel: We all sweat and we will all touch each others sweat when dancing. It is no different than shaking hands or giving someone a hug and is not really a big deal. However, it is always a good idea to have something to wipe your face and hands and not drip all over your partner. In emergencies, get paper towels from the restroom.

5. Don't wear strong perfumes or colognes: That one is a little non-obvious. We do want to smell nice. Just remember, what smells fine from four feet away can be very over-powering and nauseating when four inches aways.

6. Tie your hair low: This one really only applies if you have long hair. Tieing it low ensures that your partner does not lose an eye as you spin.

At the Social

1. Ask people to dance: Both men and women have equal responsibility in asking for a dance. This social part of social dancing probably needs an entire article devoted to it. For now, all I will say is that confidence is not gender specific and neither is taking the lead in asking someone to dance. 

2. Don't pester people for dancing: The greatest joy of social dancing is to be able to dance with many people. If you have enjoyed a dance with someone, don't overdo it by asking them every other song. A corollary to this rule is to not continue dancing with someone for seven straight songs.

3.  Apologize for collisons: Does not matter how good you are, at sometime you will run in to another couple. Acknowledge it and apologize for it. This doesnt mean that you have to stop dancing and make a big scene out of it. just nod your head and mouth the word 'Sorry'. In almost all cases, collisons are the fault of both couples and it is customary for the leaders in each couple to acknowlede and apologize.

4. It is always the man's fault: Having been married for 10 years, this is probably good life advice but is specially important in social dancing. Technically speaking, it is always the leaders fault. If something goes wrong, the leaders should just apologize and move on and continue dancing. Don't blame the followers for an ill-timed move or failure to follow. There is no such thing as failure to follow, only failure to lead.

5. Smile: This one is pretty obvious but I rarely see couples on the dance floor smiling. Enjoy the music, enjoy the company, enjoy the dance. Don't fret over complex moves and patterns or try to impress the audience. Social dancing is not about performance, it is about enjoyment.

6. Adjust to your partners level: We are all (including yours truly) guilty of it. We see someone dance and assume they are at a specific level and then start dancing with them at the presumed level. Just like love, everyone couple has a different chemistry. It takes time to get used to someone's style and lead. Start slow and experiment with simple moves first.

7. Don't start teaching on the dance floor: Keep the lessons for a later time, when you are actually in a class. Dance socials are for enjoying not for learning. The only exception to this rule is when you are dancing with a beginner. In this scenario, help them by leading them right, doing simple moves and maybe by counting the steps but don't start teaching complex moves on the dance floor.

8. Say Thank You:  Yes, it is the most overused word of all times. You still have to thank your partner after a dance.

In Conclusion - Anyone who thinks sunshine brings happiness has never danced at a dimly lit dance social.

* I am sure I am missing some here, but if you will point them out to me, I will add them to this list*