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Dance etiquette is the set of conventional rules which govern the social behavior of social dance by its participants. Such rules include the way in which the participants should look and the way in which they approach, dance with and leave their partner. Etiquette can vary in its specification and stringency between different styles of dance.
Why Dance Etiquette is Important
Why is dance etiquette important? It makes the difference between having a happy or unhappy dancing experience. It helps you avoid offending or upsetting your partner and other dancers. It helps you build a good reputation for yourself as a dancer. Whether the style of dance, dance can be a socially intimate activity and you must know the proper dance manners.
Asking For A Dance
When asking for a dance, it is best to stay with traditional phrases:
- ``May I have this dance?
- ``Would you like to dance?
- ``Care to dance?
- ``Shall we dance?
In the past men typically have followed the tradition that a man asked a woman to dance. This practice has changed over the years and today woman should feel equally comfortable asking a partner for a dance, no matter the setting.
Cutting in is a process in dancing where a person interrupts two dance partners and claims the partner of one. If a gentleman or woman would like to dance with a someone who is already dancing with another person, he/she may cut in by approaching the dancing couple, tapping the him/her on the shoulder, and asking, “May I cut in?” "May I finish this dance?" etc. It is inappropriate for either member of the dancing pair to refuse the request to cut in. If the first gentlemen or woman would like to dance with the other individual again, he/she must wait until the next dance to ask him/her to cut in.
Declining A Dance/Being Declined
Being declined is always hard to experience for both individuals. Dance etiquette requires that one should avoid declining a dance under most circumstances. For example, there is no correct way of refusing an invitation on the basis of preferring to dance with someone else. According to tradition, the only graceful way of declining a dance is either voice
- You do not know the dance,
- You need to take a rest, or
- You have promised the dance to someone else.
Dancers are encouraged to use discretion and restraint when exercising this option. In some situations, the simplest best way may be to say “No, Thank You.” Responding to a “No, Thank You” can be tough, but don’t read into it too much. They were polite and honest and maybe just don’t want to dance. Dealing with rejection can show your true colors as well so, move on and go ask someone else, while smiling.
Dance involves an activity where people may be in close contact. Before dancing make sure to
- Be sure to bathe,
- Wear deodorant,
- Keep in mind of your breath, you may need a mint.
These are all things everyone should do daily but especially when dancing with a partner. Make sure to keep fingernails trimmed and/or out of harm’s way. Wear appropriate clothing depending on the dance/function attending.
- The dancers move counter clockwise (from above) around the floor.
- When things go wrong on the dance floor always apologize. Generally it does not matter who is at fault.
- If you are moving more slowly than other dancers keep to the center of the floor.
- If you are engaged in conversation move off the dance floor.
- To cross the room either dance across the floor or walk around the perimeter.
- Carry food and beverages around the perimeter. Wipe up your own spills.
- While dancing, do not give dance tips unless asked. If asked, just give tips about what you were asked about. When engaged in giving a lengthy tip, or if you stop dancing to discuss it, move off the dance floor. And, above all, don't give that person tips again until they ask you again.
- The traditional rule about declining dances was that you could politely turn down a request to dance only by saying something like "No, thank you. I'm sitting this one out." or "I'd be happy to dance with you later. I just need to rest now", and that if you turn down a request to dance, to be polite, it was considered important that you not dance at all during the dance in question. Many dance groups today have abandoned this rule, and explicitly say that it's always ok to decline a dance with a simple "no, thank you", and no reason need be given.
- Don't just dance with your favorite dancers. It's called "social" dancing for a reason.
- It is always up to the follow, not the lead, to set the distance between the partners. However, if the lead feels like he is being held too closely for comfort or safety, they might say something like "If you move away a little bit, I'll be able to lead you more safely." If either partner is not being allowed to set what they feel is a comfortable and safe distance, they should feel free to say that they need to sit down to rest, or something else equally polite.
- Be aware of sight lines between ourselves, other dancers and the audience when onstage and offstage.
- Ballroom Etiquette ... Twelve lessons. New York: Dance Review Publishing Co., 1924
- Davidson, John & Mary Etiquette at a Dance: what to do and what not to do. London: W. Foulsham & Co., 1937
- How to Dance; or, the Etiquette of the Ball Room. London: Ward, Lock, etc., 1876
- Karsinova Don'ts for Dancers. London: A. & C. Black, 2008 ISBN 9781408109892 (reissue of the 1925 ed.)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dance etiquette.|
- Simple Rules of Ballroom Dance Etiquette
- Elements of Dance Etiquette
- Beyond Dance Etiquette
- PEERS Vintage Dance Etiquette
- Dance Etiquette: 20 Tips for Social Dancing
- Etiquette School of Ohio
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