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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

10 Rules for Making Social Dancing More Pleasant

Throughout my years of being involved in the ballroom dance community I have come to realize that social dancing is a divisive topic. Regardless of competitive level, dancers seem to have strong opinions on social dancing, with some dancers dismissing social dancing entirely, while other dancers can’t get enough. In all honesty, I very rarely social dance. When I first began my DanceSport journey I was more open to social dancing and I routinely went to local dance events. As I became a better dancer and more interested in competition and performing, my interest in social dancing waned, which lead me to only attend social events within my own studio, and ultimately I stopped social dancing entirely. Recently, however, I attended a number of social events as a means to a) distract myself from some personal bullshit and b) to convince myself that I’ve had enough exercise to avoid my daily hour on the treadmill. These recent social dancing adventures have lead me to the realization that social dancing would be a far more pleasant experience if everyone had a crash course in dance etiquette. In other words, I’ve realized that I don’t hate social dancing – I just hate assholes.

While it seems like a lot of social danced etiquette should be obvious, that doesn’t seem to be the case, so I’ve devised the Ballroom Bitch Guide On Social Dancing:

1. “Yes, Yes, Yes!” A good rule of thumb is to realize that in social dance circles it’s incredibly rude to turn down a dance when someone asks you. There are, of course, situations in which you may have a valid reason to turn someone down – if you have one of those situations then you should never dance with someone else for that dance. In other words, if you turn down a dance, you’re benched until the next round.

2. Respect the line of dance! One of my (and many others’) pet peeves is a leader who goes against the line of dance. The GENTLEMAN’S job is to lead his partner safely and respectfully through the minefield of other dancers, which means it’s vitally important that the leader respects the line of dance. In addition to avoiding collisions, following the line of dance demonstrates that you respect the other couples around you. Put simply, you’re a total asshole if you don’t respect the line of dance. If you’re unsure about the line(s) of dance, here’s a chart that explains where you should and shouldn’t dance.

3. Never insult or teach a partner! People don’t go social dancing to get feedback on their dance abilities, and frankly, you’re probably not qualified to give feedback. Social dancing is meant to be a fun opportunity to practice skills with a verity of partners, all of whom dance at different levels. Your job as a partner is to be encouraging. If you can't manage to say something encouraging don't say anything at all. In other words, shut the fuck up and leave the critiquing to the professionals.

4. Be prepared to share! If you bring a date to a social dance you need to be prepared to share. Dancing only with your date is a huge faux pas and a major insult to the other dancers at a social event. We get that you’re probably aiming to get laid at the end of the night, but that’s really not our problem. If you’re not OK dancing with someone other than your date, then a social dance isn’t the place for you.

5. Gentlemen, don’t hold a lady’s wrist/forearm in lieu of her hand! This is just insulting! Holding a lady’s hand or forearm is a teaching technique, and since you’re not a teacher and she’s not your student you’re being a dick by not respecting her enough to dance in a proper hold. If she can’t keep up with your lead, you should tone your steps down for that particular partner.

6. Don't stop mid-dance. Unless you’re injured, it’s incredibly rude to give up on your partner mid-dance. I’ve only seen this a couple of times, but giving up on someone because you don’t dance well together is hurtful and uncalled for. At max, you’re giving up 3 minutes of your life, so don’t be an asshole and quit halfway though.

7. Be aware! This sort of goes with respecting the movement of other dancers, but it applies to both ladies and gentlemen. Gentlemen, in addition to following the line of dance, be aware of where you are leading and don’t cut other couples off. Ladies, your lead can’t see everything, so try to keep an eye out and give him a subtle signal if he’s about to cause a collision.

8. Avoid crazy arms. I get that everyone wants to look like a ballroom superstar, but social dances often aren’t the place to show off your wicked arm styling. Scan the environment to see if there’s space before you whip out your sickest arm styling. If there’s room, feel free to go for it. However, social dances tend to be crowded, so the chances of you accidentally slapping someone are pretty high. If things seem crowded, save your skills for lessons, personal practice, etc.

9. Leave the floor if you don’t want to dance. This rule is especially for the gentlemen out there who opt to socialize rather than dance. Often, women far out number men at social dances, which makes it rude for guys to mill around the floor without dancing. I totally understand and respect that you might need a break or might not know a dance, but if that’s the case, you should step away from the floor until that dance is over. Simply milling around subtly sends the message that the available women aren’t good enough for you. That said, ladies should also follow this rule. If there's a dance your don't know/don't like and you want to avoid it, try step away from the floor before someone asks you to dance. 

10. Don’t be a letch. While it is possible to meet the love of your live at a social dance, finding a mate isn’t most people’s goal when they go social dancing. While it’s perfectly fine to ask an attractive partner to grab a drink, don’t be a creep about it. Save your best come-on moves for the club or another situation. And don’t get your jollies by being inappropriate on the floor. Respect that people go to social dances to have fun and practice their skills, not to lock down a lay.

I’m sure I’ve missed some rules that could help improve social dances, but hopefully these 10 give you a good start. The main thing to keep in mind is that people go social dancing to have fun, so as a participant it’s your responsibility to respect that and be kind, welcoming, and encouraging. As long as you act like a reasonably decent person, you should be good. If you have any other rules that you think could make social dancing a more pleasant experience sound off in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Love these.

    As a follow, I would add:

    -If I miss a lead, don't make a face :/ if you think I might possibly be able to get it, just try it again. If it fails again, stop trying it. :D

    -Focus on your partner - not in looking around the room

    -Even if a follow is nice and seems willing to try every new move you want to try out, keep it to one or two, maybe 3. Don't make the WHOLE dance a trial of new moves that will be awkward half the time. Dance.