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Dancefloor Etiquette - The Do's and Don't's of Ballroom Dancing
Ballroom dancing can be a "dog eat dog" world. Everyone involved expects a certain level of behaviour from all participants, but no-one will ever tell you the unspoken rules! Unspoken that is until you get it wrong, then of course people will speak about it all the time... only not to you! So here are some of the rules that make up generally accepted dancefloor etiquette, and some of my observations besides!
Men - Asking someone to dance
The correct way to ask a lady to dance is "May I have the pleasure of this dance?" whilst offering your hand as an invitation to the dancefloor. Not:
"Would you like the pleasure of this dance?" whilst walking off onto the dancefloor and gesturing with your head that you intend for her to follow you. A subtle difference but important nonetheless. Get it right!
Women - Asking someone to dance
Traditionally not acceptable behaviour, and usually not necessary. Just standing by the dancefloor should be enough for a man to ask you to dance. However if you do ask a man to dance, it would be considered incredibly rude of him to say no, so the world is your oyster so to speak!
If you decide to go to a social dance, then don't think that legging it around the dancefloor whilst executing complicated moves like you would in a competition or show will impress anyone. It won't! People aren't leaving the dancefloor to watch you, it's because you just elbowed someone in the face and they have all gone off to complain about you in their little groups. They will say things like "Who do they think they are?", "They really love themselves those two..", and "They reckon they own the dancefloor".
Of course when they speak to you directly they will all be as nice as pie and tell you how good you are, so if you don't care what people think then carry on as you were. If you do care, then remember... smaller steps, a basic routine, nothing too fancy!
Walking or standing on the dancefloor
It is generally accepted that anyone on the dancefloor not dancing i.e. walking across it or standing talking or looking for someone, is actually "asking for it!"
Expect to get mown down, knocked into or over, elbowed, kicked and tripped. The dancers see it as their God given right to do this and enjoy it as part of their sport. Take my advice, walk around the edge!
Dancing the wrong way round the floor
You are supposed to go anti - clockwise! Going the wrong way is frowned upon by everyone and is likely to cause injury... to you!
If you have already sold your soul to a dance school i.e. signed up for lessons and been faithfully going and paying for them each week, then it is not generally acceptable for you to go and get some lessons in the same kind of dancing with another school. Especially if you then go back to your dance teacher and say that someone else has shown you how to do something better. Remember what I said about it being a "dog eat dog world"? Well it's no different for the teachers. They like nothing more than to gossip amongst themselves (even when they claim to hate each-other.. which they often do!) and to steal each-others students. It's also a very small world, and you will get found out if you do it in secret!
Of course you won't get thrown out of your dance school, but the one-up-man-ship can be unbearable. So pick a school and stick with it.
You can go and learn different styles of dancing however, so if you do ballroom and latin, feel free to go and learn salsa, lindy hop or any other dance you like...
Whilst showing off your dancing skills at a wedding or in a pub might be great fun, in a lesson it's likely to get you shouted down and humiliated in front of the class. Never forget... teacher knows best, and when you signed up for lessons you actually signed over your soul and s/he owns you! Remain humble and never think you know best!
Men! In ballroom dancing, you are in charge! That's right, it's all up to you. You get to decide on the steps and figures you are going to dance and the direction you are going to go. This may be a novelty for some of you, especially where your partner is your wife, but don't let it go to your head! You need to be a gentleman about it, a strong lead is not an aggressive one! Remember, you are the frame, and she is the picture, you need to present her beautifully! There is great responsibility in this role, for if it all goes wrong, she will blame you! If you let her take charge however, you will lose the respect of everyone who bothers to watch you as it will be obvious. It's a fine line...
Women - your man is in charge! This may be a novelty for you too, but it is important to follow him no matter what and try not to take over. You will both look and feel much better on the dancefloor when this relationship is established, and people won't laugh at him for being weak willed and letting you lead. This only applies to dancing, how you conduct yourselves off the dancefloor is entirely up to you!
If you follow these simple rules of dancefloor etiquette, then your life as a social dancer can be happy, stress free and you can be the ones frowning at those who don't know the etiquette along with everyone else.
If you have a rebellious streak, now you know the rules you can break that will have the greatest impact on everyone else and get you noticed! It's generally accepted that rules can be broken, as long as you know you are breaking them and grin wildly at everyone whilst doing so! Enjoy!