Learn Your Dance Floor Etiquette

Cause no harm and, conversely, protect yourself. If you are being maimed during a song, stop dancing and head for the sidelines — even if it’s the middle of a song. Say something along the lines of, “Gee, I think I just got hurt. I should sit down” if you are timid, or, if you are more straightforward, “Excuse me, but you’ve hurt my arm. I’m going to stop now.” And then walk off the floor — it’s not a discussion; it’s not a negotiation; and you do not need permission or approval from the maimer to stop dancing with him/her.

Offer condolences in case of accidents. If your partner accidentally falls, apologize no matter who’s fault you believe it to be and offer your hand to help them up. Or if you bump into another couple or accidentally step on someone else’s foot, immediately look them in the eye tell them you are sorry.

No aerials on the dance floor. Yes, they do it in the movies, but aerial are for performance only. You can hurt yourself and/or other people on the floor. As well, don’t kick behind yourself. You can’t see who’s back there that you are just about to deliver a mighty mule kick to.

Dance one song with someone, then change partners. Maybe two in a row, but not more than that. You can always ask them to dance again later in the evening, but it is impolite to occupy one person song after song while ignoring everyone else in the room.

Pay attention to the person you are dancing with. If you are looking all around the room as you dance, you send your partner a message that you are already looking to move on. It’s rather like constantly looking at your watch or phone while in a conversation with someone, you are letting them know you have better things to do. Songs last 3 or so minutes, be in the moment enjoy the dance you are having and smile!

Thank every person you dance with without fail. When the song is over, thank your partner as you leave the floor together.

Dance with partners of all skill levels. Overcome your shyness and do it. It’s good for you. And it helps everyone to be a better dancer sooner, which means more fun the next time out. This goes with making new-comers feel welcome and helps to grow the dance scene.

Never refuse a mint.

Austin Swing Dance Syndicate offers this comprehensive article on dance etiquette. It’s a long read, but makes many well informed points.