Dance Etiquette

The way you conduct yourself on the dance floor tells a lot about the kind of person you are. Here are few tips for enjoyable, respectful social dancing. You can find more resources on our Resources page.

  • Be welcoming!
    You might have a core group of dance friends – and it’s absolutely fine to enjoy them – but do your best to be friendly and dance with everyone. Help make Swing Dance Winnipeg an inclusive community!
  • Facing the dance floor and engaging with the music will show others you would like to dance.

If you sit near the back of the room, are in deep conversation, or are otherwise engaged (e.g., on your phone), you’re signaling to others that you’re taking a break.

  • If you would like to dance, ask someone instead of waiting to be asked – don’t be shy!
  • When you would like to dance with someone, ask politely, “Would you like to dance?”

Avoid grabbing a partner and pulling them onto the dance floor.

  • When you wish to decline a dance, be polite: smile and say “No, thank you.”

If you can share why you can’t dance to that song, do so. If you ask someone to dance and they say no, accept their decision and move on. While some people consider it bad etiquette to accept an invitation to dance to a song after declining an invitation to the same song by someone else, your own conscience can be your guide; let kindness rule your actions, including kindness to yourself.

  • While dancing, focus on your partner and making them feel appreciated and engaged.

If you know for a fact that your partner has less experience than you, dance to their level.

  • Moderate eye contact shows you are paying attention.

Do not stare at your partner, nor never look at them.

  • Don’t forget simple, courteous actions, such as introducing yourself to new dance partners and saying thank you after finishing a dance.
  • Save air steps, lifts, drops, and similar dance moves for performances and competitions or jam circles.

They are not appropriate for social dancing. When performing aerial moves, only do so with a willing partner with whom you have a strong, trusting relationship. Be very careful while learning or practicing aerial moves, e.g., use spotters and experienced instructors.

  • It’s okay to request songs for a DJ to play; however, trust that your DJ is experienced and has a reason for every song they play.

If your song doesn’t get played, don’t be offended! The request might have come too late, or it doesn’t flow with their set, or truth be told, maybe they just don’t dig it.

  • Share the love and let DJs, musicians, instructors, dancers, volunteers, and event organizers know if you enjoyed the music, dance, or event!

Applaud the musicians, especially if a musician nails a solo or the band delivers a masterful performance.

  • During class, do not contradict the instructor’s teachings to other students.

Bring up your disagreement with the instructor one-on-one as soon as appropriate. If you simply have a question, wait for a transition point, raise your hand, or bring it up one-on-one.

  • Social dances are an opportunity to enjoy dancing with people of many different levels and dance backgrounds, which makes the social dance floor an inappropriate place to criticize, teach, or offer otherwise unsolicited dance advice.

If a partner can’t follow a move, try it a second time, but don’t keep doing it over and over, or try to teach it.  If your partner asks to learn something, leave the dance floor to teach or practice something new. It’s okay to politely decline to teach as well. It is a social dance after all!

  • For travelling dances, like the Foxtrot or Waltz, the “line of dance” is counter-clockwise around the dance floor. For stationary dances, such as in Lindy Hop, Balboa, Jive, or Charleston, you should dance in the center of the dance floor. Otherwise, you may be an obstruction to others.

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