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Dancetiquette: Making the Best Impression at a Social

As we know, making a good first impression is important. Many a new romance, friendship, or business relationship has started with direct eye contact, an easy smile, and a firm handshake. It’s especially important when social dancing: would you dance with that girl who slouches in the corner, giving everyone who comes near the evil eye?

Obvious faux pas’ aside, the world of social dancing has it’s own rules about what’s appropriate when asking someone to dance, as well as body contact, dress, and others. So, whether you are just visiting, or settling in for life, here’s the need to know tips for surviving the social dance jungle.

When in Rome…

While there’s nothing wrong with personal expression, bringing sweatpants to a classy dancehall might not get you past the door. You could call in and ask about the dress code, but most people aren’t exactly clear on what ‘dressy casual’ means.

A better option is to do some online snooping; most club websites have a gallery page where you can compare the wear of the dancers who actually attend. If they don’t have a webpage, look for a Facebook or a Pinterest page, or message a local dance board to find out what they recommend. When in doubt, aim to overdress.

Scope out the joint.

So, you’ve arrived in your snazzy, dance-appropriate wear. Time to cross your fingers and dive in, right? Wrong. Many newcomers just ask the first dancer they see, or sit in the first chair that’s empty, and rope themselves into an awkward situation right from the start.

Instead, harness your inner wallflower for a moment and just look. Check out where the largest crush of dancers tend to go after they’ve said thanks to their partners. Watch those on the floor and make a mental note of the ones you’d like to dance with later. Now you’re ready to make some smarter choices.

Choose Wisely.

Anyone who is a) watching the dance floor, b) sitting near the dance floor, and c) moving a bit to the music is basically screaming ‘dance with me!’ at the top of their lungs. Either look for, or be these people.

And by the way, I’ve written whole articles on why the occasional ‘no’ has nothing to do with you. Maybe they’re too tired, or shy, or cliquey; who knows? If you’re getting a lot of ‘no’s however, it might be time to revisit your approach strategy. We’ll look at that, as well as etiquette on the dance floor, next week.


About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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