3 Must-Follow Dance Congress Etiquette Rules

the unwritten rules of dance congresses

Freedom! Living a dancing dream! That’s what a dance congress feels like, right? So let’s ensure that etiquette doesn’t go flying out the window. Below are the three golden rules of dance congress etiquette. We cover do’s and don’ts to avoid civil war in your room, the tricky unwritten rules about posting class videos on social media and when it’s ok to ask famous dance instructors for a social dance.

1. Social Media & Chat Etiquette for Workshops with Famous Artists

Almost always, at the end of each workshop an artist does a little “demo” dance with music.

This dance demo with music* is the only thing that you are usually allowed to post on social media.

Unless the instructor has expressed permission directly you should NOT post the following dances on social media:

  1. The teacher dancing as they are counting.
  2. The clear explanations for steps.
  3. Needless to say: the entire class.

Each dance instructor has traveled far and wide to take classes with the best, spent money renting studios to perfect their technique and choreographies, given their all teaching classes, are constantly polishing their style and learning how to transmit nuances to others.

Anyway, as behavioral scientists can attest, the idea of “fairness” is present even when we’re toddlers. If all of the attendees paid their full pass, wouldn’t they feel a bit cheated if all of the workshops were posted online for anyone to view for free?

Story time:

At one of the congresses where I volunteered I was put on “door duty,” which means that I checked that each students’ color-coded bracelet pass that authorizes them to take the class. Well, there was one guy off in the corner without a bracelet, boldly recording every second. After confirming with the organizers, I walked across the large room to whisper flatly that he could not just record the whole class and escorted him to where he was welcomed to stand and watch: at the door. With that he finally put his cell phone away and tried to smile his way out of the embarrassing situation.

That same day, I thought I noticed a woman who didn’t have a bracelet about a quarter way through the class, so I got closer and inquired. She replied that she did have a pass, so I asked her to go speak to the organizers at reception because everyone needed to wear the bracelet. Not surprisingly, it turns out she did not have a pass.

Far beyond lacking in etiquette, these are examples of people who actually drain the effort, money and time it takes from so many people who love and want to grow a dance community.

Q: Can I post the complete videos of workshops on chat groups?

A: If it’s a closed chat group and everyone in this chat group paid for the entrance to the dance congress, it’s generally considered ok. You might want to add a line as you are sending it as a reminder not to post it on social media or forward it to people who weren’t there.

If it’s a chat group that is not attending the congress, you should treat it the same as social media and only forward the dance demo with music, and with the same reminder for our brainless friends.

You know you’ve got at least one.

Q: Can I record and post videos of social dancing?

A: Dancers either love or hate the flashlight on video cams and mobiles during socials. You’ll see it on their face pretty immediately, so put C3P0 aside and turn your human-emotion receptors “on” so that you can tell the difference.

“Love it” … they start hamming it up.

“Hate it” … their smile disappears and they sigh, or even more directly they just hold up their hand or shake their head.

The answer would be then, yes, if they are loving it, you can continue recording and post it on social media. Some dancers have even become famous, not for teaching, but due to videos of them on the dance floor. If a dance couple you’re recording is not digging it, be respectful and point the camera onto some other couple that will love the attention.

2. Set Expectations From the Beginning with Roomies

Ideally, you room with your personality doppleganger, but in case you’re very different, just state what your habits and expectations outright from the beginning.

This is simply a casual conversation as you are making arrangements to pay online, or if you haven’t had that conversation, at least have it while opening your luggage and settling into your room. No biggie. Topics to cover:

– Your respective levels of cleanliness. If messiness isn’t a problem for you, tell that story about how one time your clothes was strewn all over the room that you wore your roomie’s clothes and they wore yours. On the other end of the spectrum, if your OCD is an issue with others, tell them how you recently spent a half hour re-arranging the bathroom toiletries by size and color.

Prompt your roomie to hear his/her story. No doubt they’ve got a few. Proclaim, like wigged forefathers drafting the constitution, some concrete actions that you will take with the purposefully-stated intention to make your roomie feel comfy. Most people will respond in kind, and that’s what we want. ๐Ÿ˜‰ A Peace Accord before a war starts.

Visitors. Establish if you are ok with people coming over. New acquaintances. Friends. Talk about what your level of comfort is with people being in your room when one or both of you are not present. Sadly, belongings have been known to go missing in the absence of precautions.

And we aren’t too shy to talk about it:

Lovers. Is everyone in the room ok with this?

If not, rent another room.

If yes, set a signal. I bet whoever invented the tie never dreamed that today it would have the equivalent meaning to a “do not disturb” sign when hung on a doorknob. While a tie or actual “do not disturb” sign may be enough, it’s easy to imagine how many times people have been shocked on both sides of the door when it opens suddenly. Just a warning! lol

3. How to Behave with Famous Dancers on the Dance Floor

Have you noticed that some instructors disappear for long periods of time during socials? Could it have something to do with obnoxious behaviors they must endure after a long day of workshops and everyone vying for their attention?

If you enjoy being embarrassed, feel free to ignore the following etiquette advice.

Q: Should a beginner or intermediate-level student ask a famous instructor to dance at a social?

A: You won’t get one answer if you ask instructors. You’ll get a thousand and one!

Sure, advanced dancers should say yes when the occasional beginner or intermediate dancer asks for a dance. If advanced dancers genuinely want to help beginner/intermediate to advance, they should also be proactive and ask them to dance. Everyone was a beginner at one point! I am grateful to the many gentlemen who asked me to dance time and again, and would offer tips on the sidelines. And let’s not forget that there’s always a learning opportunity; even from an advanced dancer dancing with a beginner.


You’re at a dance social because you want to have fun… and so are instructors. If you are not confident that a dance instructor will truly enjoy at least half of that dance with you, why bother?

If you think a dance instructor will enjoy a dance with you, go ahead.

Ask them for a dance and give it your all. But limit yourself to…

One. Singular.

As in… less than two.

No more than one. A dance.

In fact, 1.01 dances is .01 too much. And somewhere not so deep inside they are hoping for a short song.

Math lesson accomplished.

If you aren’t “there” yet with your dance, don’t worry. Keep taking classes! Keep going to socials! We love to have you there! Get yourself a dance partner and focus! Read advice from dancers who have soared quickly into advanced levels.


*Side note: Youtube might mute the music in your video. Why? Are you an advanced YouTube user and have qualified and are enrolled in their “profit-sharing program” with musicians? If none of that sounds familiar, then YouTube might just mute the music on any video you post because you do not qualify to earn advertising money off that music and the copyright owners of that music have an agreement with YouTube that they will only allow their music to appear in a video if they get a share of the advertising profits. Complicated. Easier to just post on Instagram.

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