How do I ask someone to dance? Is there something I’m doing wrong that I keep getting a “no” when I ask them to dance?
Check out our #dancememes and top 12 dance etiquette offenses. Just to keep things interesting, some of them are complex and diametrically opposed!
Give us an “Amen” if you’ve experienced these and make a quiet, mental note if you’ve committed any of these faux pas.
Advice: it’s about finding that middle ground, and listening to cues from others. After all; dance is a social thing. It involves imperfect beings and our myriad of tastes and moods. Keep having fun. Stay light. Laugh. Laugh. Laugh.
… And shake it like a Pentecostal on the dance floor! Amen!
Being pulled onto the dance floor, caveman style, without so much as a nod, much less a “shall we dance?” Don’t be surprised if they do like Nancy Reagan and “just say no.”
Suggestion: I’ve stopped giving in to whoever has the habit of grabbing my hand and pulling me onto the dance floor without my assent. I have faith that eventually they will wake up and remember their manners.
To answer the controversial question: Do I have to say “yes?” You can say “no” politely and offer to dance later. If you don’t like dancing with that person because they hurt you or are creepy, you don’t have to dance with them. Ever.
2. My Dance > Your Convo
You’re engaged in a great conversation and someone pulls a “caveman ungabunga” and whisk you or your partner away.
Suggestion: The follower can have a pre-determined answer: “hold on, I’m having a great conversation here, we’ll dance later.”
Leads: there are usually plenty of followers who want to dance and they are usually: 1. not talking (go figure) 2. standing on the edge of the dance floor, watching dancers with large, wistful eyes that scream “I want to dance!” You will make their night.
3. Chatty Katy, Chatty Matty on the Sidelines
This is where it gets complicated. The antithesis of #2 is …
After 2-3 hours of prepping, primping, perfuming and driving to the dance spot (which is on fire!) someone drones on and on into your ear, you are not enjoying yourself and are dying to dance, but they just won’t let you go!
Didn’t I say this complicated? Humans. Hmph.
Suggestion: Take initiative. Make a B-line for someone you want to dance with. No need to play a martyr or hostage. If you were the person left behind, don’t take it to heart. Someone else will love chatting with you. It’s guaranteed.
4. Chatty Katy/Chatty Matty on the Dance Floor
You get onto the dance floor but your partner won’t. stop . talking. What’s wrong with a little socializing on the dance floor? Aside from a friendly greeting of some sort, most people expect that if you ask them to dance it’s because you want to dance.
Suggestion: If you want to get to know someone better, do like old-fashioned times. Ask them to go out for tea or coffee. And don’t be offended if they do a polite pass. It’s life. Again, someone else will love chatting with you. This is a great, friendly – and growing – community to be a part of!
5. Repeat Offender
Being asked to dance 2 and 3 times by the same person when there are 20,000 other people to dance with.
Suggestion: Get out of your comfort zone and ask new people to dance!
6. Repeat Offender to Live Music
Being asked to dance 2 or 3 songs in a live music event … when each band’s song is a lengthy 6-8 minutes. An egregious form of #5.
Suggestion: Again. Get out of your comfort zone and ask new people to dance!
7. Bait & Switch
Someone takes you out to dance Kizomba, but they dance… Bachata. Or when the DJ advertises a Salsa, Bachata, Zouk, Kizomba night, and plays 90% Salsa.
Suggestion: Full disclosure among dancers: “Hey, I dance Bachata, but am learning Kizomba, would you like to dance?” or, as I’ve said many a times: “I’m a beginner in Tango,” or “I suck at Zouk, do you dance any Kizomba?” and you can do a quick negotiation and feel it out as you dance.
Some DJs are absolutely excellent at playing to the crowd. But when in doubt: Your crowd will be so loud your party will sound off the hook just by asking over the mic for a “whoop” to see if they want more Bachata, Kizomba, Salsa, or Zouk! It’ll sound like a freaking sports stadium and give off such good vibes that the whole block will take note and wonder “who is that DJ?” 😉
8. Pinch Your Nose!
You love dancing with this person, and wish you could give them … some deodorant and a breath mint.
Suggestion: Bring a bag with deodorant, maybe a change of shirt and gum with you.
9. Hopelessly Rhythmless
“Julio” or “Juliana” is always dancing on the 7, 15, 23 beat and has zero ability to take their partner’s hint when they are trying to dance on the beat and get them back on. Trust us, it is SO much better if you are both dancing to the same music!
Suggestion: Say something. A person who cannot feel the beat is likely incapable of feeling your physical cues, as well. Those people likely learn and experience dance differently in this stage of their dance process. Try alerting him/her verbally as you are dancing. Why is it so important to stay on the beat? 1. It’s the basis of your communication. 2. If you cannot agree on the basic timing of things, it means there’s going to be unnecessary and painful pushing and pulling. Having to call an ambulance for your partner is an embarrassing way to learn that lesson.
10. Dance Nazis
Do this. Don’t do that. Put your foot here… Like, in your mouth! You can really put your foot in your mouth by giving directives. You might be dancing with someone who is a better dancer than you and you just don’t realize it because you have a narrow view of technique. This was originally titled “Ballroom Nazis” for the amount of times that novice ballroom dancers commit this crime, but we’ve danced with wonderful, generous-spirited ballroom instructors who do not, in fact, commit this faux pas.
Suggestions: If the person is hurting you, of course, don’t stay quiet! But short of that, instruction usually comes off as criticism. Unless they ask you for advice, they are just there to have fun. Think of it like this: “for a brief moment, I’m getting to know this person through their dance style,” and don’t judge. Enjoy getting to know them. We are all faulty and beautiful at the same time as we grow through our dance journey.
11. Free Dance Lesson Anyone?
Although it is amazing to dance with instructors, don’t hog them. When they are at a social night, they are off the clock. If they are at a social night, they want to social dance. If you were lucky enough that they want to dance with you, it’s because they think you will be a pleasure to have a social dance with. And don’t be a “repeat offender,” give everyone the choice to dance with as many, varied people as they want to in a night.
Suggestions: Now that you know you like to dance with them, take classes with that dance teacher! Resist the urge to get a free class on the dance floor.
12. Octopus Sandwich
This list wouldn’t be complete without this one. There are always those one or two people who enter the social dance scene because they want to get physically close to men or women (and, yes, women do this, too!). These people press up against others, sandwiching them, and their tentacles “slip” to places they shouldn’t.
There is no excuse for constantly raising your thigh to hit your partner’s crotch 10 times in each dance. There is no excuse for breathing on someone’s neck. Or for “accidentally” touching someone in an inappropriate place (near the butt, breasts, or crotch) or pretending that it’s part of the move. This is not part of social dance and is unforgivable.
Your dance is like driving. You are responsible for your car, maintenance and any accidents. The law doesn’t forgive you and neither will the dance community because as friendly as we all are and as much contact as there is involved in dance, word gets around.
And… you’ve just made someone completely uncomfortable in the middle of the dance floor in plain sight for everyone to see.
Suggestion: You can do some probing and eventually find someone within any community with your similar sexual proclivities and drive, fair enough.
However, trying to find someone by asking them to dance, only to assault acquaintances or strangers and make them feel gross and groped is simply the absolute worst way to do it.
Don’t violate the wonderful, liberating and safe conduit of expression and innocent connection that is social dancing.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who altogether feel uncomfortable with sensual moves, such as in Bachata Sensual or Kizomba. If this is the case, explain that you don’t like sensual dancing, or simply say “no,” to any requests and explain that you do not like the dance. Why? Because you run the risk of making a perfectly innocent lead who executes a move correctly (but is a move that you nonetheless don’t like) feel horrible. You have the right to dislike a move, but if the lead did this without any dark intentions and did it correctly, they shouldn’t be made to feel like a gross human being.
Maybe you now avoid certain dances because you felt taken advantage of on the dance floor at some point. This is sad, but as we’ve mentioned, it is not condoned in the community.
For anyone who is actually being manhandled on the dance floor, simply express your fury right then and there on the dance floor and do not finish the dance with that person. Taking a stand on the dance floor sends a strong signal and the dance community will respect that and take note. These “types” are few, but exist and should be addressed. But be encouraged because …
Anyone who dances socially will rave about how fun it is. Dancing is friendly. Dancing is life-changing. Dancing is a positive, shared experience. Dancing can make you feel so good that you laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh….
Can I get an “Amen!?”
Written by Dahlia Ferrer with contributions from Andrew and Christian.
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