Dance Etiquette Basic Tips

Some reminders to keep your night of dancing safe, courteous, and -- most of all -- fun.
  • Smoke or drink as far from the dance floor as possible. Never dance with a drink or cigarette in your hand.
  • Your outfit and accessories should be comfortable, safe, and easy to dance in. Try not to wear any sharp or protruding rings, bracelets or hair decorations, or take them off before you hit the dance floor. Take sharp keys out of your pockets. Stiletto heels are sharp enough to pierce a foot. Most importantly, don't forget your dance shoes (which shouldn't damage or mark-up the floor).
  • The floor is for dancing. Walk around the edge of the dance floor, rather than trying to thread your way through the dancers. When not dancing, stand clear of the dance floor! Good dancers are usually skilled at avoiding collisions with other dancers, but unnecessary obstacles are annoying and take up dancing space.
  • If you are too drunk to drive, don't dance! You'll just run into people, annoy them and make yourself look foolish. And, of course, get someone else to drive.
  • Be considerate of other couples on the floor. If you step on someone's toes, say "Excuse me" even when it may not be your fault.
  • If the dance floor is very crowded, (A) Don't take up excessive space or travel from area to area. (B) avoid Charlestons and kicking steps (C) Look behind and around you so you don't crash into or step on others. Make it easy for other dancers to predict where you--and your feet--will be. Dance in the space that you have.
  • Don't block the slot. Lindy dancers should be careful not to "short-slot" the other dancers when they have established a slot (a space the length of outreached arms on both sides of the leader). Respect their space and don't cut it in half by dancing on either side of it. This can not only lead to accidents as the dancers try to go into the space they had been using, it effectively negates their ability to dance, ruining that dance and leading to hurt feelings against the others.
  • No aerials if there's the remote possibility of someone else being in the way. Aerials, drops, and slides are for jam sessions, competitions, and performances. These moves should never be done on the social dance floor. Never throw or lift someone without their permission! You risk hurting others (not to mention yourself).
  • If you're about to perform an aerial with your partner, make sure she (or he) knows it's coming and is ready for it.
  • Take a shower and brush your teeth before going to a dance. Wear antiperspirant deoderant
  • Do not monopolize one partner for the whole night. Ask everyone to dance. Two to three dances at a time with a single partner is a good average; six songs in a row with one person is a little much.
  • If you came with a partner, it is good social form to dance with other people as well. The point of going to a social dance event is to dance with others (thus being a social dance), if you are only going to dance with your partner, it is usually best to go to a non-social place.
  • Today's beginners will be the good dancers of tomorrow, so be nice to them and dance with them.
  • Avoid patterns that your partner can not do. Dance to the level of your partner. Never perform an aerial that your partner does not know.
  • Never blame your partner for missteps.
  • No unsolicited teaching on the floor.
  • Whenever possible, if you are teaching, learning, or practicing moves, do it off to the side and not on the main dance floor. When you're practicing, it's more difficult to watch out for those around you. Being away from the crowd, you'll be able to concentrate better on what you're practicing.
  • Do not decline a dance unless you absolutely have to. Having declined a dance, you should not dance that same song with someone else (doing so is considered an insult to the first person).
  • Stationary dancers (e.g. swing dancers) stay in the middle, traveling dancers move on the boundary along the line of dance (usually counter clock-wise).
  • Don't play bad cop. If you see someone doing any of the above and they don't respond to being told nicely that their behavior is dangerous, don't argue, just alert the club manager, especially if the situation is truly hazardous (e.g., drunk dancers, broken glass, etc.). We all need to be responsible for each other as well as ourselves.
  • Smile, be warm and personable, be nice, and have fun.
  • If in doubt about a specific point of etiquette, it is often enough to invoke the following rule: be kind, generous, and unselfish.

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