West Coast Swing Dance Etiquette
ASKING FOR/ACCEPTING/REFUSING A DANCE:
- A smile is your greatest asset. Use a smile to ask for a dance, to accept the invitation, during the dance, and at the end of the dance when you thank your partner. Everyone wants to feel that the person with whom they just danced enjoyed it, so show it or fake it till you make it!
- Make eye contact and ask for partner’s name if you don’t know it.
- It’s okay to refuse a dance if you don’t know the dance, have promised it to someone else, or need a break. If you must refuse, never turn around and accept someone else’s offer for that same dance. When possible, offer to do the next or a future dance.
It’s always acceptable to refuse someone who has hurt you, put your safety at risk, behaved inappropriately in the past, or requested too many dances, but do it graciously.
Respect a dancer’s refusal to dance. No does mean no; no other excuse or explanation necessary. Don’t push or pressure someone into dancing if they have already refused.
- It’s acceptable for men as well as women to request a dance. If the person you are asking is with someone, be respectful and considerate of that person.
- Once someone has accepted your invitation, politely escort them to and from the dance floor. You can do this by offering your hand or arm, or allowing your partner to go ahead of you. Please do not grab, yank, or squeeze your partner’s hand.
- Don’t monopolize another dancer, especially one who is a better dancer than you. Two dances in a row is acceptable but then let others have a chance.
- Be willing to dance with beginners. We were all there once, and they may remember you after they become a great dancer.
- If you are being turned down a lot, check your approach and your smile. Ensure you are not asking the same person too often.
DURING THE LESSON:
- Follow the rules of the class. If the class requires rotation, follow the rotation as instructed by the teacher. Do not disrespect other members of the class by skipping them or not dancing.
If as a couple you choose not to rotate, please stay at the end of a line in order to minimize disruption during rotation.
- If you are a student in the class, do not attempt to assist the instructor unless asked. Do not talk to your partner while the teacher is talking, as this disrupts the class. Pay attention and do not deliberately deviate from steps being taught.
- If you are not participating in the lesson, please respect our instructors and students; keep talking to a minimum and at a low volume.
ON THE DANCE FLOOR:
- Please avoid criticizing your partner or blaming them for a misstep. Help make them feel appreciated and as comfortable as possible. Smile! Thank them at the end of the dance and walk with them off the dance floor unless they are picked up by their next partner.
- Be aware of other dancers. Do not crowd others if possible. Avoid collisions and protect your partner. If a collision happens, briefly apologize, no matter whose fault it was. You can warn your partner of traffic behind them, either verbally or by squeezing their hand or arm.
- Leads, please do not overpower the follow and throw them in the direction of other dancers. Leads should be subtle and allow the follow to dance themselves and avoid accidents. If the follow is not following, rather than strong-arming the follow, adjust your step patterns to their level.
- Follows, do not attempt to lead or back-lead. Leads, please be aware that a beginner follow may not have enough control and balance to avoid stepping first. Don’t chastise the follow for leading when they might be simply struggling for control. Adjust your patterns to their level and avoid giving instruction on the dance floor unless it’s specifically requested.
- No matter how good you are or how incapable your partner is in your own mind, do not volunteer dance instruction. Don’t count or call out the steps. If you can’t lead the pattern acceptably for your partner’s ability level, use another dance pattern.
Most importantly: HAVE FUN!!!!