One of the beautiful aspects of ballroom dancing is the way the dancers follow the unwritten rules of etiquette. Maybe you already know them; just consider this a gentle reminder. If you’re brand new to ballroom dancing, you may not be aware they even exist. The rules are not hard to remember, and will soon become second nature as you practice following them. It’s partially because of these rules of etiquette that the ballroom dance floor is one of the few places left on earth where graciousness is almost always in evidence.
1.Dance travel around the floor always follows a counter-clockwise direction. This is to reduce, if not eliminate, your chances of colliding with another couple.
2.If you do happen to collide with another couple, offer a smile and a sincere apology. This is not a smash-car derby and no one intentionally runs into another couple. But even with everyone traveling in the same direction, it does happen from time to time. Make sure that your partner is alright, then shake it off, re-establish your frame and keep dancing!
3.The outermost edge of the dance floor is customarily traveled by more fast-paced dancers; slower dancers typically make their way around the floor in the inner lane. During a dance that travels, like the foxtrot, waltz or tango for example, the center of the floor is typically used for those not traveling or couples who wish to practice a particular movement.
4. It’s perfectly acceptable for a dance invitation to be given by either gender. A woman is not seen as a hoochie-mama if she asks a man to dance, neither is a man considered a letch if he asks a woman for a dance.
5.It’s also perfectly acceptable to dance with someone besides your partner. In fact, in most studios it’s encouraged and most dancers enjoy the variety of dance partners. Dancing with someone besides your partner will strengthen the man’s leading skills and enhance the woman’s following skills.
6.Regardless of who asked for the dance, it’s customary that the man return the woman to her seat. At a ballroom dance function, it’s rare that you’ll ever see the man turn and walk away from his partner when the music stops. Chivalry is alive and well in ballroom dancing!
7. When dancing with someone less proficient than yourself, it’s generally expected that you’ll be dancing at their level of experience, not yours. There’s no need to be shy about dancing with someone who’s more experienced than you. It will do more than you can imagine to boost your confidence.
8. Dance invitations are rarely rejected. It’s considered polite to dance with whoever asks. Of course, it’s reasonable to expect that you might ask for a delay if you’ve just come off the floor from a fast-paced swing or Latin dance and need some time to catch your breath.
9. Applause is often heard when the music stops, even when there’s no live band. Dancers applaud their partner and each other. When the lady has been returned to her seat, it’s appropriate for both to offer a thank-you for the dance.
10, Be considerate and remember you’ll be in close contact with other people; be sure you’re fresh and clean and keep mints handy.
Of course, this list is not complete, and these are not hard and fast rules; there’s no punishment enforced if you don’t follow them. But most dancers do. The politeness and consideration that dancers show one another, added to the elegance and grace that surrounds ballroom dancing, has kept it alive for centuries.
- It’s Time to Bring Back Mandatory Ballroom Dancing (acculturated.com)