Social Dance Etiquette


Social dancing requires close personal contact between partners, some of which may be basically strangers. This contact requires some level of trust and respect. Social dance etiquette helps us build that trust and respect by giving us a general framework to work from. It allows us to have mutual understanding of behavior at events that encourage safety and respect.


Asking: Social dancing is fun, people are friendly, and most people go to socialize and dance with different people. Ask people to dance! However, nobody has to dance if they don’t want to. General social dance etiquette is that if you tell someone you’re going to sit a song out, wait for the next song to dance with someone else to avoid any bruised feelings.

Teaching: Offering unsolicited advice, lessons, or critiques to other social dancers is impolite. People mostly go social dancing to dance, not to be told what they’re doing wrong! Everybody has things they can improve, including those who offer the most advice. If you want to work on something together with someone of course it’s fine to go find a corner to do so (be courteous of those using the floor to dance.)

Hygiene: Use good personal hygiene when going to dances. Showering before an event, frequently washing hands, and wearing clean clothes are important. Also avoid strong perfume or cologne, as it will get on your partners. And it never hurts to bring a change of shirt or hand towel to prevent extensive sweating on your partner.

Shoes: For venues with nice dance floors, plan to bring a separate pair of shoes that you didn’t wear outside. Also, avoid any “grippy” or traction soles because you could hurt your knees. “Dance shoes” usually have suede or hard leather soles. Apart from that, some venues have more restrictions to preserve their floors. Dancing at some bars or places where there isn’t a maintained dance floor is a little different; it’s still important not to wear high-traction soles, but many people won’t change their shoes and the floor might not be perfectly clean or smooth itself.

Floorcraft: This is the general term for dancing carefully and considerately to avoid bumping into other people (or making them swerve to avoid you). Try to remain aware, dance more carefully when the floor is more crowded, and avoid “big” moves that might affect other dancers. In the case of a collision, it’s nice for everyone involved to say a quick “sorry.”

Trick moves: “Aerials,” flips, lifts, and drops, basically, any move that takes someone off their feet, are avoided at social dances and used for performances where people have specifically practiced for them and have room to do them.

Safety: Our organization does not tolerate harassment or assault. Please review our harassment and assault policies to ensure you can conform to our standards before attending an event.