Chapter 3: Dance Etiquette
[Note: book sections
not presented on this website are titled and summarized in italics.]
For A Dance
Would you like to dance? This section
describes the local conventions for inviting someone onto the dance floor. Includes
a helpful tip for ensuring that you don't inadvertently direct your invitation
to the wrong person!
Getting Asked To Dance
Many women are still reluctant to ask men to dance, though I encourage women
to do so. For those who wish to be asked to dance more often, I offer a few
insights into the minds of leaders (primarily men), and some possibly helpful
First, the insights, which are somewhat obvious.
- Leaders don't want to get turned down, so they'll pick
followers whom they think will say yes.
- Experienced leaders often seek experienced partners.
- Leaders, particularly men, seek attractive partners.
Now, some practical advice on how to get asked to dance.
- Sitting or standing near the dance floor with a look
of interest works a lot better than hiding behind a table or otherwise removing
yourself from the dance floor. Leaders may equate distance with disinterest.
Also, since it's somewhat embarrassing to be turned down by someone whom
you have obviously sought out, some leaders will avoid this extra risk by
choosing more casually accessible partners--i.e., those near the floor.
- Shoes do not make the dancer, but experienced dancers
tend to wear ballroom dance shoes. Thus leaders seeking experienced partners
may look for followers wearing ballroom shoes. Dancers wearing sneakers
or clunky shoes are generally beginners. There will be exceptions, of course,
but it's a pretty good guideline.
- Taking lessons is as much the follower's responsibility
as that of the leader. I've met many followers who've ended a dance by mentioning--often
with a bit of pride--that they've never taken a class in that particular
dance, but just follow it. Well, I could usually tell.
- It will surprise no one that men tend to ask pretty
women to dance. For what it's worth, I also frequently see women clustering
around handsome men. But a pleasant, positive personality goes a long way
towards repeat business for both leaders and followers. Don't assume--or
worse, announce--that mistakes are your partner's fault. Show enthusiasm,
and thank your partner for each dance. Smile more. (The last one really
- A practical tip: yes, a short skirt will draw men :-).
But make sure that it doesn't bind your legs too tightly to dance.
A Bit of Philosophy,
Or How To Keep Everyone Happy
Ballroom dancing is wonderful because
people can ask each other to dance without fear of rejection. This section shares
a few thoughts on how this system works, and when it is or is not acceptable
to turn down an invitation to dance.
Since partner dancing is an intimate
activity, good hygiene is vital. Discusses smelling sweet, staying dry, and
keep those cold germs at bay.
Dance etiquette is a popular subject.
This section lists other guides to ballroom dance etiquette, some even more
extensive than that presented in this book.