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Social dancing checklist - do's and don'ts at the dance floor

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

What are the most important things to keep in mind at social dance events?


What are the best practices to build a positive dance community?


What are the do's and don'ts at the dance floor?


Much more than technique and repertoire, social dance is about connecting with other people and having a good experience together. Dance is a form of communication and social interaction.


As a starter, let's think about the most commonly used titles for this kind of activity: SOCIAL dance, PARTNER dance, COUPLE dance.



In this blog I will present to you some good habits at the dance floor, things that will help you set the tone for a good dance experience for you and your dance community. These are basic principles of social dance etiquette that all dancers should take in consideration.


1 - Personal care.

Good hygiene and appropriate clothes are essential. It is as basic sign of respect to your partner.


I wrote extensively about it in another blog (click to read): Getting ready for forró - a checklist


2 - Create a positive vibe.

Give your best to the person you are dancing with, regardless of the skill level you and your partner have. Be positive about the experience. Smile, be encouraging, and avoid unnecessary criticism.*


*it is ok to politely make comments on extreme situations - example: your partner is hurting you or making the dance uncomfortable.


3 - Start simple.

Be considerate of your partner skill level. Don't rush to do complicated movements. Build your dance slowly, always considering your partner skill level and emotional response.


4 - Focus on your partner.

Focus on the experience you are giving to your partner, not on what other people are thinking about you or your dance.


See what your partner brings to the dance and try to match it.


Chose movements that will be fun for both of you to do.


Don't try (consciously or unconsciously) to "out-dance" your partner.


Read your partner reactions and adjust what you are doing.


5 - Space awareness.

Do you have space to do spins, or is it better to focus on close embrace?


Can you do big movements with a lot of energy and flare, or is it better to do smaller steps and have a more minimalistic dance?


Be aware of your surroundings. There will be people around you and you should pay attention to what they are doing so you don't bump into them. Use your peripheral view.


Adapt your repertoire to what fits the situation.


Space awareness is not only leads responsibility, followers should be paying attention to what is happening in the surroundings and team up for an optimal use of space.


6 - Safety first.

Under no circumstances attempt to do movements considered dangerous to yourself or others, specially lifts or tricks.


Also, if your partner is showing signs of clear resistance to any movement, don't force it, do something else.


7 - Gender equality.

Each dancer can chose to be a leader or a follower.


Dancers are free to have personal preferences when it comes to what gender they like to dance with. No judgements.


Also, there is no rule about who should invite who to dance. Invite whoever you want.


8 - Be as inclusive as you can.

Dance with various partners, regardless of their experience and skill level. Try to put some extra effort to include beginners or people that you notice are not dancing so often. They are usually self conscious about their skill level and tend to be shy about inviting people to dance.


9 - Don't force yourself to dance if you don't feel like it.

Although I just recommended you to be as inclusive as possible and to dance with a variety of partners, you don’t have to accept every invitation to dance.


It is ok to avoid certain dancers if you have reasons to do so. But when you decide to decline a dance, do it in an elegant and positive way. Being rejected is not a good feeling and can also impact the chances of future dances.


It is also ok to have your favorites at the dance floor. You can dance most of the night with one partner if you (and your partner) feel like doing so. Sometimes we find someone special that we connect deeply. We should make the most of it! ;)


10 - Personal space and intimacy.

Partner dance can be very intimate (as we all know), and it requires a level of trust to feel good and to be natural. So, first of all, let's honor the trust our partners are putting on us.


Always look for signs of reciprocity when it comes to personal space and intimacy.


It is important to understand that different people are comfortable with different levels of contact while dancing. The same person can feel very comfortable having a sensual dance with one partner, but not with another. Let's understand and respect these choices.


11 (BONUS) - Go easy on yourself (and others).

We are not on a competition. There is no need to be a 'showoff' at the dance floor. Also, it is ok to make mistakes, we are all learning and improving. Laugh about it and move on! We go out to have fun, feel good, meet and interact with friends, even flirt a little bit along the way. ;)



In conclusion


Bring your best self to the dance floor and be respectful to others!


Let's have fun!


 

About the author


Rafael Piccolotto de Lima is an experienced music and dance instructor. He is passionate about arts, a doctor of musical arts, and a Latin Grammy nominee as a composer. For him, all forms of expression are somehow related. Based on that premise, his interest and work have a wide spectrum: from a tail tux at a concert hall, to the dance shoes at a worn-out dance floor. Born in Campinas, São Paulo - Brazil, now he lives at the NYC area, teaches weekly forró classes in Manhattan and produces some of the best forró festivals in north-america.


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