Ballroom Dance Etiquettes: Things You Need to Know

Whether you’ve been invited to a social event, participating at a competitive stage, or just took ballroom dancing as a hobby, there are some ballroom dance etiquettes that you must know.

You’ll be in front of a room full of people: some may be experienced and some rookies. As such, it is necessary to know how to dress up and behave.

Knowing these things is essential if you don’t want to be embarrassed in front of a room full of people. There are numerous ballroom dances from Country to Latin.

Popular dances include Waltz, Rumba, Cha Cha, Salsa, Foxtrot, and Swing. If you are planning to go to ballroom dance and you don’t know what to wear or how to behave, then we are here to help!

Ballroom Dance Etiquettes

Here are some basic tips to start with:

1. Grooming

It may seem obvious, but grooming is imperative. Make sure to take a bath, brush your teeth, and use anything else in your arsenal to make the experience pleasant for your ballroom partner.

Always keep a pack of breath mints with you, as well. Use enough deodorant so that it lasts as long as you’re dancing. Try not to use heavy perfumes or hair products with a strong odor since those might put off your partner.

Avoid cigarettes if you can, but if you have to smoke, go outside and make sure to pop a breath mint and wash your hands afterward.

2. Dress Code

Few pointers to keep in mind are that your clothes should be comfortable. Also, don’t wear fancy belt buckles or cufflinks that would get stuck in your partner’s dress or strike her in the face.

It is also always best to choose a comfortable pair of shoes, as you’ll spend most of the time on the floor. Don’t wear sneakers, though.

Before you start dancing, either close the buttons of your jacket or remove the jacket. It is also critical to find out the dress code for the event because you don’t want to be dressed casually to a black-tie event, and vice versa.

3. Invitation to Dance

Remember one thing: everybody is there to dance so don’t be scared to ask someone. Chances are you won’t be rejected.

Also, in ballroom dance, it is okay for either a man or a woman to ask for a dance.

If a person declines the offer of dance by saying “Maybe or Later”, don’t hesitate to ask again. If you’re turned down for the third time in a night by the same person, then take a hint and back off.

Return the favor by accepting all the invitations to dance, unless for a good reason. Even then, tell the other person the reason.

You can say you’re “resting”, a “beginner”, or unfamiliar with that particular dance number. Don’t use cheesy pickup lines, too! You can just use one of the following:

  • May I have this dance?
  • Shall we dance?
  • Would you like to Rumba?

Just be nice, comfortable, sociable, and smile. Introduce yourself and keep eye contact, and you’ll be fine.

Focus on learning and having fun, and don’t worry about imperfections in your dance.

4. Dance Flow

When you’re on the floor, it’s important to observe and realize the flow of the dance. Most ballroom dances expect you to move counter-clockwise.

If you’re a rookie or a slow dancer, remain towards the center of the floor. Outer rims of a dance floor are usually for advanced dancers while the middle section is for intermediate dancers.

If you follow these patterns, your chances of bumping or colliding into someone diminish.

5. Accidents and Collisions

Even in the most in-sync ballroom dances, accidents do happen. Occasionally, someone will bump into you or step on your toe.

Don’t be angry; just smile and walk away. It will help you avoid the anxiety and stress of the dance floor.

Similarly, when you bump into someone or step on someone’s toe, be quick to apologize. Don’t just walk away as if nothing happened; it’s rude.

6. Leading and Following

There are two essential aspects to ballroom dancing: leading and following. Both of them are a form of art, and it takes practice to master them.

When you’re leading, make sure you don’t force your skills on your partner. Judge the level of skill of your partner and then lead according to their capability.

When a person asks you for a dance, it’s implied that you should follow their lead. So, when you’re following, don’t try to lead. By doing this, you’re neglecting your partner’s contribution to the dance.

7. Personal Space

Ballroom dancing is beautiful, passionate, and sexy, but that does not mean an invitation to dance implies romantic interest. Both partners should be aware of these personal boundaries.

You should refrain from saying or doing something that would offend your partner or would cause embarrassment for you. Acts like kissing a woman’s hand without an invitation could be considered an invasion of her space.

So, both partners should treat these dance partnerships as casual conversations that you would have at a party.

8. Chatting

If you’re not dancing and just want to chat with someone, don’t do it on the dance floor. It’s not a place for chit chat but rather for dancing.

9. Crossing the Floor

If you want to cross the dance floor, walk around the parameter. Don’t cut through, as it disrupts the flow of other people.

10. Clean Up Your Mess

Don’t carry drinks to the dance floor because it could make a mess.

If you do end up spilling your drink, then make sure to clean it up before someone slips and falls.

11. Coughing or Sneezing

It’s natural to cough or sneeze, which could also occur during the dance. So, when you do, do it on the underside of your elbow.

Don’t cough or sneeze in your hand and then ask your partner to take your hand for the dance.

12. Appreciation

Last but certainly not the least, when the dance is over, applaud your partner and other couples as well for doing a good job.

Congratulate your partner or other dancers for completing a complex dance step. If it’s a competition, praise the winning couple. Also, a man should walk the woman back to where she was before the dance.

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Final Thoughts

Ballroom dancing is a beautiful and elegant form of art if you do it right. It is usually a formal social event to gather like-minded people to express their skills and passion for the sport.

We’ve covered pretty much everything when it comes to ballroom dance etiquettes. We hope that it can be a fun activity for you, rather than an embarrassing moment.

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