In my classes nowadays there are many teenagers who enroll to learn couple dances, for them it’s a way to woo a woman and to enjoy a dance party with their friends. In today’s modern world many of us are forgetting that dance is not just about party and having a women sway in your arms. Dance is an education; it is a way to develop oneself emotionally, physically and socially. Dance gives you a medium to teach many things if one wishes to.
Courtesy in our lives is very important. If we are socially active on the dance floor, then a dance floor courtesy is a very beneficial tool for any dancer who wishes to dance on any ballroom floor, however, off the floor courtesy is also a welcome tool.
If all dancers were to observe dance floor etiquette and technique, the dance floor would be able to accommodate up to its maximum capacity and still permit movement and more enjoyment. Many a times I have observed that a dancer goes on the floor and starts to show off his or her expert background, which can be very annoying for novice or other dancers. When the dance floor is overcrowded, all dancers should refrain from “performing” and participate in “social” dance, or perhaps even choose to politely sit some numbers out to ease the situation.
Social dances are classified as either progressive or spot dances. In progressive dances such as foxtrot, waltz, Tango, etc, the rule is to move around the floor only in a counterclockwise direction. This also includes the patterns that take the man backwards. Do not move in the wrong direction, this disturbs other dancers on the floor, who knows the social dance movements.
In spot dances, such as the Swing, Cha Cha, Rumba, Salsa, etc, the couple should try to keep as much as possible in and around the small area where they began dancing. Do not try to squeeze into other couples or other dancers. It is important that their space is respected by you at all point of the time.
When the dance music is such that it permits more than one type of dance, such as a foxtrot or swing, the swing dancers should go towards the center of the dance floor thereby making it possible for the foxtrot dancers to move freely around the outside of the dance floor. Dance patterns in which the forward movement is temporarily suspended should be executed in the centre or fringes of the dance floor, unless one is sure the dance flow will not be impeded. This courtesy also applies to newer dancers, moving towards the centre allowing the experienced dancers to really move around the outside of the floor.
Dancers getting on the dance floor should not interfere with those already dancing, simply because it is convenient to start in a particular spot. Watch out, and move onto the floor with respect for the people moving towards you.
Couples should not stop on the dance floor to make conversation, pick up mobile calls, argue or discuss the working of a dance pattern in such a way that they block others from continuing to dance. If you are trying to get to the other side of the dance floor, walk around not through the dancers.
The way one dances and the selection of dance patterns should be governed by the size of the dance floor and the traffic. It is incumbent upon all dancers to be alert and watch out for others when changing imaginary lanes or executing a maneuver that may put them in someone else’s path. Like in driving, dancers should use good judgement and not bang into other couples who are in the movement of dancing. Good manners dictate that you apologize when you accidentally bump, step on or kick someone. It is quite annoying to be cut off, bumped, or hurt by overly enthusiastic or inconsiderate dancers who do not observe good dance floor etiquette and technique.
Off the floor etiquette consists of some basic human courtesies. When asking others to dance, ensure you request them and do not guilt or force an individual into dancing with you. Be polite, careful not to interrupt conversations but to wait for a break in the conversation and indicate that you would like to ask the person to dance with you.
If you attend a dance as a single, be careful not to over occupy another person’s partner in asking them to dance more than twice in an evening. Ladies, refrain from asking every man in sight to dance with you, if you are polite, you may find that they will ask you. If you’d really like to dance with a particular person, ask them once, and then allow them to make the decision to ask you the second time.
Gentlemen, when you are asking a lady to dance be courteous. If she apologizes for saying no and requests that you ask her later in the evening, then do so! But never force a lady to dance with you. Often there is a good reason for her answer. Also for you, men, do not over occupy another man’s female partner unless he has decided to finish dancing for the evening and she wishes to continue. Be conscious of another person’s feelings — this applies to both sexes!
Also, men if you take a lady onto the floor to dance please escort her back to her seat at the end of your time together. This will ensure that you have been a gentleman throughout. Make sure that she returns to her seat without slipping and falling on the floor.
Dance floor courtesy on or off the floor is really based on common sense rules of everyday politeness! Let’s practice this a little more! This will make all the dance lovers and the dance floor a happy place to be.
(Sandip Soparrkar is a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with National Achievement and National Excellence Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)