Whether you’re a complete newbie to partner dancing and this is your first social dancing experience, or you’re a seasoned dancer in a new environment, social settings of any kind can be a bit daunting sometimes. Here are a few things you can try to help you ease into it.
Set a good intention
When you set an intention, it becomes the driving force of your act. Intending to have a good time is a good starting point.
Join the class preceding the social
Sometimes the organiser throws in a class before the social night commences. It is a good idea to join this for a couple of reasons. This will give you a chance to meet and have a brief chat with people who will stay at the social later on. Also, it’s a good opportunity to warm up for the night.
Observe the floor
Grab yourself a drink and try to observe the floor for a couple of songs. See if there are people who you’d like to ask to dance with later on. Avoid show-offs as they might not be the best ones to give you your first impression of social dancing.
Make the first move
Just do it! Ask someone to dance. This will give you a push to just get your first one over and done with, and things will get easier after. If you wait for someone to ask you to dance, you might be waiting for a while and this can knock off your confidence and mood very quickly. It could even put you off your social dancing altogether! Remember that it is normal for a woman to ask a man first too, not just the other way around.
Enjoy every dance
It is the responsibility of the better dancer to look after their partner, regardless if they’re a leader or a follower. If your follower is weaker, then don’t throw complicated patterns that make them struggle following. And if your leader is weaker, try to maintain the connection by following their mistakes well. This way both partners will at least have a pleasant experience.
Follow social dancing etiquette
There are a few things to follow that will ensure everyone has a pleasant experience during social dancing:
Hygiene – if you come straight from work or if you sweat a lot, make sure you bring a spare shirt, deodorant, or even a small towel with you.
Safety – exaggerated dips and drops, aerials and tricks don’t have place on a social dance floor. It is invading other dancers’ space and can be dangerous. Save it for the stage.
No Teaching – it is best to leave teaching in the classroom. This is a social set up, make sure you never criticise your dance partner’s dancing ability. If they express their willingness to learn, scoot them over to a corner away from other dancers and give them a very small lesson, though it might be best to refer them to your favourite teacher.
Be Polite – even if you’ve mastered the floor craft on the dance floor, sometimes it is unavoidable that you bump into someone, or your heels accidentally digging someone else’s foot. When this happens, apologise straight away. While it is ultimately the leader’s responsibility where you place your partner, as a couple you both should be aware of your surroundings.
Sitting out a dance – it is ok to refuse someone to dance if you’re tired, or don’t like the song, or as a polite refusal for personal reasons, but you should refrain from dancing with someone else for that one song.
Social dancing is FUN and not as daunting as it first seems. The first experience is always the most difficult one, but it gets easier the more you do it. Pretty soon we won’t be able to get you off the dance floor at all! Happy dancing!