Tips for a safer and saner dance floor
Good manners and proper behavior belong everywhere, even on the dance floor. And let’s face it, when you have a lot of couples moving rapidly in a crowded place, each doing their own thing, stuff can happen that isn’t always pleasant.
Regrettably, I’ve noticed an increasing lack of common courtesy on the dance floor over the years that I’ve been on the scene. You actually run an increased risk of bodily injury on many dance floors. It doesn’t seem to matter if the dance floor is half empty or crowded. Danger lurks at every turn.
There’s the spiked heel that lands right on the most sensitive part of your foot, the body slam from behind, or the elbow jab in your side. It could even be the leg that comes out of nowhere that causes you to trip or the long hair that whips across your face. Don’t tell me these things haven’t happened to you.
The worse part is that rarely does anyone say “I’m sorry.” When I clobber someone by mistake I try to apologize right then and there, but recently I’ve been banged into a lot, and the offending couple simply twirls away. Many people have told me similar stories so I know I’m not alone.
These kinds of things can be prevented and civility can be restored to the dance floor. That’s why it’s important to practice some basic etiquette when on the dance floor. It’s the best way to guarantee a safe dance experience. Here are some commonsense tips:
- Be a good leader: If you’re the lead, you should always be aware of who is dancing around you and guide your partner accordingly. If you see a couple next to you, don’t spin your partner that way. Likewise, if you see an out-of-control couple coming your way, steer your partner away. This is not the time to stake out territory. (Attention instructors: Don’t forget to teach your students this finer point about dancing. It’s important and should be part of the curriculum.)
- Be a good follower: If you are the person being led, help the leader. If you are the woman, you have a clear view of what’s happening behind your partner’s back; he doesn’t. If you see a collision coming, gently press his shoulder with your left hand to signal that you both had better move to one side or another. Or just tell him.
- Watch your space: While generally the responsibility of the leader, both people should watch their space. Stay in your zone if the dance floor is crowded. This is not the time for fantastic antics that take you flying all over the place and take space away from other dancers trying to have a good time. A true test of good dancers is to utilize a small area and shine. Now, if the dance floor is empty, go for it.
- Shoes can hurt: Women, if you’re going to wear shoes with spiked heels, keep in mind that they can be lethal weapons. It hurts when one of those land on your foot. Ouch! So watch where you step. Don’t be afraid to tell your partner if he’s getting so out of hand that you can’t control your spins and turns. And men, those large shoes of yours pack a wallop too when they land on someone. So don’t forget to watch your step also.
- Elbows in: This is a question of style, but do watch your elbows. They shouldn’t be up and out, but lowered. This not only prevents you from jabbing other couples, but your own partner too.
- The question of hair: You probably think I’m really losing it now, but hair can hurt too. Haven’t you ever had a pony tail or braid whip across your face like a whip? Let’s not even talk about a mouthful of hair! If you have long hair, you might want to think about your hairdo in a new way the next time you go out dancing. Of course, the same is true about long necklaces and swinging purses.
- Common courtesy: When next you bump into, step on, or jab the couple next you, please take the time to say “I’m sorry.” And do it right at the time of the transgression. It only takes a second and you won’t even lose a beat. I’d even go as far to say that if you get hit and the couple doesn’t apologize, stop them and teach them their manners!
Even in an outdoor setting, the rules of good dance etiquette hold true. Watch your step and be polite.