Good manners are just as fundamental to successful dancing as is correct footwork. Good dancing never compensates for poor manners. It is not corny or old-fashioned to be courteous; it is just common sense if you expect to have fun and meet people at a dance. Being courteous does not mean that you have to be excessively formal. Etiquette, after all, consists of nothing more than a respect for the feelings of others.

  1. Always accept invitations to dance unless you do not know the dance in question or if you are sitting out and taking a break. If sitting out, you should not accept an invitation from another person. You can also decline if you have already promised the dance to someone else, but you should avoid setting up many dances in advance. If you must decline, it is nice, but not required, to provide a reason.
  2. If there is a group of people together and you want to ask one of them to dance, be clear as to whom you are asking to dance. Making direct eye contact and holding out your hand can help make your intentions clear. Women can increase their opportunities to dance if they stand in groups of two or three. It can be intimidating for a man to approach a large group of women. If you can, avoid walking past people in order to ask someone else to dance. It can make those not asked feel like they have been passed up.
  3. If you are not previously acquainted with your partner, please introduce yourself when asking for a dance. Lead her onto the dance floor by offering your hand or elbow.
  4. Smile! This might come as a surprise to people who are beginning dancers but most of the time, your skill level has less to do with whether someone will enjoy dancing with you than your attitude towards dancing and simply having a good time.
  5. Try to avoid monopolizing partners. If you would really like to continue dancing with the same person, be absolutely certain that the other person feels the same way.
  6. The social dance floor is not a classroom. Try not to give help or advice unless someone specifically asks you. Do not practice routines at social dances.
  7. Follow the line of dance. Stay in the proper section of the dance floor. Faster moving couples stay to the outside and slower moving or stationary couples stay to the inside, just like traffic. Try to avoid stopping in the middle of the dance floor.
  8. Practice good floor craft. Adjust arm positions or steps to avoid hitting others. If a collision occurs, apologize to the couple you collided with, no matter who is at fault.
  9. Always thank your partner after the dance is over and escort her back to where she was standing. If her friends are no longer there, stay and visit with her for a moment.
  10. Remember the basic rules of personal hygiene. Shower off the day's sweat before coming and remember, if you plan to do a lot of dancing, a second shirt and breath mints go a long way towards ensuring your partner's comfort.
  11. Although tradition has men asking women to dance, there is absolutely nothing to stop women from asking men to dance.

Source: Marci Edgington (Provo: Dance Department, Brigham Young University, 2010).