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Dance with Comfort

Dance in shoes with smooth soles that stay on your feet as you raise your leg (avoid excessively high heels, slingbacks, trainers or flip flops).

Dancing can offer a chance to show off glamorous clothes, so take advantage if you enjoy dressing to impress.

Conversely, comfortable clothes are also appropriate, so we all fit in.

When trying on an outfit, check for movement (I personally stand in the shop, spin on the spot, then raise each arm just to check mobility). If you plan dancing to faster tempos, or to many songs, then dress to sweat.

Dance with Leading

Beginners can make leading easy by counting in the rhythm, choosing basic routines, and describing steps to your partner.

When a couple stand up to dance, one person leads while the other dances to this lead. Hence, you must assume one of two roles, either "Leader" and "Dancer".

Leaders synchronise changes in step to changes in music by subtly communicating advanced warning to their partner. Signals include eye contact, verbal, body posture and gentle pressure applied through the hands. A lead must be confident, but never forceful. Dancers must always wait for their lead and avoid anticipating moves before receiving a lead. The arts of leading and following are best taught by experienced teachers.

Although accomplished dancers may alternate these roles during a song, new couples should agree before starting who is the Leader and who is the Dancer.

Traditionally ladies follow a gentleman's lead, however, same sex couples must agree the leader-dancer relationship, and many modern women also enjoy leading.

Dance with Etiquette

Couple dancing has three basic rules:
  1. enjoy the music
  2. enjoy each other's company
  3. enjoy dancing
When dancing as a couple, you should be a supportive partnership (if only for the length of a song). So, only request, never criticise, and be polite.

Social dancers also help other couples by minimising collisions and smiling.

Try to avoid obstructing other couples but when the inevitable collisions occur, no matter whose fault it was, please apologise.

Many people enjoy dancing with a friend or lover, but men or woman are free to request a dance from anyone they like who is not in an obvious couple.

Try phrases like, "May I have the pleasure of this dance?" or "Shall we dance?". If you find a polite request denied, then simply assume there is a valid reason such as waiting for a regular partner, or aching feet, or exhaustion.

If you turn down a request to dance, please avoid dancing to the same song with some else.

Thankfully, complex historical etiquette no longer applies. In the modern world, an inclusive atmosphere welcomes same sex couples and tolerates diverse dance styles on the same floor. Indeed, I've seen foxtrotting couples and disco dancers simultaneously enjoying the same ballroom. However, tolerating different styles brings a new etiquette:-

Where the music (such as Swing Jazz) encourages both spot dances and travelling dances progressing round the room, spot dancing (disco, rhumba, salsa, jive, etc.) occupies the centre of the floor leaving the outside track open for travelling dancers to quickstep or foxtrot around the edge.

NB Travelling dances progress along an imaginary circle going counter-clockwise around the dance hall, known as the Line of Dance.

Remember, you qualify as competent social dancers by dancing till the end of a song with you and your partner enjoying yourselves.

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