General Dance Discussion > Unwritten Rules of Dancing

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by lynn, Sep 9, 2005.

  1. lynn

    lynn New Member

    I was chatting with a friend of mine and a couple of interesting question came up and i'm wondering what everyone's take on the following subjects:

    Group classes

    When you are told to take a partner, do you just grab the closest guy/girl or do you wait for married couples and fixed dance partners to take partners first and then grab whomever is left over ?

    Do you pay attention to height differences/dance experience when you grab a guy/girl ?

    Do you introduce yourself if you don't know one another ?

    What if you are dancing/practicing with someone that just doesn't get the
    move, do you call the instructor over or do you ask the instructor to change partners or do you try to help the person ?

    Private lessons

    What unwritten rules do you follow for privates ? For those who have been with an instructor for quite some time (say, 6 months+):

    What do you think make your student-instructor working relationship work/tick ? Obviously both of you are applying the basic rules of being on time, etc. I am looking for anything else that you might be doing, maybe unconsciously, to have a successful working relationship.

    Practice parties

    if your instructor is at the party, do you ask him/her to dance or do you
    wait for him/her to ask you ?

    Most of us try not to walk across the floor during the dance but rather along the wall.

    Other social dancing parties

    Someone wearing proper dance shoes is probably a serious dancer, do you ever pay attention to the shoes that someone is wearing before asking them to dance?

    Do you normally ask if someone dances international or american style ?
    Is it ok to ask the DJ to play a specific song if they have it ?
    any unwritten rules that applies here ?

    Any other unwritten rules that you are applying that i haven't mentioned or
    alluded to in the dancing scene ?
  2. lynn

    lynn New Member

    OK, now that i've listed the questions, here's my take:

    1) Group classes: It depends. I go to 2 studios, one where students rotate every couple of minutes, the other, the students don't rotate. For the studio that do not rotate partners, most people already come with a partner, so as much as i like to be choosey in picking the most matching height, that just isn't going to happen. In the class that we rotate partners, i usually just choose the person closest to me, since we will get to dance with everyone, who the initial partner is really doesn't matter.

    When i'm running into problems, i would "prefer" to call the teacher for help. However, that really depends on my partner - i've had partners who would prefer to hide at the corner and would not want to be under the spotlight even if we're tripping over each other every step.....

    2.) Private lessons: I think the most important thing is that the instructor maintain his/her professionalism and have your best interest at heart.

    3.) Practice parties/socials: um.....still trying to work on this part.
  3. wyllo

    wyllo New Member

    Social dances: One unwritten rule not mentioned yet is that during a song where people might be doing both travelling and stationary dances (ex. foxtrot and swing) the stationary people should go to the center of the dance floor so that the moving people can dance around them. At least that's how it works here.
  4. lynn

    lynn New Member

    that's what beginners are told in our studio as well, the only problem is that beginners are often nervous and don't like to be in the "centre" of attention. That's why we often see a "blob" of people dancing on every corner of the dance floor....
  5. Shooshoo

    Shooshoo New Member

    Group classes:
    - I'd wait to see if the couples who come together get together first, cause some couples prefer to dance together exclusively. But if that's not the case, I'll just take the closest guy.
    - height, dance level, etc doesn't matter. in these classes there's usually just enough time to learn the move, not really dance, so it doesn't make much of a difference.
    - i try to introduce myself (if I remember to)
    - call the instructor..., Many men think they can't get it wrong, so I'd rather call the instructor to get it right!

    Practice parties
    - i usually wait for the instructor to ask me to dance, unless he hasn't been dancing for a while, then I'd ask him. I would ask only once or twice, not more.
  6. kdogg

    kdogg New Member

    Another unwritten rule: don't dance with a tipsy partner. The other night a lady asked me to dance with her and I realized when I got on the floor that she had a few drinks. One song was more than enough for me, but she would let me go until the end of the next song. I did my best to not bump into other dancers, but I failed a few times.
  7. luh

    luh Active Member

    wow, plenty of questions - lets face 'em :D

    i grab the closest kitten i get. or who i have eye contact with. Most of the times it's the one I'm already standing and chatting anyway.


    depends. sometimes yeah, sometimes no. depends on my mood ;) when i go to workshops i most of the times do. I think it's polite, - in my classes here - sometimes i get the feeling it is more polite to not show that i still don't know the name ;)

    mixed. I'm tired so i'm gonna put it short. i'm first trying to help as far as i can, and call the instructor as well. I like feedback from my teacher. And never ask her what's wrong with my partner, but always go like "I think there is something wrong going on - is it wrongly lead?" - she takes a look at it, figures out the problem (sometimes it really is me - and if not - she'll fix up my partner ;))

    Sometimes i just ask other people standing around who get it.

    i usually ask every kitten that is on the party. But normally i try to avoid my teacher. It's not that much fun to dance with her. It's pretty hard, because she'll never go easy and just dance, but always looks what i should improve - which is nice, but sometimes a little annoying :)

    nope. If i can't dance with someone, it doesn't matter what shoes she wears on her earth pads. And if the dance works, it isn't that important that she has good shoes, i'll just adjust my lead and won't do too many turns and spins.

    sounds like ballroom to me. i don't dance ballroom like that.
    If I'm interested in a special song, I'll ask the dj, who i'm very like to know already anyway.

    yeah, etiquette rules - but they vary from scene to scene. There are some specific ones about asking, and bringing her back to her seat after a dance, how many dances ... - but that can also vary from country to country (germany 2 dances, france 1, switzerland 2,...)

    hope it helped :D
  8. lynn

    lynn New Member

    of course it does!! Thank you everyone for the responses!
  9. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    group lessons....we rotate unless it is a guest instructor who doesn't know...I think this is best b/c otherwise the singles are SOL

    yes I introduce myself

    privates...I alway keep my appointments and I reverence my instructor as the wonderful person that he is...this covers it

    at parties...I being married now realize that I must do the asking as men are too polite to risk impinging upon my spouse's rights :lol: I do always hope that the pros will ask though

    etc...used to notice the good enough now to know by his moves whether or not he can dance well...I never ask which style as it is apparent rather quickly and I like the challenge
  10. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Lots of good questions. Here's my take:

    I've expressed my opinion here before about clubs where everyone is "paired up" -- I hate 'em. When told to take a partner, I grab whoever is closest, unless it's clear that she'd rather dance with somone else. Having said that, I will say that in groups, it's usually natural that we line up opposite our mates when we form up for class, so often the closest partner the first time we partner up is my wife. But that changes as the class goes on. And my wife and I don't always do the same classes together.

    Nope. I figure that I need to be able to dance with an adult woman of any height. Occasionally I get a woman who is taller than I am. I deal with it.

    Definitely. Further, even if I do know her, if it's the first time we have danced together that night, I make a point to say hello and chat for a moment. When we rotate to the next partners, I also make it a point to thank the partner I've leaving.

    I try to help if I think I can. I don't always understand the woman's part, though. If I can't help her, we wait for the instructor. I'd feel like a heel if I left my partner just because she couldn't get the move.

    Interesting question. I haven't really given that a lot of thought, because our relationship with our instructor has gone so smoothly. One thing I hae had to do is try to keep my frustrations a bit in check when I'm not getting something. I'll try to tell her that I'm not getting something and can she please explain it another way. Sometimes we go through several cycles of "when I do that, it feels like this", "try it this way", etc., before it latches in. Occasionally, I have to ask her to go on to something else. The other thing I have to keep in mind is that in general, my wife picks up things much faster than I do, and I have to make sure I don't monopolize the lesson.

    One thing we sometimes do is that, on Friday nights, we might make a note of something that we're having trouble with, and hunt up our instructor and tell her that we want to work on that on our next lesson. That way, she has time to prepare something if she thinks it's necessary. Also, at the end of each lesson, we sit down for a minute and talk about what we felt were the most important points made during the lesson, and she will write up some notes for us.

    The other thing that is important for us is to not take advantage of our instructor. She's a very giving and scrupulously honest person; for example, at the end of the hour, if there's not another lesson scheduled the next hour, she will happily go on past the hour without noticing, and without charging extra. That's very generous of her, but we don't want to take advantage of the relationship, so I keep an eye on the clock and remind her at the end of the hour.

    When we were new students, I used to wait for her to ask me, but now I ask her. However, she's very busy on Friday nights. She dances with new students to try to get them more comfortable; she answers the phone, takes up money, DJs, does the bookkeeping, etc. So I don't ask her if I can tell she's busy. Another thing in relation to not taking advantage of the instructor: If I do ask her to dance, although I don't mind her giving me a tip here and there, I don't want her to be in "instructor mode"; I just want her to dance and have a bit of fun with it.

    Agreed, to the extent possible. At our club, one can't go from the seating area to the door without either walking all the way around the room or cutting across the floor, so it's tolerated for that purpose. We just try to stay out of the dancers' way.

    I guess I'm a typical guy in this respect, but I never pay any notice of a female partner's shoes.

    Hmm... At our club, almost no one dances international (I only know of one couple that does it regularly). However, if I'm asking a woman that I don't know and haven't danced with before, I might try to gently inquire as to how much dancing she has done, so I have a feel for what I should or shouldn't try to lead.

    Well, at our club, I'm one of the DJs, so if I want a song, I just play it. :wink: Seriously, at every club I've ever been to, my experience has been that the DJ will accommodate as long as they aren't getting bombarded with requests. You may have to wait until they can work it in to an appropriate point in the set; for example, don't expect them to play a tango if they just played one a few minutes ago. I've heard tell of clubs where all the music is canned and the DJ has no control, but I've never been to one.

    I wonder about dress codes. Our club doesn't really enforce one, but the regulars do tend to dress in something a bit nicer than they would wear to, say, mow the lawn. My dress code for myself is: (1) No jeans or shorts. (2) No jewelry, other than my wedding band. (3) Don't unbutton the shirt down too far. (4) Wear a splash of cologne. That's pretty much it. My wife usually wears a skirt and a moderately low-cut top, although sometimes she will go in slacks (particularly in the winter).

    I'll add one other tip for beginners: As much as I like to dance with beginners, and as much as I appreciate them being interested in dance and coming out to the club, there is one thing that some beginners do that really annoys me. So the word here is, beginners: When a "traveling" dance is being played (waltz, foxtrot, etc.), if you don't know the dance well enough to move down the line of dance with the other dancers, then please stay in the middle of the floor or in a corner. Please, please, don't practice your steps in the line of dance and make the other dancers dodge you.
  11. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    Group classes

    When you are told to take a partner, do you just grab the closest guy/girl or do you wait for married couples and fixed dance partners to take partners first and then grab whomever is left over ?

    Technically you *can* take the closest person, but it nice to let married couples partner up first. In some rare cases married couples will purposefully take a partner other than their spouse during switch partners time. Consider them fair game then.

    Do you pay attention to height differences/dance experience when you grab a guy/girl ?

    Height differences, yes. I'm SHORT. Experience, not at first.

    Do you introduce yourself if you don't know one another ?

    What if you are dancing/practicing with someone that just doesn't get the move, do you call the instructor over or do you ask the instructor to change partners or do you try to help the person ?

    I give it one round and then call the instructor over with a "we seem to be having a little difficulty". I then avoid said person for the rest of the class. :twisted:

    Practice parties

    if your instructor is at the party, do you ask him/her to dance or do you
    wait for him/her to ask you ?

    I Ask. Often said teacher has many students to dance with and may lose track of which ones he/she has danced with.

    Other social dancing parties

    Someone wearing proper dance shoes is probably a serious dancer, do you ever pay attention to the shoes that someone is wearing before asking them to dance?

    This is NOT always true. I watch the *feet* first. Then facial expression. Good basics are a necessity and a happy face is a plus. I don't always wear dance shoes out.

    Do you normally ask if someone dances international or american style ?

    No. I just follow. Sometimes I will say that I haven't danced *socially* in a while, so to please be patient with me.

    Is it ok to ask the DJ to play a specific song if they have it ?

    Absolutely!! As long as it recognisable as danceable.

    any unwritten rules that applies here ?

    Yes. Don't ask for something that is off the wall as far as strict tempo iykwim. I like "One Night In Bangkok" for a Tango, but it is NOT something that everyone can get down with.
  12. Medira

    Medira New Member

    You have absolutely no idea how hooked I am on that since you mentioned it the other week... ;)
  13. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    Lynn, I'm glad you started this thread.

    I wonder if some of the women at our studio think me rude for only dancing with my wife (and occasionally our instructor) at practice dances.

    Sometimes I feel guilty when I notice several women sitting, becuase they outnumber the men.

    But I don't ask them to dance for two primary reasons:

    1.) My wife and I are taking dance lessons so that we'll have something new to do together.

    b.) As a beginner, I'm certain that the more accomplished ladies would little enjoy dancing with me.

    Sometimes, my wife wants to take a break and sit out a dance. I could take that opportunity to invite someone else to dance. Instead, I sit with my wife, unless our instructor comes over and asks me to dance.

    Is there an "unwritten" rule that would label my behavior "rude?"
  14. lynn

    lynn New Member

    Generally speaking, i understand if a married couple were coming to the studio together, they want to dance with each other. That's completely understandable. There's nothing rude about it.

    However, I would want to put in something extra: more often than not, the advanced ladies don't mind dancing with beginners - they were beginners once themselves!
  15. macha

    macha New Member

    J's pretty painfully shy. He won't ask anyone else to dance but me (and hardly that sometimes, LOL), BUT he's getting a LOT better about wanting to get out there and stuff. Now, if someone asks HIM to dance, he's ok with it, and he doesn't mind if I dance with other people.

    I don't mind dancing with other people, but I'm not about to ask anyone yet.

    I have no idea why I starte dposting. I'm flying with the Silver Cygnus tonight.
  16. Shooshoo

    Shooshoo New Member

    Is there an "unwritten" rule that would label my behavior "rude?"[/quote]

    I wouldn't consider it a rude behaviour, but you're both missing on some good fun. I would imagine I'd get bored dancing with one person all the time, even if he was husband, but that's personal preference.
  17. alemana

    alemana New Member

    i think you owuld find that dancing with other people won't take away from you and your wife's goal of learning a new activity TOGETHER.

    honestly i feel like couples who are so joined at the hip that they can't dance with other people ought to stay home, rather than come to socials. it's a SOCIAL. if you and your wife were wine afficionados, you wouldn't find it 'odd' to share your wine drinking with other people... dance is the same. spread the love.
  18. luh

    luh Active Member

    i don't think it's rude, it's just not polite i'd say. If you take dance lessons, to dance with your partner, you can dance at home. But dancing is a social thing. So you should ask some other followers as well!

    they'll certainly prefer a dance with someone unexperienced, who might well be a good dancer later, and it's still better than sitting out.

    So come on - ask ladies to dance with you. Your wife won't kill you. (at least i hope she doesn't) :D

    - i normally try to dance with every lady present at a dance night at least two dances. I never get it done ;) - there are too many. But plenty of them (more than 15). Dancing with just one lady is boring.

    It'll probably also improve your dancing /leading skills if you dance with other ladies, and your wife will certainly have the joy to get the whole load of your improved skills ;)
  19. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Not rude, but maybe... lame. Personally I don't like a woman so clingy that she has to be around me every waking moment ... oye! Tell you what--why not just try asking a lady to dance, and then afterward see how you feel and how your wife feels..? If it presents a problem, don't do it, but if not, then go for it. I bet that once you show to everyone that you are cool with dancing with other ladies, then men will not mind coming and asking your wife to dance more, so she may find herself occupied too! :-D
  20. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    I beg to differ with those who tell those of us who prefer to dance with our spouses that we should "stay at home".

    A social dance is not a "singles" dance. We don't go to singles dances for the obvious reasons. However, we don't feel obligated to sit home and *not* dance (who has a ballroom in their house anyways?) just because there are more of one gender than another at our local dances.

    For the record, my husband is the one who prefers not to dance with others. He was snubbed one too many times by "more experienced" dancers and now he has a "no dancing with others he doesn't know well" policy. He will dance with friends of ours but the general rank and file social dancer doesn't figure on his radar. And that's his choice.

    I will dance with just about anyone who asks (at least one dance). I do make exceptions to this rule (when pregnant or ill for obvious reasons).

    *If* we were in a group workshop or the like, we would both rotate partners because it is a good thing to try. But in general, neither of us feel obligated to be the social director or hospitality comittee at an "open to the public" event.

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