[social dancing] Inviting a NON dancing friend

Dr Dance

Well-Known Member
When my partner Sherri and I were recently e mailing each other to meet at a specified dance, she included this message, "I may bring along a non dancing friend 'to observe'."

I was immediately on "yellow alert." But I couldn't resist teasing her a bit.

"Is she hawt?"

"Say WHAT?"

"You know... is she smokin'?"

"She's very shy but friendly."

Her name was Joan. And she did impress me as being very nice and sweet. But it seemed odd to me that she showed up, but wouldn't dance. I offered to dance a merengue with her. But she politely declined. I took it in stride and I was not put upon.

"It's been years since I was on the dance floor," she explained. Perhaps Joan had a poor experience when she was last "on the dance floor." Bad events can color our opinions.

I give Sherri lots of credit here... She was very attentive to her friend. But when Sherri and I danced, Joan just sat there looking very bored. Sherri offered to show Joan "a few basic steps." But Joan was not having any of it.

As I could have predicted, they both left early. I want to conclude that Joan had an interesting time. But I only observed her being detached and disinterested. Sherri and I were both good ambassadors that night. I was on my best behavior. But I believe that dancing may not be Joan's thing. To each her own. I'll get some feedback later from Sherri about Joan's "visit."

Inviting non dancing friends to a social dance: good idea or bad idea?


Site Moderator
Staff member
I remember being a new dancer and behaving similarly to Joan...when you don't really know the steps and you see others who clearly know what they are doing, you have no idea how you will fare and whether or not the lead will be able to adjust to all that you cannot do...and there is this fear that if you dance with one guy, you might be asked by others who you don't know and who aren't expecting that you know nothing....I remember dancing jitterbug with a guy that did ecs triple steps and I was ...well....a wreck...I even remember turning my instructor down at a social because he asked me to do a salsa and I hadn't had any lessons on it...I think he was offended but for me, it was a terrifying prospect ....I agree with TT though, you may have planted a seed

Dr Dance

Well-Known Member
I asked Sherri if Joan had any reaction. Sherri said that she thinks that Joan is still "digesting" what took place that evening.

Tangotime had a good perspective that "a seed was planted." The dancers that were there were having a great time for the most part.

Fasc, thank you for your perspectives. I do get that newbies of either gender have a fear of looking incompetent when they are bold enough to try. But from my experience, dancers generally don't look down upon others who display poor skills. Most are encouraging and supportive especially in a social setting. My own partner teases me mercilessly when I screw up. But she does this with affection, not malice.

Also noteworthy about Joan are the unknown elements of her dancing background. She HAS had some experience, but this was many years ago. Why did she once quit? What originally sparked her interest? Stay tuned.


Well-Known Member
A lot of the places I go to have a one-hour lesson, and then an open floor. I try to keep an eye out for the ladies in the beginner group and ask at least one of them to dance when the floor becomes open, because I feel like they could use the encouragement and the inclusion. Every time I ask one of them to dance, they tell me immediately, "I only know the basic step" or "I just started dancing today" or something along those lines. They don't say it with an "I don't want to dance with you" attitude though. They say it more like "you should know that...". I tell them it's fine. We dance, and they enjoy themselves.

Most people, in my experience, get up and try when someone (who is usually not even their friend) offers to show them a few basic steps. It seems to me that dancing isn't Joan's thing.

I may be wrong though. There's also the thing about the bad experience the last time she was on the floor...
I guess I would be hesitant to invite a friend that I KNOW wouldn't at least give it a try. I've brought a few people along with me to social functions at the studio, and they have all been game enough to go out and give it a whirl when asked. Just seems a little funny to me to invite a friend along to an activity where you know they won't want to partake, and then have them sit on the sidelines....it would be like inviting me to the gun range or something. No interest.

I do think it is GREAT to invite friends that don't dance to come (especially if there are good pros or other dancers that can give some basic instruction on the fly). While none of my friends that have come along have signed up for lessons YET, they still enjoyed themselves, and understand my fascination with dancing a bit better.
I have invited non-dancing friends to a ballroom evening several times. Gradually, I developed a set of rules for the best outcome:

* A personal story about dancing must be told him (or her), beginning with "Do you think I knew anything ... when in 2005 I ... ?"

* A description of the event must be given to him in advance.

* Social rules must be explained, since there are many misconceptions around - I have heard many and fell a victim as a conduct was executed upon me.

* It must be decided in advance, whether he will dance or not.

* If not, then it must be decided in advance, that he can leave early or very early, let us say, after 10 minutes, but not earlier, because then he will not capture the essence.

* If he is brave to attempt a dance, he must be taught one or two basic steps of salsa, merenge or rumba, in advance. The DJ must play a song of these while he is present.

* Also he must be taught about frame and counting in Slows and Quicks. Without any dance experience, only naturally-talented ones can accomplish this.

* Arrange with somebody to invite him. Often an introduction accomplishes this - the dancers will understand their task.

In my experience, asking him "Just come with me, watch, perhaps dance a number" without preparation does not bring to good outcome. And what a big joy it is, to teach him the basic step of salsa (at home).


Well-Known Member
Bad idea if you're two. It's like having a date and bringing an observer.
But if you're a whole group then yes why not. I once brought a non-dancer (and from another country) to a ballroom evening, we were a group (two cars), the place was vintage and alongside a river, there was food, drinks, laughs, always someone remaining at the table to chat with her when the rest of us were dancing.

Dr Dance

Well-Known Member
Yeah... Sherri and I "were two." I tried to get us seats at one of the large singles tables. But at this very popular event, all of the singles seats were taken by the time that I arrived. The three of us had to sit at a small table by ourselves.

Bottom line... Joan was indulging her friend Sherri by even coming to the dance. There was really nothing that either Sherri or I could do to shake her "third wheel syndrome." (Joan has a distinctive and telling background which shall remain private.) Although Sherri and I put forth a fine effort at being attentive, ballroom dancing isn't Joan's cup of tea. :(

However, the two of them are going to vacation at the ocean all next week for a "girls' week off!" :)


Well-Known Member
I've given up on trying to talk anyone into dancing if they don't want to. I just don't have the energy for it, and most of the time the effort is wasted. I've taught too many couples where one of them wanted to dance and the other only did it grudgingly to make their partner happy, and it was miserable for everyone. If they show some interest, I'm all for it and will help them all I can.


Well-Known Member
I feel no obligation to be a dance missionary. If someone is interested and wants to tag along and try it out, great, I'm happy to accommodate and be of any assistance I can. But just as I don't want people trying to talk me into golf, poker, skydiving, etc, I don't try to talk other people into sampling my hobbies.

It sounds to me like Joan was generally gracious about the whole situation, but it would be wise not to do that to anyone else.


Well-Known Member
If someone expresses an interest, we'll ask them to meet us at the studio. Tip: don't let them ride with you, because if they get bored or don't like it, you'll have to leave early. If they drive themselves, they can leave when they want. We'll tell them, "Why don't you drop in for about 20 minutes. If you like it, you are welcome to stay."

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