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Keeping Your Partner Happy


 

Make Your Partner Happy
 
The single biggest secret of success in social dancing is to make your partners happy.   Once you succeed at this task, your popularity will soar, and you will never have a shortage of willing and enthusiastic partners to dance with. There are many ways you can keep your partners smiling on the dance floor. Here is a summary, followed by more detailed notes.
 
Summary
-        Etiquette is here to ensure everyone has a good time in a social dance setting.
-        Ask everyone to dance. Do not monopolize one partner for the whole night.
-        Today’s beginners are the great dancers of tomorrow, so dance with them!
-        Do not decline a dance unless you absolutely have to.
-        Be considerate of other couples on the floor. Exercise good floor-craft, and do not cut other dancers off.
-        Dance to the level of your partner, and avoid patterns that your partner cannot do.
-        Smile, be warm, be personable, be nice
-        Don’t blame your partner for anything that happens on the dance floor, and no unsolicited teaching on the dance floor.
-        Wear clothing that is comfortable and dance-friendly. Don’t forget your dance shoes!
-        It is worthwhile to repeat once more the cardinal rule of social dancing: You are happy when your partner is happy…
 
No uncomfortable leads:
Cranking your follower’s arm to make her turn, pushing and pulling to bring her into position, and other forceful leads will not be appreciated. Unless you know a pattern well, do not execute it on the social dance floor. Keep it for classes and practice time until you have mastered the pattern, and then bring it to the social dance floor.
 
No back-leading:
When you ask or accept to follow someone in a dance, you implicitly agree to let them lead. While this doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect follower, or even a particularly good one, it does mean that you should not try to lead them. It is disrespectful and disturbing to your partner when you steal the lead; you are rejecting their contribution to the partnership. (It also makes it more difficult for your partner to learn a good lead)
 
Protect your partner:
For the leader, this has two aspects. The first is floor-craft. Anticipate the movement of other dancers, and match your moves to empty spaces on the floor so that you don’t run your partner into other dancers. Secondly, if there is imminent danger of collision, do your best to see that your partner does not become a contact point for an elbow, foot, or other body part. (she will have trouble trusting that you’ll keep her safe if this happens more than once or twice). The follower can also protect her partner by watching for dancers coming up behind him. Floor-craft is more difficult for beginner dancers, but becomes easier as you become more confident in your steps.
 
Dance to the level of your partner:
It often happens that the two partners socially dancing are not at the same level. It is important that the more experienced partner dance at the level of the less experienced partner. This is mostly a comment for leaders; when dancing with a new partner, start with simple moves, and gradually work your way up to more complicated patterns. You will discover a comfort level that works for the two of you.
 
Make your partner feel appreciated:
The most popular dancers are not necessarily the ones with the most skill, but rather the ones who make clear to each partner how much that person’s company is appreciated and enjoyed. Most people would rather not dance with someone who acts bored or distracted, no matter how amazing his/her dancing is.
 
Apologizing:
Try not to.  Many new dancers, or those dancing with a higher level dancer, may feel intimidated, and feel the need to apologize when they become out of step, miss a lead, etc… Remember that everyone started at the beginning… and EVERYONE makes mistakes… Keep in mind you’re there to dance, have fun, and enjoy the social environment.
 
Unsolicited teaching:
This is one of the more common breaches of dance etiquette. It often happens that a dancer will stop in the middle of a song to correct his or her partner. Even for experienced dancers, the social dance floor is not the place to teach or correct your partner. It is better to concentrate on patterns that both partners can do and enjoy. Unsolicited teaching can take the fun out of dancing.
 
Comfort and safety:
Wear clothing that makes it easy and enjoyable to dance, both for yourself and your partner.
-        Try always to wear dance shoes. Sneakers or rubber-soled footwear can stick to the floor during turns and cause ankle and knee injuries.
-        Avoid sleeveless shirts and strapless dresses, especially for active dances. It is not pleasant to have to touch the damp skin of a partner.
-        Sleeves that are baggy or low cut in the armpit are not a good idea, because dancers need access to a partner’s back, and hands may get caught in baggy sleeves.
-        Accessories like big rings, watches, brooches, loose/long necklaces, and big belt buckles can be dangerous. They can catch in partner’s clothing, and scratch and bruise.
-        There are many dancers who have sensitivity to scents. It’s often better not to wear perfume or cologne to a social dance.
 
 
 
 

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