Ballroom Etiquette: Basic Guidelines for Dancers

Ballroom Etiquette Overview:

From the beginner to the experienced dancer, it is an honour and a privilege to attend any dance. The time spent at dances by all age groups is precious. For many of us, ballroom dance provides an opportunity to socialize with friends, meet new people, learn new skills, try something different or just have fun. No matter your age, dance etiquette is a code of behavior that makes everyone’s time at the dance worthwhile and pleasant.

The following guidelines are not intended to be legalistic rules, but simple courtesies for all dancers so we can share the pleasure of dancing with dancers and guests alike. They apply to both female and male dancers. Each dancer should practice dance etiquette to maintain an enjoyable atmosphere for all.

There are some guidelines or even rules for the ballroom dance community, following which you show respect to your colleagues and make the event – competition or training – an enjoyable and interesting pastime for everyone. Let’s take a look….

Man and lady ballroom dancers, dancing in a dark room with spotlights. Ballroom Etiquette article
Photo by Marko Zirdum on Pexels

List of Ballroom Etiquette

  1. Always arrive on time for your lessons and the dance. If you cannot arrive on time please let your instructor know in advance. Do not expect that someone else will cover for you.
  2. If you are not dancing, make yourself useful by helping to clean up any spills, removing chairs from the dance floor at the end of each dance, controlling music, etc.
  3. Avoid wearing heavy perfume or cologne. Keep your clothing neat and clean. Some people like to wear perfume or cologne to dances, but others find it overwhelming. It’s best to avoid wearing any kind of fragrance so that everyone can enjoy the dance. You should also make sure your clothing is neat and clean so you don’t smell like you’ve been sweating all day.
  4. When you’re dancing, always try to stay in the line of dance. This means that you should be dancing in the same direction as everyone else. It helps keep the flow of the dance going and makes it more enjoyable for everyone. It is customary to dance counterclockwise in ballroom dance competitions and dance classes.
  5. Anything can happen in a dance when several couples are dancing. If you accidentally hurt or push someone, try to apologize. It happens often, but still do not neglect this rule of decency, calmly apologize and move on the floor with your partner.
  6. When you come to class, it is important that you are healthy. This means that you should be free of any colds or flu symptoms. If you are not feeling well, please stay home and rest. You don’t want to spread your illness to your partner. And since you often dance in close contact, the likelihood of infecting someone greatly increases.
  7. Personal hygiene and bad breath. Don’t embarrass your partner when he or she is uncomfortable pairing up with you for a dance. Make sure you don’t give off any unpleasant odors. If necessary, chew gum BEFORE the class (you should not do it during the dance).
  8. A good partner tries to lead the lady gently and confidently, unobtrusively suggesting the direction of movement, making an effort to avoid discomfort when dancing.
  9. If you have not been asked for advice, refrain from giving it.
  10. Always thank your teacher and try to improve yourself for the next time.

Ballroom Dance Competition Etiquette

Know the courtesies of how to act at dance competitions.

  1. The invitation to the dance begins with a bow of the inviting person. The response to the invitation is also accompanied by a bow.
  2. After the invitation, the gentleman gives the lady his right hand and leads her to the dancing area, observing all the rules of etiquette.
  3. It is not recommended to leave the dance before its completion unless there is a good reason for that.
  4. The couple looks at each other, not under their feet.
  5. As far as possible, it is better to avoid collisions with other couples and try not to touch fixed structures and equipment of the hall.
  6. At the end of the dance, the gentleman should thank the lady and escort her off the floor.
  7. It is good if the dancing hairstyle of the lady does not interfere with the partner (often a ponytail or braid during pirouettes can hit the partner).
  8. Competitors are required to adhere to the ballroom dance shoes and costume rules of this competition.
  9. No matter how good or bad your performance was, smile, be confident, bow, and leave the dance floor gracefully, politely, and beautifully.

And there you have it. Of course most of ballroom etiquette is simply common decency. Good manners and courtesy will make everybodiess experience more enjoyable and memorable! Happy dancing!


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