Have you already read our previous blog about socials? So you feel ready for your first dance event? Great! But before you attend, we would like to share a few tips with you. These are the unwritten rules of attending swing dance socials. In other words: dance etiquette. These rules make sure we can dance with each other respectfully and keep it fun for everyone.
In a previous blog we already told you all about socials. Now that you are actually planning on going: what can you expect and how does it all work. The most important thing you should know is that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Do what makes you feel good. What we will describe in the remainder of this blog is the general code of conduct that we use when we dance Slow Bal. This is also known as dance etiquette. If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. Know your boundaries and stick to them.
While some dances requires men to take the plunge and ask a lady to dance, Slow Bal and in swing dance in general does not stick to these gender normative divides. We already explained in our blog about leading and following: in Slow Bal everyone dances with everyone. And that means that anyone can ask anyone to dance.
Some people can only dance one role, so they can lead or follow. When you have a look around the dancefloor you’ll see exactly who dances which role. Many people are ‘switchers’ though and can dance both roles. You can therefore choose to first discover what roles your potential dance partner does and then ask them for a dance. Or you just ask someone what role they prefer when you ask them to dance.
Don’t assume that men only lead and women follow!
Are you not yet acquainted? Then just go up to someone and simply ask: Would you like to dance with me? Often this question is asked when a song finishes or starts. Do you see someone lurking on the edge of the dancefloor? That is a sign they would like to dance and so they will be open to a dance for sure. Of course you can already walk up to someone before that and just ask. Would you like to dance with someone currently on the dancefloor? Then just wait for them to finish and thank their dance partner. That is your moment to step up and ask.
Let’s say someone ask you for a dance, but you don’t want to. That happens all the time. Maybe you are thirsty and you would like to go to the bar to grab a drink. Or maybe you have already danced a few rounds and you want to rest your feet. You can simply tell: now is not a good moment, but maybe later. This usually means that once you feel ready you go up to this person and ask them a bit later yourself.
If you don’t want to dance with this person, you can of course communicate that in a respectful way. Just be honest and say that you don’t want to or aren’t up to it. If you simply say ‘not now’, it could be the person comes up to you again and that could lead to extra disappointment. It’s better to bite the bullet and just explain you don’t want to dance with them.
It is usually etiquette to do one or two dances with one person. You thank your dance partner afterwards and move on to your next dance partner. It is never your dance skills if someone doesn’t ask you for another dance. There are also cultural differences when it comes to how many dances you do and people can have different preferences. Maybe a song is fairly long and just know it is okay to move on after just the single dance. Did you enjoy dancing together? Of course you can ask if someone feels like going for round three (or four, or five).
We told you above: if you finish dancing after a few songs, you thank each other and move on to the next round. It depends on how things are going and what people prefer, but a simple ‘thank you for this dance’ is a great way to end it. However, you can also see people giving each other a high five.
What we usually do: we talk! It is a social event afterall. So engage in conversation, ask someone to dance and Bob’s your uncle. If you ask a person to dance in the midst of a conversation with someone else, there is a chance they’ll say no. But know: everyone is there to dance, so often the answer is also a yes. Don’t worry to interject respectfully if you want to dance with someone. Tussen het dansen door maken we een praatje. Het is tenslotte een social!
Is your first social still a bit of a feat? Ask some people you know to join you. If you check out our event page, you will see where and when we dance. See you soon on the dancefloor!