Dictionary.com defines etiquette as “conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.”
That means that any time you put a bunch of people together there are rules to keep them safe and comfortable.
Knowing the rules of the ballroom will make your dance experience more enjoyable.
Some are simply common sense – try not to step on your partner’s toes.
Some are good manners – thank your partner for the dance.
Others are specific to ballroom dancing – travel along the line of dance. You’ll need to learn the rules regarding floorcraft from an experienced dancer.
An internet search for ballroom dance etiquette will bring up many posts from experts and studios. I’ve picked 3 that I find to be relevant and/or fun.
Floating on a Melody Ballroom is located in the Chicagoland area. It’s a lovely studio run by a very experienced dance professional named John Puskar.
This studio blog on etiquette is ideal for people who are just starting out with ballroom dancing. In it, John covers a variety of basic rules, such as:
- Asking/Refusing a dance
- Entering and exiting the dance floor
- Navigating the dance floor
- What to wear
- Personal grooming
A blogger named Aleksandr Biyevetskiy (who goes by the name Alex the Dancing Fool!) calls himself “a competitive ballroom dancer, blogger, and a student of life”.
His blog is called Ballroom Dancing Tips & Advice for Kids and Adults.
Alex provides a more in-depth take on ballroom dance etiquette. Among the many tips he offers are:
- Personal space
- Collisions and accidents
- Dress code for informal, semi-formal, formal, and black tie events
Walter Nelson is a social historian in southern California. His specialty is vintage dance.
He offers many services, including vintage dance instruction, historical character and musical performances, and he is an awesome vintage dance DJ and master of ceremonies.
His very entertaining blog is called Mass Historia.
Using Professor Clendenen’s Fashionable Quadrille Book and Guide to Etiquette (1895) and Rules of Etiquette & Home Culture (1886) for reference, Walter has provided fun tips from the 19th century.
- A man who knows how to dance, and refuses to do so, should absent himself from a ball.
- When gentlemen are introduced to ladies at a ball for the purpose of dancing, upon meeting afterward, they should wait to be recognized before speaking; but they are at liberty to recall themselves by lifting their hats in passing. An introduction for dancing does not constitute a speaking acquaintance.
- The ball-room was not designed for the purpose of making love.
- Do not sway the body with each step, hold the arms stiffly, nor hold the arms out straight in imitation of a windmill-fan.
- If a gentleman wishes to dance with a lady with whom he is not acquainted, politely ask the master of ceremonies for an introduction.
Picking up a few guidelines will make your dancing skills and confidence grow.
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