The 5 Deadly Sins of Ballroom Dancing

What follows is a list of the 5 deadly sins of ballroom dancing. Sure, that sounds a little dramatic, but if you fail to be aware of these pitfalls, you’ll be disappointed when you go to socials or other events that feature music and dancing. (Think weddings, cruises, parties, and the little bar on the corner that has a live band on Friday nights.)

Partnership concerns

Overleading is a thing.

Without detailed and consistent training in leading techniques, there’s a danger of overleading. This occurs when the leader exerts too much energy in communicating with his partner. Overleading is a deadly sin and happens when you:

  • …push too forcibly from the chest.
  • …lead with the thighs, legs, or feet.
  • …use the arms in an overly assertive manner when leading underarm turns and other open movements.
Avoid ballroom dancing deadly sin by being gentler than a boxer.
Actually, the toughest guy doesn’t win on the ballroom dance floor.

If you think that you may be overleading, read the Dance Safari post, “Ballroom Dancing Basics: 10 Characteristics of a Good Leader“.

Backleading is a deadly sin for followers.

The cardinal sin of the follower is anticipation. In other words, guessing what comes next. As the follower in the partnership, she’s required to wait until the leader makes it clear as to where the team is going. Above all, a good follower has to learn what the signals mean and let the leader show her the way.

Anticipating in ballroom dancing looks and feels like this:

  • …she leads herself into underarm turns,
  • …changes direction by herself,
  • …takes off into open movements such as cross-overs or fifth-position breaks before the step is led.

Knowing a bunch of steps, but not enough technique.

Let’s get something straight. In reality, ballroom dancing is not steps. Rather, steps are a vehicle to use as we express the music. They are a route, but not the only path to our destination.

A good leader will feel out his partner and perform steps and actions that are within her abilities. Moreover, he will not bust out a bunch of advanced moves and try to pull or push her into following them. On the contrary, there are specific physical actions that he must perform as he conveys his steps to his partner. Therefore, it’s not possible for a leader to be a comfortable partner until he learns the techniques of leading.

Good manners are a concern in all social situations.

Dancing as if you’re the only couple on the floor is a big-time deadly sin.

On (and off) the dance floor, safety and courtesy must prevail. Your popularity will drop considerably if you do any of the following:

…disregard the flow of traffic on the dance floor. For example, dancing against the line of dance would be the same as driving down the road going in the wrong direction. Similarly, it could have deadly consequences.

Avoid going against the line of dance – it’s a ballroom dance deadly sin.

…dancing in a social environment as if you’re on a stage or a competition floor. Expressing yourself is fine, but this isn’t the time nor the place for big, fancy arm movements, lifts, drops or kicks. In fact, on the social dance floor, we’re concerned with watching out for the other guy. To be sure, we keep things smaller and more intimate.

deadly sins of ballroom dancing include big leg lines
Impressive on the competition floor, but a
no-no for social dancing.

…speaking of intimate, do you really think there’s no such thing as dancing too close? Or, too sexy? You should have some concerns if others are saying, “Why don’t they get a room?“. Remember, you’re not the only couple on the dance floor.


Yes, this is a physical activity. Yes, you get to enjoy this activity with another person. No, that other person should not:

  • …have bad breath. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash after eating. Bring breath mints or spray to use throughout the event.
  • …reek of body odor. Shower often, use deodorant.
  • …be soaking wet with perspiration. Bring a change of shirt (or two). You’ll be glad you did.

We like this “Guide to Good Personal Hygiene“.

The only conclusion to come to is that if you want to avoid the deadly sins of ballroom dancing, have consideration for your partner and fellow dancers. Do it, and watch your popularity soar!

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