Have you ever made a social faux pas at the practice dance party and didn't know what to do? Maybe you are unsure how to offer or accept an invitation to dance. Here are some basic tips on what you can do to make your time on the dance floor enjoyable for yourself and your partner! For this article, I will be focusing on practice dance parties at your local studio.
1. The invitation to dance (and how to accept or decline with grace). Asking someone to dance, whether at a practice party or out in real life can be one of the hardest things to master. Luckily if you are at a dance studio practice dance you are in a place where you should feel comfortable. First of all...if someone asks you to dance at a studio practice party you should accept. The only exception is if you have NO IDEA how to do that dance. If that is the case you should simply say: "I don't know this one...can we try to Rumba to this music instead?" Your partner should be agreeable to that. Gentlemen should ask as many different ladies to dance so they aren't perceived to be "playing favorites" with certain guests. Ladies...if you find you are being asked by the same man for multiple dances in a row...it is ok to let them know that you want to practice with as many different people as possible. As far as couples go, it has been my experience that they enjoy dancing with different partners as much as the single students do, however you should respect their decision to stay together if they want to.
2. While on the floor... There are a few "rules of the road" when it comes to social dancing. I'm not going to go over every detail of line of dance here, but if you are doing a dance that travels, you should move counterclockwise around the floor with the other dancers. Slower dancers should stay towards the inside of the floor while more experienced dancers stay to the outside. Speaking of "experienced dancers"...You should be aware that newer dancers will not know how to maneuver around the floor as proficiently as you. You should not go racing at someone who is practicing their waltz for the second time and do a high kick over their head. Experienced dancers can avoid newer people and still do their advanced steps without scaring the daylights out of the newbies. If you should bump someone you should always say "excuse me". I've encountered some dancers who have run hard into me and then glowered at me as if it was my fault. In those cases I always smile and say "excuse me."
3. After the dance... When the dance is over it is proper ballroom etiquette to give your partner a hand (applause) to thank them for the dance. You should also escort your partner back to her seat. Don't just walk off in the other direction and leave your partner standing in the middle of the floor. Also gentlemen...if you just had a great dance you will be inclined to ask that partner for another dance right away. This puts the lady in an awkward position. She is there to practice her dancing with everyone...maybe even her husband or fiance. If you ask her immediately for another dance she will feel pressure to say yes. It's best to just walk her off the floor and come back and ask again later. For the ladies...remember...you are at a practice party which is considered part of your dance education. You should not feel awkward about asking gentlemen to dance. The best way to do this would be to just ask him if he'd like to "practice" this dance with you. (Gentlemen...refer to #1)
There are some basic tips for staying out of trouble on the dance floor. If you have any other concerns...feel free to leave your questions in the comments section and just have fun!