Dance events are generally 4-5 hours long so it is expected that you will not dance to every song but there is a right and wrong way to decline a dance. If this is done incorrectly or rudely it can be very difficult for the dancer that made the offer to recover from it, particularly when they are new to social dancing. It is important to be careful of people’s feelings and the best way to do this is to generally accept most danes. There are generally 5 reasons you might decide to decline a dance that are considered socially acceptable, they are as follows.
1. You have an injury
Now, if you’re like me and love your dancing you may find that you are at a dance event even if you are injured and cannot dance! After all, you will often find you attend these events and do as much dancing as you do talking so why not?! If you are injured that is perfectly okay just say “Thank you for the offer but i can’t dance tonight because I’ver hurt myself. Can I take a rain-cheque?”.
2. You need a rest
We all need to rest at times but you need to be genuine about this. For example it is extremely bad etiquette (and a plain rude) to say to one person that you need a rest and then dance with a different person to that same song. If you refuse one person because you need a rest you need to sit out the whole song. It is also nice to ask if you can have another dance later instead once your rest is over. For example: “Thanks for the offer, i’d love to but I am just having a bit of a rest, could I dance with you in 2 or 3 songs?”.
3. They are treating you badly
Generally dancers in the social ballroom world are very friendly, respectful and careful people so you shouldn’t run into this problem BUT if you do feel that someone is dancing with you in a way that is rough, uncomfortable or inappropriate you don’t have to dance with them again.
The first thing I would do in this situation is be pro active in dancing with other people. If you are always off dancing with others then you are in complete control and will not have to end up dancing with that person again.
If they do ask you again and you don’t want to dance with them it is best to say “No Thank you” with a smile without going in to too much other detail as this can get messy and uncomfortable.
4. You don’t know the particular dance
If you don’t know that dance that is okay, let them know and set yourself up for a dance with them that you do know. “Actually I have never danced bachata before but could I dance with you the next time a rumba comes on?”.
(If you are feeling adventurous you should try anyway! you never know, you might really love the new style.)
5. You have already promised to dance with someone else
This happens occasionally. You have already promised the next cha cha to a particular person but you have not partnered with them yet and because of this you are asked by someone else to dance.
Explain the situation to them and promise another dance with them later.
“I would love to but I actually promised this dance to John. Could I dance with you next?”
As long as you are polite, respectful and encouraging everything will be fine. Remember that it is important to get out there and ask for dances as well as accept and decline. The dancers that dance the most, improve the quickest and have the most fun so get out there!