Physical Contact Do’s & Don’ts for Social Dancing

Here are some tips on what is and isn’t appropriate in the world of social dancing.

When do we touch and when don’t we? 

The essence of social dancing is lead and follow. We use touch, body movements, and hand or arm signals to communicate with our partner so it is expected that there will be some physical contact on the dance floor. However, once you leave the dance floor physical contact should stop. Continuing physical contact is likely to make some people uncomfortable. 

Asking Someone To Dance 

Asking someone to dance is not always a simple matter of saying ‘would you like to dance?’ Let’s focus on the physical side of asking someone to dance. 

It’s not appropriate to grab someones hand quickly or aggressively. The acceptable and best practise is to offer someone your own hand, giving them the space and opportunity to take your hand when they are comfortable. 

When to Ask 

Dancers attending a social dance are there to dance but keep in mind they are also there to socialise and catch up with friends. If they are deep in conversation, it is polite to wait before asking them to dance. It is not appropriate to interrupt them mid-sentence to ask for a dance, and it is certainly not appropriate to grab their hand and drag them onto the floor. 

Who Asks Who?

In days gone by it was common practise for Leads (used to be Gentlemen, now can be anyone) to invite Follows (used to be ladies, now can be anyone) to dance. This is no longer the case. If Followers sit and wait to be asked they may be waiting a long time. These days Leads and Follows are equally expected to invite partners up for a dance. The more you ask, the more you will be asked! 

Dance Position Do’s and Don’ts

Please watch where you place your hands as it is very easy to offend or upset someone unintentionally if your hands are in the wrong place. 

Leader’s right hand should be at the base of the follower’s shoulder blade. Leaders should be diligent in not letting the hand slide lower, to the follower’s waist and beyond, as this can be very uncomfortable for your partner.

Please avoid holding your partner too close as you don’t know what they are and aren’t comfortable with. When it comes to Ballroom styles where ‘closed dance position’ is an option (this is where partners typically dance with their stomachs touching) offer your hand to your partner and allow the follower to step into dance postion as close or far as they are comfortable. Do not grab the follower and pull them towards you. The same rules apply for Bachata which can be danced in open or closed. 

Say Thank You 

It is always polite to thank your partner for the dance and escort them off the floor.