Dancefloor Etiquette at Yale Swing & Blues
Etiquette at YS&B dances is easy!
Asking someone to dance:
Everyone dances with everyone at YS&B, so feel free to ask anyone at an event to dance.
- Make eye contact and smile!
- Say, “Would you like to dance?”
- When they say yes, ask, “Would you rather lead or follow?” (If they answer, “Both!” it means they want to switch back and forth during the song.)
- We generally dance a single song together, and then thank each other and move on to new partners.
The fine print:
- Ask lots of different people to dance. If you’ve already danced with a person once that night, make sure you take the time to dance with the other people there before you ask the same person again. That way we all get to know each other.
- If you have a preference for leading or following for a dance, feel free to ask something like, “Would you lead?” or “Do you mind if I lead?” instead of asking for your partner’s preference.
- You may have heard that men should ask women to dance, or that men should escort their partners to the edge of the floor at the end of the song. Maybe that was true for June Cleaver’s cotillion, but at swing and blues dances today, EVERYONE asks EVERYONE to dance, and at the end of the song, we thank each other and go wherever we want to go.
When someone asks you to dance:
- We love it when someone asks us to dance! It’s lovely that they want to collaborate with us for the next three minutes. We smile and say, “Yes, of course!”
- If for some reason we don’t want to accept the invitation, we smile and say “No thank you.” Sometimes we are just too tired or the song is too fast for us, so then we sit out that entire song, and we try to ask the person to dance a later song.
(PLEASE NOTE, if there is ever anyone at a YS&B dance whom you feel uncomfortable dancing with, please let an event organizer know. We strive to have a safe, comfortable environment for everyone, and we are grateful to you for alerting us to any potentially unsafe or inappropriate behavior.)
We don’t all know or remember each other’s names, but we like each other anyway!
- People often dance together without introducing themselves. If you’d like to introduce yourself, you can do so while you’re dancing or at the end of the song.
- If you’re like me and you always forget people’s names, no matter how wonderful they are, you can always re-introduce yourself. Maybe the other person will appreciate the reminder, too!
- A great way to remember names is to look at the pictures from YS&B events. Join our Facebook page and tag yourself and your friends.
Dry shirts and minty breath go great with dancing!
- We all get sweaty when we dance, so try to bring spare shirts to change into. You might also want a small towel to wipe your face on.
- Put some of your favorite gum or breath mints in your dance bag, too, and share liberally!
If you are new to dancing:
Wonderful! New people keep our community growing and our dance alive. Welcome!
- If you would like some instructions on the moves people are doing, feel free to ask! You can ask anyone, especially the volunteer instructors who are at all our events. If you don’t know who we are, ask someone wearing a YS&B shirt to point us out to you. Just say, “Hi, I’m new, can you show me the basics?”
- If you’re ready to dance, feel free to ask anyone to dance. If you want them to go slow for you, just say, “I’m pretty new, so can we keep it simple?”
- Insider’s tip: you may find it easier to follow than to lead when you’re just starting out, so whether you’re male or female, try asking your partner to lead until you get the feel for it. Just say, “I’m new at this, would you mind leading?”
If you would like feedback:
We never ever criticize each other’s dancing at a social dance. So if you want someone to give you pointers, you have to ask!
- If there’s someone whose dancing you particularly like, you can ask them to give you feedback on your dancing.
- Tell them you want feedback before the song starts. Otherwise they may not be ready to give you useful observations afterwards. Just say, “I’m working on my X tonight. Would you dance with me and tell me how it feels to you?”
- Thank them for their feedback!
If someone asks you for feedback:
It’s such a compliment when someone seeks out our opinion of their dancing. Remember to stay brief and positive.
- Pick one or two things you think will be helpful to the person, like taking smaller steps or relaxing their arms.
- State your observation as an I-statement, like “I sometimes had a hard time matching your steps. I think it would be easier for me if you took smaller steps.”
Being a great dance citizen:
What can you do to build up our community, beyond following the basic guidelines for dancefloor etiquette? We’re so glad you asked!
- Volunteer. You can take a door shift at a monthly dance, host a blues party in your home, put up flyers near your building, or take pictures at a dance. The more volunteers we have, the more dancing there will be–it’s that simple.
- Rule of 3. Whenever you are going dancing, think of at least three people you’d like to see there, and send them a quick message to let them know you’re thinking of them.
- Come to class. Even if you already know the basics, you are still invited to come to beginner classes. Just participate in class like everyone else, and the new dancers will be so happy to have someone with them who knows what’s going on!
- Welcome newcomers. Look around the room for new faces, and go over and introduce yourself. YS&B is building a reputation for being the friendliest swing dance scene around, and this is how we do it.
- Organize a carpool. Driving to New Haven for a dance? From New Haven to Middletown? To an exchange in Boston? Fill up your car!
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