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  • Writer's pictureDawn Matthews

Dance Etiquette – Dos and Don’ts on the Modern Jive Dancefloor

Updated: Apr 17

modern jive dos and don'ts - image shows a couple dancing

Keeping a dancefloor safe and happy for everyone means there are some dos and don’ts that need to be followed. While the Modern Jive dancefloor is by no means as formal as a ballroom dancefloor – there isn’t any line of dance or anything like that – there are a few things that if everyone sticks to them, can help us all have a better night.

Do Take Care of Your Personal Hygiene

This one is absolutely non-negotiable. You’re going to get hot and sweaty, and so you should never head out for a night of dancing without a quick shower and cleaned your teeth, as well as a clean shirt, and plenty of deodorant. If you’re dancing in the summer, you’re going to need to take even greater care of your personal hygiene, so make sure you have deodorant, fresh tops, mints or gum, and towels in your dance bag, so you can freshen up mid dance.

Don’t Walk Across the Dancefloor in the Middle of a Track

It always surprises me at how many people, including experienced dancers, do this! Walking across the dancefloor when the music is in full flow is one way to risk ending up in a collision with a couple dancing – or at least, to irritate a fellow dancer who was just about to move their partner exactly where you’re walking! – and yet it is so easy to avoid. If you’re moving around the venue whether it is heading to the loo, or to chat with someone, walk around the edge of the dancefloor, unless it is during the few seconds between songs.

If you’re heading to the bar, this rule applies doubly, because sticky dancefloors are absolutely no fun to dance on, and spilled drinks can cause damage to the floor if it isn’t addressed. If you’re carrying a drink, ALWAYS walk around the outside of the dancefloor. Which brings me to my next point:

Do Clean Up Spills ASAP

As I’ve just said, sticky dancefloors aren’t fun to try and dance on, and even water can ruin shoes that have suede soles. Worse, if a dancer slips on a patch of water, then there’s the chance of injury. Please, please try and clean up any accidental spillages as quickly as possible, and if you can, warn dancers to stay away from the area until it has been cleaned up.

Don’t Do Flashy Moves on a Crowded Dancefloor

When you’ve learnt to do dips and drops that look AWESOME, you want to show them off. But when the dancefloor is busy, at best it can be annoying to dancers who feel they have to move out of your way, and at worst, it can be downright dangerous – especially if you’re trying to do those moves with a partner that isn’t experienced. Save your flashy moves for when the dancefloor has thinned out a little – people watching will be able to see them better, after all!

Do Minimise Travelling Moves if the Dancefloor is Busy

Again, this is one of those things that will start to irritate your fellow dancers, and can cause accidents, if you aren’t careful. I’m definitely not saying don’t do the travelling moves, but just be considerate of the dancers around you. Colombian walks and those other cool travelling moves are fun, but they’re better when there’s room to do them without potential collisions.

Don’t Smoke Near Windows and Doors By The Dancefloor

This is less of an issue than it ever used to be, since so many people are quitting. But occasionally, you get the odd dancer that does still smoke. The problem only really arises when the smoker only steps just outside the door, or stands near a window while they’re smoking, and this isn’t pleasant for those of us on the dancefloor can smell it. While I absolutely agree you should be allowed to smoke outside if you want, I’d argue that it is only polite for smokers to move away from the building, so that other dancers don’t get it in their face when they’re dancing.

Don’t Use Slipperine or Talc on the Floor

In years gone by, there was a substance called Slipperine that ballroom dancers would put down to make the floor easier to move around on, and sometimes, dancers would use talcum powder instead. This is a definite DON’T on the Modern Jive dancefloor, as it makes the floor way, way too slippery, and it has caused accidents and unfortunately, life changing injuries as a result. If there’s an issue with the floor, report it to the venue so that it can be rectified properly, and definitely don’t use any kind of substance to make the floor smoother.

Do Ask For Dances – And Do Say Yes When Asked

There are two aspects to this, and I get it – asking people you don’t know for a dance can be really intimidating. But if you keep in mind that it IS a bit scary to ask, if someone does come and ask you, unless you have a good reason (such as you’re changing your shoes, going home, or need to sit one out due to injury) then don’t say no. And if you do defer that dance, don’t accept someone else’s offer for that one. It is rude and doesn’t make for someone to feel nice. If you’ve sat one track out and said no temporarily, make sure you seek out the dancer that asked you for a dance later.

Do Smile and Engage With Your Partner

There are a few dancers that I can think of off the top of my head that don’t look like they are having fun when they are dancing. That can feel really intimidating, because you can’t always tell if they’re enjoying themselves and so it can knock your confidence, especially if you have watched them and consider them a good dancer. If the music is up loud, you don’t have to chat with your partner, but the odd bit of eye contact and smiles go a long way to both dancers feeling good about the dance.

Don’t Be Afraid to Sing

There are some dancers that I know it feels really natural for them to sing along with the tracks – and let me tell you, that takes some stamina to do! If you’re having a great time and singing along would add to your dance, don’t be afraid to do it. Your enthusiasm is contagious, and while not everyone will want (or be able to) sing along with you, it is always great when someone’s singing, especially if you love to sing along too.

Do Give Good Feedback – But Be Kind

If you really enjoyed a dance, tell your partner! Maybe they are a great lead or follow, or maybe it was a combination of knowing the song and you hit all the breaks in the song just perfectly. Maybe, you were singing along together and were just having fun together for the few minutes that the track lasted. Whatever made you really enjoy it, tell them. We all love great feedback!

Similarly, if you’re dancing with someone new and you’ve noticed that they’ve improved, tell them. That encouragement is really important, and I still remember how the more experienced dancers encouraged me when I was new, which built my confidence to carry on.

However, I do know that there are some dancers that for whatever reason, feel it is OK to tell someone that their dancing isn’t any good. Please, never do this. You wouldn’t want to hear it yourself, after all! If someone needs to work on an element of their dancing – or if they are a beginner – then harsh criticism can damage the confidence they might have worked really hard to build. If they really, truly aren’t good, then talk to one of the instructors, who can catch them for a dance and guide them in the right direction. Then down the line you can catch them for another dance, and if they’ve improved, tell them that it was a great dance.

Don’t Try and Lead If You’re Following

Ladies, this is mostly for us. If the person you’re dancing with isn’t a strong lead, or they are new to dancing, there’s a temptation to do our own thing so that they feel like the dance was successful – but that doesn’t end well. It can diminish confidence, and it means that we can kind of forget how to follow, which can be frustrating for your partners if you’re doing something that isn’t what the lead intended.

Do Remember It Isn’t The End of the World When Moves Go Wrong

Sometimes, even the most experienced of dancers manage to mess up a move – it happens! Dancing is supposed to be fun, and as long as nobody is hurt, just make a joke or say something like “we’ll try that again in a minute” or “hmm, not sure that is how that one goes” and keep dancing. You’ll learn from the mistakes, and be able to avoid them in the future.

Final Thoughts: Modern Jive Dos and Don'ts

These aren’t the only things you need to think about when you’re dancing – the actual dancing is the point of doing it, of course. And there will be times that exceptions will need to be made. But if you’re new to dancing, these are just a few guidelines to keep in mind, so you don’t end up accidentally getting it really wrong. Experienced dancers, did I get anything wrong? Did I miss something? Please feel free to let me know!

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