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A beginners guide to dance etiquette

November 11, 2020

Dance etiquette can vary depending on the style of the dance and of course the location. It is essentially a set of guidelines that help us navigate the social dimensions of dancing. The below dance etiquette do’s and don’ts are based on dancing with a partner.


  • Follow your partner’s lead! If you are the ‘follower’ (traditionally the role of the female partner in the dance), your role is to follow, and to listen to your lead – not only with your eyes and ears, but also with your body.
  • Be enthusiastic, energetic, positive and engaged. Self-esteem is important for both partners in a dance. Encourage each other to become great dancers.
  • Watch your partner’s back. This is particularly important if you are watching the lead’s back as they’re the one leading you across the dance floor. Be sure to warn or stop them from crashing into another couple.
  • Wear the right attire. Beware of heels that are too high for you to dance comfortably. Some accessories can be a real hazard on the dance floor, and no one wants to be punched by a pendant! Be sure to weigh up safety and comfort vs fashion!
  • Pay attention to your frame, posture and tension. It’s much easier for your partner to lead you if you maintain good frame and the right amount of arm tension. This will keep your hands where your lead can find them, and work wonders for your balance.


  • Unless specifically requested, back leading is ‘bad’! Anticipating your lead’s moves means that you are not paying attention to what they really want you to do. You may therefore guess incorrectly, and spoil what the lead had actually intended and halt the flow of the dance.
  • A good dip involves both you and your lead controlling and managing the move, support and shift in weight. Flinging yourself into a dip (no matter how pint sized a partner you may be) can cause injury to the lead if you unexpectedly bare your weight down on their arm.
  • Don’t focus so much on the style that you forget to follow the music. You can interpret the music with your styling, but don’t let it interfere with your following the lead. Listen to the music.
  • Don’t monopolise the dance floor. If you’re on a packed dance floor, make an effort to keep your steps small and your styling more compact. Be aware of the space you have and dance to that! Heels can be a real weapon on the dance floor, so be careful where you put them!
  • Don’t forget personal hygiene. You’re going to be quite up close and personal with your partner so be sure to take the necessary precautions! A shower, antiperspirant and fresh breath will be greatly appreciated on the dance floor!

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