There is a lifeline, an Etiquette Preserve, if you will, that maintains the classic elegance that seems to be missing today: Ballroom Dance lessons. Requesting a dance, escorting your partner, and thanking them afterwards puts this group in the Etiquette Elite.
49 Steps To Great Ballroom Dance Etiquette
We separated these steps based on the type of dance program you may be working on, or venue you may be dancing in.
Etiquette for Social Dancing: 1-20
Etiquette for Competitive Dancing: 21-34
Etiquette for an Arthur Murray Group Class: 35-39
Etiquette for an Arthur Murray Practice Party: 40-49
Ballroom Etiquette While Social Dancing
1. Always try to dance with a wide variety of dance partners at a social dance event.
2. If you arrived at an event with a date, your date is your first dance priority.
3. A strong lead is measured by how decisive your movement is, not by physical pressure in your hands or dance frame.
For more on this, we recommend that you read: "What Is Leading and Follwing in Ballroom Dancing?"
5. Apologize if you step on, or get stepped on, by your partner or anyone else.
6. Reassuring someone who is feeling bad about their dancing always works best with supporting evidence, instead of criticism.
7. Don’t give unsolicited advice to other dance students.
8. Advanced students should never attempt advanced dance patterns with a newer student.
9. Thank every person you dance with, regardless of the caliber of the movement.
10. Don’t fix your dance partner’s frame (unless you’re a teacher).
11. The only obvious dance mistake is stopping on the dance floor to talk about a less obvious dance mistake.
12. There’s a big difference between turning someone down and asking them to save you a dance later.
13. Great followers will follow their partners even when the music doesn't match.
14. The proximity between dance partners in a frame should be dictated by the follower, and always to their own level of comfort.
15. Followers should avoid giving pattern suggestions to leaders - as they already have an abundance of items on their to-do list.
16. If you are unsure of a dancer’s level, the best leaders start out with a social Foxtrot.
17. If you are unsure of your partner’s latin dance ability, dance with clear rhythm, but use hip motion and arm styling sparingly.
18. Never perform lifts while social dancing.
19. Great dancers keep all rock steps compact while dancing on a crowded floor.
20. Great dancers should never intentionally out-dance the host or hostess of the function they are attending.
For more tips on dancing socially, we recommend "21 Challenges To Improve Your Social Dance Skills"
Etiquette For Competitive Dancing
21. Escort your partner from through the ballroom by the arm.
22. A great leader should always escort their partner onto the dance floor by the hand
23. Always present the lady’s hand above the leader’s
24. Leaders should always turn their backs to the judges (so they can see their number) during a competitive event.
25. Smile, bow, and walk off the floor with grace and courtesy no matter what your performance was like.
26. A great dancer will applaude for the dancers performing in front of them.
27. A great dancer will wear appropriate clothing for the ballroom, even when they are not dancing.
28. Be prepared to dance and waiting in the lineup area at least 5 heats, or 15 minutes in advance
29. Avoid changing clothes, or costumes, unless there is a long enough break, or it is approved by your teacher
30. All costumes for your routines need professional clearance at least a week before your performance
31. The leader should never bow before, or without, his partner. Instead, present the follower and allow her to initiate the bow or curtsey.
32. A great dancer never complains or questions a dance judge regarding their marks or placements
33. Stopping in the middle of a dance competition or performance is acceptable if you need to recover, apologize, nod, reconnect, and get back to dancing.
34. Stopping in the middle of the dance floor is not acceptable, for any reason, if it's to scold your dance partner.
For more tips on competitive dancing, we recommend "31 Things Dance Judges Want To See You Do".
Etiquette During A Group Class
35. Clap for, and encourage every dancer that rotates to you
36. Great dancers do not try to teach their partners
37. Great dancers support both the material, and the teacher delivering it
38. Great dancers do not show up halfway through the group class.
39. Great students watch, support, and encourage other group classes when they are demonstrating.
For more group class tips, we recommend "Gain More From Your Group Class" by Bobby Gonzalez
Ballroom Dance Etiquette During A Practice Party
40. Introduce yourself to someone new and invite them to dance
41. A great dancer doesn't interview their partner to decide if they will dance with them, they accept and adapt.
42. Finish every dance by thanking your partner and requesting another dance later in the party
43. A great conversation is more important than great styling when dancing with someone new.
44. Never use competitive dance choreography at a social dance event - unless it is a performance.
45. Follow the line of dance, counter-clockwise, around the dance floor
46. Advanced dancers should utilize the center of the floor to minimize the traffic around the edges.
47. Reserve right turning patterns for the corners of the dance floor for most ballroom dances.
48. Introduce the person you were dancing with to another dancer instead of leaving them alone to wait.
49. Self promotion, gossip, and negativity can prevent the most skilled dancers from finding partners.
To get started on the path to dance lessons at Arthur Murray, we recommend that you take a look at our Infographic on how to get started
Being a ballroom dancer doesn't instantly make you a better person, just like owning a tool box doesn't make you a handyman. It takes effort and training. By joining an Arthur Murray Dance Studio, you're in an incredibly condusive environment for learning the finishing school caliber courtesies mentioned above.
Great dance floor manners aren't born in a day, but anyone will appreciate your efforts in that area with a smile.