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Erin's Etiquette Corner - #2 The Joy is in the Journey: How to Enter and Exit the Dance FloorErin's Etiquette Corner - #2 The Joy is in the Journey: How to Enter and Exit the Dance Floor
The Joy is in the Journey: How to Enter and Exit the Dance Floor
This topic seems extremely straightforward. What more could there be to getting on and off the dance floor than walking out there and starting to dance? So glad you inquired.
First, there's the matter of your partner. One needs to make sure both people make it safely to the dance's starting point. Usually the leader, whether or not it was the leader who asked for the dance, takes the follower by the hand (or elbow) and leads her to the entrance to the dance floor. If the width of the passage to the dance floor is narrow, partners may walk single file to the floor's periphery. Take care not to get separated from your partner.
Once the edge of the dance floor is reached, the leader should survey the floor for a suitable starting place. If it's a traveling dance, be sure to look left (opposite line of dance) to judge traffic and how you can get into the flow without blocking another couple or causing a collision.
If you are a leader about to dance a spot or slot dance, take your partner in hand and carefully walk to a space on the floor that is not already occupied. Try your best not to disturb couples already dancing, or choose a place too close to another couple or to the edges of the floor.
Often times there are dances that are suitable for both traveling dances and spot dances (i.e. Foxtrot and Lindy hop). If you and your partner are dancing the spot dance, you'll need to "Frogger" your way across the outside/moving dance track to the center of the floor, where spot dances are allowed. If you are dancing the traveling dance, begin in a way you'll be able to merge in with traffic, and don't cut through the center of the floor during the dance, as this space is reserved for spot dancers.
A great place to begin a traveling dance is in a corner. There's good visibility, the opportunity to get set up without being in the lane of traffic, and it's easy to merge into the flow just like a car on the freeway ramp. Speaking of freeways, the line of dance is somewhat opposite to what you find on the open road. When you're in your car (in the US, at least), the "fast lane" is the furthest left. Well, on the dance floor, it's the furthest right. If you and your partner are advanced dancers who tend to dance BIG and/or pass your feet, stick to the very furthest outside lane of the floor. If you're dancing basic bronze steps, you'll be covering less ground, and should therefore stay in the center-most lane (though not so close to the spot-dancers that they feel like you're buzzing them).
When the song is over, the partners should thank one another. If there was something particular you enjoyed about the dance, say so, but don't get involved in a long conversation. The next song will soon be beginning and your partner may want to dance it. He or she may have promised the next dance to another partner, or may wish to ask someone for a dance, and so might you.
Side-note: If you want to dance the very next song with your current partner, you have a tricky trail to navigate. Remember that it's not appropriate to monopolize a partner, so if you've already danced with him or her, don't ask again right now. Standard asking/accepting rules apply if you do decide to ask for the next dance (see Erin's Etiquette Corner ##1: Shall we Dance?).
Don't stand on the dance floor talking. Begin to move toward the floor's exit. BUT, mind your manners. The leader should walk with the follower back to where the follower was stationed before the dance. Partners should never walk away from one another on the dance floor. On the list of breaches in etiquette, this faux-pas is near the top of the list. A person abandoned on the dance floor can feel very disposed of. I realize I just told you not to dilly-dally around and that you needed to run grab your next partner, but it has to be politeness before convenience here in order for everyone to have the most pleasant social dance experience. Returning your partner to their place in the room is a lot like when you change your mind about those frozen carrots at the grocery store - sure you could ditch them in the dog food aisle, but it's just not right. Bring them back to the freezer.
Happy (and safe) dancing!