Swing Etiquette


We find in our experiences, that a big part of what we love so much about swing dancing is that it carries with it some of the class and romance of the original dance era of the 1930's and 1940's. Having said that, we try to instill a few key points of dance etiquette in all the people with whom we come in contact. Some of these points are direct holdovers from the way people acted then, some of them are just common sense for a close, social dance...in any case, here are a few salient points on the subject of SWING ETIQUETTE!


First and foremost, if you want to dance, stand near the dance floor in "The Flow." "The Flow"? What's "The Flow," you ask? "The Flow" is where all the are dancers walking off the dance floor at the end of a dance and on the dance floor at the beginning of a dance. Once you find out where that is, put yourself right on the edge of the dance floor in that flow to nab a partner! (No one is going to walk all the way to the back of the room or find you sitting at the bar, etc.; They are looking for people ready to dance.)

If someone asks you to dance, say "Yes!" (and why not, "Yes, I'd love to," or "Yes, thank you for asking me!"). Regardless of what "level" of dancer they are. It could be the best dance of your life...it could be the best dance of their life. Either way, it is more dancing and all fun.

Social Dance with as many people as possible. It's the 21st Century, anyone can ask anyone to dance. So get as many dances as you can; you'll have more fun and, if you are still learning (aren't we all?), you'll find you learn so much by dancing with lots of people. In America and Japan, one dance is the norm; if you had a great dance it's okay to ask for another. But then, move on. You can come and find that person later for another dance or two. In Europe, two dances is the norm! So pace yourself. If you walk away after one dance, the person will think you hated dancing with them... or you're just plain rude. Oops. Don't want that!

Ask people to dance graciously. "Would you like to dance?" "Care to dance?" "May I have this dance?" Leads, offer your arm and lead the follow onto the floor. Protect them while you dance. Take care of them. Then thank them for the dance (maybe have another one!) and then escort them off the floor as graciously as you led them onto it.

Do not correct or teach your partner on the dancefloor Remember, everyone at the dance is there ot have fun. Do not correct or teach your partner during a dance; this is very hurtful and demeaning to your partner. The exception is if your partner asks you for advice, and then only give it when you are completely assured they really mean it.

If you must turn someone down, ask for a rain check. This keeps it from being an outright rejection. Then, later in the evening, TAKE THE RAIN CHECK! This let's them know that you don't just use rain checks as a euphemism for rejecting them.

If you are sitting a dance out and have just asked someone for a rain check, please don't dance with someone else on that song. We wish that this went without saying, too, but...just remember how lousy you'd feel if someone turned you down for a dance and thirty seconds later, you saw them dancing with someone else.

Smile. At everyone. Your partner, other dancers around you, the band, the DJ, the bartenders and waitresses, total strangers. Remember, we all love this dance and the more people we can draw into it, the longer it will thrive. (And the more partners we can dance with!)

Applaud live musicians. As dancers, we get so caught up in the dancing or our partners that we forget that sometimes there are actual live musicians providing us with the music! They are an extremely vital part of a good dance. Show them some appreciation!

Support the venue. If it's a small "dancer's club" pay the cover with a smile. Someone is working hard to make it available to you and they deserve your support, financially as well as with your presence. If it is a nightclub or bar, buy lots of whatever it is you drink: cocktails, water, juices, soda, whatever. We all need to support our scene, lest we be dancing in our living rooms shortly!

You don't have to dance with people who make you uncomfortable
If someone just plainly makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, you do NOT have to dance with them. NOTE: If they are being creepy, crossing the line in any way, please contact the event host immediately!

Remember, please NO AERIALS except in jam sessions or competitions! Aerials are those moves where a partner is lifted off the floor...obviously these are not things you want to do in a crowded space, and run the risk of hitting someone

Be nice. If you do happen to bump, kick, or otherwise strike another person, remember to acknowledge it, apologize for it, and give a humble smile and keep dancing. (unless the person requires medical attention)

Bathe regularly! We wish this went without saying, but...

Even if you bathe regularly, use deodorant.

Brush your teeth. Then use mints copiously.

Men...Please wear undershirts! This is a pretty high-energy dance, and sweating is an inevitable part of it...so do your dance partners a favor and keep dry! Women and men...On a related note, avoid sleeveless shirts while dancing, for reasons similar to those given above.

We love you, but stay away if you are sick. We hope this go without saying... please don't go to classes or dances if you think you are coming down with something contageous or if you are sick. Because of the hand-to-hand contact, one cold can spread throughout a local scene like wildfire. Stay home and rest, and we'll all be happy to welcome you back when you are well (Let us know if you need a soup delivery!).

Sneezing or coughing. If a sneeze or cough catches you by surprise when at a dance or class, don't sneeze or cough in your hand or on your arm (again, that physical contact issue). So what to do? Sneeze/cough down to the ground away from everyone, or (as some people do) down your shirt. If you forget, and cover your mouth with your hand, please go wash them with soap and water or hand santizer immediately before dancing with anyone again. We all thank you!

Do everything you can to create a positive atmosphere. Make new-comers feel welcome, treat each other well, dish out dancing compliments to help confidence build... Fun is contagious!