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Floorcraft & dance etiquette


American Jive

Wedding Dances

We often get asked about etiquette and floorcraft, especially as people start going further afield for their dancing. Social dancing has an old-fashioned politeness about it - very refreshing these days!

Of course, personal hygiene is paramount, and we won't dwell on the need for deodorant and toothpaste ... I'm also sure we don't need to remind people not to eat spicy food, garlic or onions etc just before coming dancing. A spare shirt and minty mouth spray in the car are always a good bet.

Always try to adapt your dancing to the conditions around you, and show courtesy to your partner and the other dancers on the floor. If the floor is crowded, keep your moves simple and neat - avoid big arm movements, kicks & jumps and large steps that could encroach on other people's space. If your space gets invaded by other people and you can see a space somewhere else on the floor, try a travelling move such as the Jive Walks to get yourselves into the bigger space - but do avoid 'barging through' other dancers. If necessary, wait till the end of the song then walk your partner to the new space if you are keeping the same partner for the next song.

Keep the moves within your partner's capabilities and avoid moves which you know they can't do - it's considered particularly bad form to stop and try to teach your partner a move in the middle of the dancefloor - if necessary, wait till the end of your dance with them and find a quiet corner away from the main floor to go over steps. Better still, wait till the next class. And if your teachers are out socialising at a dance, remember they're off duty and out for fun as well - don't expect them to give up their leisure time to go over moves with you outside of class (but by all means ask them to dance!)

Always say thank you to your partner after the dance, and try to sound as if you mean it! Remember that you were a beginner once as well, and the beginner you've just danced with could one day be the best in the class with people queuing up to dance with them.

During classes, we ask people not to refuse a dance with another class member, but if you're at a social dance you may want to sit out for a few minutes. If you are going to refuse someone but would really like a dance with them later on, let them know that, otherwise they may think you don't want to dance with them at all. And if you have just refused a dance with one person, it's considered very ill-mannered to then dance with someone else during the next couple of songs.

If you're not dancing but want to cross the floor, walk round the outside of the floor rather than through the middle of the dancing - especially if you're carrying drinks, as any spillages will leave a sticky spot that's horrid to dance on. It's also poor etiquette to stand on the dancefloor chatting - there's usually plenty of seating and often a bar area to catch up with friends, leaving the floor less crowded for people that are actually dancing.

Generally, the same social conventions apply to classes and dance events, but there are one or two special points to remember in classes. For instance, if you are in class, please stick to the style of dance that is being taught, even through the open practice time. You may know other dance styles, but the majority of the class will only know the style that's being taught, and will get confused at different moves and styles being danced. The same is true if you go to a ballroom dance event - if everyone else is dancing Quickstep, then don't decide to do a Jive instead!

Finally, enjoy! A happy, smiling dancer is more likely to get asked again.

Jive FAQs

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