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Success in a social activity requires awareness of accepted norms of behavior. The importance of dance etiquette to the social dancer can hardly be overstated. Etiquette is important everywhere, but especially in dancing, a delicate activity where unpleasantness has no place.

• Never blame your partner for anything that may happen on the dance floor. Not if you want him/her to dance with you again.

• A request for a dance must be accepted under almost all circumstances. If you decline a dance, you yourself cannot dance until the end of that song.

• No unsolicited teaching on the dance floor! There is a good chance this will make your partner feel small and humiliated. Not exactly a great way of encouraging him/her, or others, to dance with you.

• Do not monopolize a partner on the dance floor. Dancers are polite and rarely say no to a dance, but this is no carte blanche to impose on their kindness. Dance with everyone, and let everyone dance.

• On the floor, be considerate of the other couples. Exercise good floorcraft; do not cut other couples off; no aerials or choreographed steps on the dance floor.

What we discussed so far is usually considered the domain of dance etiquette. Anyone who consistently violates the rules of dance etiquette will eventually be shunned in the local dance community, so the first step towards success in dancing is to follow the rules of dance etiquette. Once we have mastered the etiquette, it is time to move beyond it and learn what else can we do to become popular in the dancing circles.

Make Your Partner Happy

The single biggest secret of success in social dancing is to make your partners happy. Once you succeed at this task, your popularity will soar and you will never have a shortage of willing and enthusiastic partners to dance with.

No uncomfortable leads: Cranking your follower's arm to make her turn, pushing and pulling to bring her into position, and other forceful leads will not be appreciated. If she is not doing what you want, then probably your lead was not skillful enough. Unless you know a pattern well, do not execute it on the social dance floor. Keep it for classes and practice time, until you have mastered the pattern, then bring it on the social dance floor.

If the lead is good and the follower is still not following, again the leader is at fault, because he is leading a pattern too difficult for his follower.

No back-leading: When you ask or accept to follow someone in a dance, you implicitly agree to let them lead. While this doesn't mean you have to be a perfect follower, or even a particularly good one, it does mean that you should not try to lead them. It is disrespectful and disturbing to your partner when you steal the lead; you are rejecting their contribution to the partnership.

Protect your partner: For the leader this has two aspects. The first is floorcraft. Anticipate the movement of other dancers, and match your figures to empty spaces on the floor, so that you do not run your partner into other couples. Secondly, if there is imminent danger of collision, pull your partner close and turn, so that you absorb the blow. The follower can also protect her partner by keeping an eye out behind his back. If a couple is approaching from his blind spot, a small pressure on his shoulder or hand can warn him of possible collision.

Entertain your partner: You are there not only to have a good time yourself, but also to entertain your partner. This means, among other things, making him/her comfortable, dancing at a level that is enjoyable for both, and maintaining a good sense of humor if something goes wrong. If you are a perfectionist in your dance studies, leave it behind in social dancing. Own up to mistakes if yours, but do not dwell on them either way. Playfulness and lightheartedness in dancing also goes a long way. Look at your partner and smile (except in dances one is not supposed to). Focus not on yourself, but on your partner.

Make your partner feel appreciated: The most popular dancers are not necessarily the most skillful, but rather the ones who make clear to each partner how much that person's company is appreciated and enjoyed. Most people would rather not dance with someone who acts bored or put upon, no matter how amazing their dancing is.

The annoyance factor: There are many things that may be acceptable in everyday situations, and yet can be very annoying when done at very close proximity, as one has to be while dancing. In particular, avoid humming to the music, counting the steps, or chewing gum while dancing.
It is worthwhile to repeat once more the cardinal rule of social dancing: You are happy when your partner is happy.