8 Cringe-Worthy Habits of Untrained Social Dancers

adult dance lessons in arizonaHow many times have you gone out dancing and been stepped on, kicked, pushed, or simply disregarded on the dance floor? If your answer is even once, that’s one time too many. These days, it can be not only intimidating to go out social dancing, but downright dangerous! In this blog, I’d like to share my opinion of some of the most cringe-worthy behaviors of social dancers, and what you can do to change those habits if you happen to be guilty of them yourself.

As has always been the case, the majority of those who go out dancing, be it in Country bars, Latin dance clubs or even at weddings, are untrained dancers. Let’s face it, the average person does not invest in Private Dance Lessons before they go out dancing, which is why many mishaps occur in the first place. A least they’re going out and having fun, right? Agreed! I give anyone who goes out dancing major props for having the courage to step on to the dance floor without any experience. It’s scary to even ask someone to dance, let alone be expected to know what you’re doing…and it takes a lot of gumption to try something new.

The thing is, when you’re dancing in a social setting like a bar or party, bad habits can develop, mainly from what I call “the blind leading the blind”. Example…A couple tries something they saw one time on YouTube that looks “so cool”. The twosome watching from the sidelines wants to look awesome too, so they copy couple #1. From there we end up with the trickle down effect where everyone is simply mimicking each other, yet no one has a clue how to do the dance move correctly. Following others, especially in partner dancing, without training and practice can lead to trouble, big time!

This is just one instance of a bad behavior gone wrong. Let’s go into some other acts that may cause you to cringe too. Starting with…

Stepping on other people’s feet.

Ouch! Who likes to come home with high heel marks on the top of their feet after a night out Salsa dancing? What about a Cowboy boot landing on your toe? That hurts like no other. Trust me, I speak from experience. Being stepped on is unfortunately a common experience when you’re out social dancing. It can be avoided, though, if you keep a proper dance frame when you are leading or following. If either person’s frame is not in tact, you will inevitably drift too close together, putting those precious toes, and your pedicure, at risk.

You can also avoid stepping on other dancers by keeping your feet underneath your body. Social dances like Country Two Step, Swing, Salsa and Argentine Tango are done most often on a crowded floor, so if your feet are up in the air and not tucked underneath your body, you may end up injuring someone. In Private Country, Latin or Swing dance classes, you will learn helpful tips like these to make social dancing that much more fun!

Not dancing on time with the music.

How frustrating! Your favorite tune comes on. The tempo is obvious and clear, yet he is dancing to the beat of his own drum, so to speak. It is the man’s/leader’s responsibility to listen to the music and keep you as a couple on time, so guys, ask your dance instructor for ways to hear the music. That way you can begin enjoying dancing to the music, and not fighting against it. It really does make quite the difference, especially when you’re dancing with someone who feels the beat.

Yanking instead of leading.

Did you know that leading a lady on the dance floor involves finesse? The lightest of touches can give her just the right cue to get her to go where you want her to be. In a previous blog, I go into the “Less is More” concept behind being a great lead on the dance floor. Check it out. Yanking her arms out of their sockets like you may see often in the local Country bars can not only be unsafe, but it is truly unnecessary (not to mention rude). Think of “inviting” your partner, not “making” her go. It really will make all the difference in her experience, and hopefully get you another dance with her later in the night.

Expecting him to do all the work.

As a woman, this bothers me. Ladies, we are not meant to be limp noodles waiting to be tossed around. We have a role on the dance floor too. That is to maintain a proper frame-even in social dancing-and make sure that we are lead-able. OK, that’s not a word, but you know what I’m saying, right?? Don’t make him work so hard. Partner dancing should be fun and relaxed, not work in the traditional sense. Remember that ballroom dancing (including all partner dancing-Salsa, Swing, Two Step, etc.) is a conversation between two people. One of you can’t be yelling while the other one has her ears plugged. Acting and reacting, non-verbal communication, that’s what it’s all about.  Again, you can learn more about this with one-on-one dance instruction. These concepts are integral to being a self-assured social dancer.

Not asking for a dance, and not saying “thank you” at the end.

Communication. This is what dancing is about, as I said. Please don’t feel that, because you’re a good dancer, you can grab any woman and starting spinning her around. Ask her first, and let her accept before bringing her on to the dance floor. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and just pull someone onto the floor, but it’s much nicer to get her permission first.

Ladies, please thank him for the dance, even if you didn’t have the time of your life. It’s scary to ask someone to dance, and then try to recall the moves you know. The first few times he tries, he may freeze up and blank out. That’s normal, so girls, be kind. You may be his first dance ever. What an honor, rather than a punishment. Your “thank you” will go a long way.

Appearing to be bored by him.

To follow up from my previous point, ladies please do not roll your eyes if he does the same three moves over and over again. Please do not stare off into the crowd like you can’t wait for the song to be done. I can assure you, he’s doing the best he can. If you’d like him to want to improve, look for something to compliment him on. It will mean a lot and most likely motivate him to want to lean more. You never know. You could run into him six months later, and after some dance lessons under his belt, he could come in and sweep you off your feet! How exciting would that be?!

Wearing the wrong shoes.

Looking your cutest does matter, but if you’re planning to cut a rug, put on the proper dance shoes for the occasion. Latin dancing requires a heel with a strap around the ankle so your feet are protected. Country dancers, throw on a pair of boots and you’ll be good to go. Flip flops and sandals do not make for good dancing shoes and can detract from your cuteness in no time flat.

Doing the same dance to every song.

This is different from above, where I wrote on being off time with the music. There are many dancers out there that only know one dance. Country Two Step, for example. Suddenly, every Country song, be it fast, slow or medium tempo, is a Country Two Step. That’s just not the case. If Country dancing is your thing, great! Explore 4-5 main Country dances in your lessons so that you can be prepared for any speed of music that is played.

Same with Latin dancing.  Merengue music and Bachata music are both Latin based, but are very different in terms of feel and speed. Therefore, learning several Latin dances will only be to your benefit when going out social dancing, so all of your bases are covered.

If you’re guilty of any of the above mishaps on the dance floor, it’s OK, you’re not alone! Now that you know better, you can do better, right? Dance lessons will help to iron out a lot of common mistakes, and get you on the right track to becoming an awesome social dancer. So, contact your local dance studio for adults to get started. In the meantime, which one of the above can you improve on? I’d love to know!