Salsa Etiquette – 10 Simple Rules
Like all social activities, Salsa dancing has a set of etiquette do’s and don’ts. Most experienced dancers know the proper etiquette of dance floor behaviour. But it is easy for a new and enthusiastic dancer to inadvertently commit a “faux pas” and unwittingly get put on the “avoid” list before he/she can say “Bailamos!” Following these 10 simple Salsa Etiquette rules will keep you off the “avoid” list and ensure you have a long and happy social dance life.
When asking someone to dance, ensure they are not talking with someone. Interrupting a conversation between two people is never polite. So my first rule of Salsa Etiquette is the same in any social situation – don’t interrupt.
The second of 10 Simple Salsa Etiquette rules is about asking people to dance. Please ASK them to dance. Do not just grab their hand and drag them onto the dance floor. This is a rule for guys and girls alike – gentlemen, be a gentleman and always offer a hand and lead your lady to the dance floor. Ladies, please don’t be shy to ask a guy to dance!
If you have said no to an offer for a dance (for any reason), the polite thing to do is to sit out the song. Do not ask or say yes to someone else. Even if the offer is from someone that you’ve been waiting to dance with all night. If you have turned down an offer to dance, good manners dictate that you must sit out that dance. Politeness in any social situation is always appreciated, so that’s my third Simple Rule for Salsa Etiquette.
Unless you are very good friends with the person you are dancing with, do not “hog” a dancer (especially if they are a popular partner) for more than 2 dances. Even dancers who are known couples should not dance together all night. Salsa dancing is a social activity and part of being an active and friendly member of the community is to change partners every 2 songs or so.
Fresh as a Daisy
I’ll be honest, you probably won’t be fresh as a daisy if you have danced all night. But that does not mean you should be a mess either. If you are especially sweaty (it happens) then be sure to either dry off frequently or change outfits! A good heavy-duty deodorant goes a long way, but strong perfume and cologne do not (some dancers are allergic and strong perfume or cologne is usually a turn-off). ‘Nuff said.
Leaders, this means getting to know your partner (especially if you’re dancing with someone for the first time) and BE GENTLE! Followers, this means keeping styling to a minimum at the beginning of a dance until you know your partner’s skill level and being attentive to your Leader’s technique. All experienced dancers will tell you that every dancer is different and that you must adapt to your Leader’s/Follower’s strengths and weaknesses. Paying attention to your dance partner and their comfort level in turn patterns, embrace, and styling will make for a more enjoyable experience for both of you.
Stick to Your Lane
As much as possible, be conscientious about staying in your dance space. Real estate on a crowded dance floor is a prized possession but should not be fought over. When you find a spot on the dance floor be mindful of the couples around you and adapt your dancing according to how much space there is. If the dance floor is crowded keep your turn patterns small and simple, and styling to a minimum. More dance floor space means more room to breathe and the possibility of practicing your more fancy moves, but always remember that all dancers have a right to be on the same dance floor and therefore should all have equal opportunity and room to dance. Nobody enjoys a shoe heel stab in their foot or an elbow knock on the head – a night of Salsa dancing shouldn’t be a game of bumper cars!
Don’t Be a Lurker
If you are not dancing, steer clear of the dance floor. Do not lurk or linger on the dance floor space as you will probably be taking up precious dance floor real estate. Appropriate places to hang out, socialize, and watch the action is up against the bar or (literally) on the sidelines. If you need to get around the club or studio to get to the coatroom, washroom or exit, skirt the edge of the dance floor, do not cut through the middle. Walking through a dance floor at any other time than at the beginning or end of a song is not cool.
Relax Cowboy, It is Just Dancing
This rule is more for Leaders, but can also apply to Followers. Stick to turn patterns that you know you can execute safely and comfortably. In Salsa dances, this means avoiding lifts, tricks (unless you are an experienced professional dancing with another seasoned professional) and complicated dips. In Bachata and Kizomba dances, this means avoiding deep dips, leg tricks and body movement styling – without proper technique instruction these can end up feeling awkward and uncomfortable, and in the case of dips and tricks, can cause injury.
Relax Cowboy, It is Just Dancing
No, this isn’t a typo. This last rule bears repeating. Remember that everyone on the social dance floor is there to enjoy him/herself in an easy-going atmosphere. Performance and “serious” dancing have a time and place (like on a stage) and it’s not on the social dance floor. Social dancing isn’t a test so you don’t need to execute absolutely everything you know as much and as fast as possible. Breathe, relax, smile, and have fun. Every dance is a journey, so enjoy the ride.
These are my 10 Simple Rules for Salsa Social Etiquettebut you may discover more over time. If you think I missed a few, write to us, the list is always growing. If you want to put these 10 Simple Salsa Social Etiquette rules into practice check out the schedule for our Salsa and Bachata Socials here.
I can’t wait to welcome you to our big family, have you come in every week, have fun, socialize, and let loose to amazing Latin songs. Click here for our current schedule.
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