Etiquette and Tips

  • Beginners will do better with an experienced dancer a partner for the first few dances.
  • In social dancing it is customary to change partners after each dance. This helps to give everyone a chance to dance.
  • It’s okay for women to ask men to dance or for two people of the same gender to dance together.
  • When you’ve found a partner, always join in the set at the bottom.
  • Listen carefully and quietly to the caller’s instructions, even if you already know the dance.
  • Ask questions before the dance begins if there’s something you don’t understand.
  • Smile at your partner, corner, or neighbor and look him/her in the eye when you do a figure together.
  • Remember, you are dancing with everyone in the set, not just your partner.
  • Never grab, push, or pull other dancers in the set. Hold out the appropriate hand, use eye contact, or just say a quiet word to help others out.
  • Don’t squeeze hands or arms, but give the appropriate weight (light tension) when doing a turn or similar figure.
  • Listen to the music and watch the experienced dancers to help you begin and end the figures at the appropriate time.
  • Good dancing is not about showing off as an individual, but about being a considerate, supportive, and appreciative part of the set.
  • Everyone makes a mistake now and then. Don’t panic-just smile and try to get to the right spot with your partner for the next figure.
  • Enjoy yourself, bow to your partner when the music stops, and thank him/her for the lovely dance.

Here are of suggestions on things we can do to help our fellow dancers and things we should avoid. 

How To Be Helpful
• First make sure you are doing your part of the dance; if you are in the right place at the right time, it will be a lot easier for someone who is confused to know where to go.
• Use (subtle) hand & head gestures
• Hands reaching out
• Hand pressure (gentle)
• Touching one’s own shoulder to indicate which shoulder to pass
• Eye contact
• Eye direction
• Smiling
• Saying a person’s name (once, without shouting) to get attention
• One-word prompt (e.g., hey)
• Anticipate next move (hand gesture in advance of move – and stop doing it once your partner knows the next move)
• Face in direction of next move
• Good timing – wait for start of the next musical phrase
• Letting go of hands at appropriate moment
• Trust your partner
• Help only the person who you are dancing with at that moment
• Be ok with mistakes (yours and others)

How Not To Be Helpful
• Talking
• Being “helpful” when not needed – don’t over help
• Moving before the call, starting too soon
• Grabbing
• Pushing 
• Frowning
• Not looking at other dancers
• Not letting go of hands
• Thumb pinch pressure

Improve your dancing and enjoy it more.Dancing well is more fun” by Anthony Stone offers clear counsel on the basics of country dancing.

Ways to make the dance more fun

          • Eye Contact – this is a social dance form so looking (and smiling) at the people you are dancing with is a good thing. Keeping your eyes focused on the other dancers will also help you catch cues on where to go or what to do next if you have momentarily forgotten.
          • Giving Weight – on circles and turns, applying tension to improve centrifugal force – in circles this helps keep the circle round, with a partner it helps regulate the speed, helps the appearance of the turn and makes it more fun.
          • Listen – when the teacher is teaching or calling the dance and encourage others in your set to do the same; if you have a question ask the teacher (the whole room will benefit). Some teachers tend to stop calling the dance fairly soon so dancers can enjoy the music while dancing.
          • Helping others – the subtler the help the better. If you help within your sets do so with your mouths closed – use eye contact, smiles, very small gestures (an occasional ‘here’ or ‘left’… during the dance is fine, but please no sentences). Most people don’t like to be pushed, pulled or grabbed so don’t.
          • When in doubt, leave it out – for example if you didn’t quite get through a figure and there is still a two-hand turn to do but the music/dance is on to the next figure, leave out the turn and do the next figure. [You get no extra points for being early but you will spoil things for others if you are late.]