Asking someone to dance should be approached with the same politeness and respect as asking someone out on a date. Social dancing does not operate the same way as a club does, so use common sense and you’ll get your dances off to a wonderful start.
1. Be a Gentleman…or a Lady
The most important thing to remember when asking someone to dance is to be polite and courteous. And this goes both ways, no matter who is doing the asking. There are some social dance scenes that are more relaxed than others – for example, the swing dance scene tends to be pretty casual so it doesn’t matter if it is the lead or follow who is doing the asking. The ballroom and latin scenes, however, tend to be a bit more traditional in that the gentlemen do most of the asking but in this day and age, if you want to dance, just ask.
So use your manners – when asking someone to dance, extend your hand and ask a variation of the following
- “Would you like to dance?”
- “May I have this dance?”
Leaders, it is perfectly appropriate to take your follow by the hand after they accept and to lead them out to the dance floor. Again, you don’t have to, but it’s a nice touch that we follows remember. After the dance is over, thank your partner for the dance. It’s very common for the lead to escort their follow back off the dance floor, and whether or not you take up this practice is entirely up to you. As a follow, I’m not going to lie – it’s a really nice touch.
2. Smile and Make Eye Contact When Asking
Once again, think of the behavior you would use off the social dance floor. Smile and be friendly when asking someone to dance. Don’t approach a potential partner looking like you’d rather be anywhere else in the world right now because that will come across. Eye contact is also one way of making sure that the person you’ve asked to dance has heard you across a crowded dance floor, and also establishes a bit of a personal connection – after all, you are going to spend the next three minutes or so dancing together. Leads, no matter what level you’re dancing at, this also projects confidence. As a fellow follow, we want to feel that the person who is leading us out on the dance floor is going to take care of us and watch out for us in the midst of other dancers. So smile, look your potential partner in the eye, extend your hand and ask for the dance.
3. Accept rejection gracefully.
It’s going to happen – you’re going to ask someone to dance and they’re going to say no. It doesn’t matter what their reasons are, just take it in stride. Don’t take dance rejection personally; just say “okay, thank you anyways” and find another person to dance with for the song. Just roll with it and keep dancing. We’ve all been rejected and we’re all still dancing. It’s just part of the social dance scene.
However, if you are refusing a dance because you’re sitting that dance out but you would like to dance with that person again, feel free to say “I’m sitting this one out, but I would love to dance the next song.”
I hope this guide helps everyone out on the dance floor, leader or follower. Have a tip you want to share? Leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you!