This is second in what is apparently becoming a series of articles on dancing ... the first one came out in The Voice last fall and was titled, "The Spin Is On The Quick-Quick".
"You Can’t Ask A Woman Her Name If You’ve Been Dancing With Her For 4 Months"
There are rules, and then there are “rules”.
Sports have them. Male/female relationships have them. The workplace has them. They are often referred to as the “unwritten rules”, or something to that effect.
Well, a dance floor has them, too.
It doesn’t matter if it is salsa, hip hop, ballroom, or country, there are rules and there are “rules” one must accommodate. “Rules” come in many forms. Often, they can be thought of as “house rules” specific to one location. It can take a long time to learn all of these rules. Too often, the only real way to learn them is to break them and be surprised by doing something wrong that you didn’t know was wrong. It can all be very confusing.
For instance, there are a couple of different country places I dance at and the “rules” at the two places are very, very different. One place has a huge floor and dancers go very quickly like they are in a NASCAR race. Stopping and doing moves in mid-stride will only get you smacked into, glared at, and told to move to the middle or inside track. Fair enough. The place with the small dance floor generally requires that dancers stop and do moves, even on the outside track, and even though dancers are trying to go with the path of dance they simply have to accept that they need to stop and do something else. These are obvious, simple to follow, and easy to learn rules and “rules”.
However, even if many of the rules and “rules” are obvious and simple, other rules and “rules” are not so simple. Some of these come down to matters of etiquette and tact, others to trial and error. It is easy to brush off a small error, not so simple to brush off a big one.
Fake it. Don’t know the steps? Just go out there and have fun. Know a little bit? Then do what you know. Screw up a step? Fake it and get a move on. You can fake your way out of a lot of things on the dance floor.
Do not bring a drink onto a dance floor. This seems obvious. It may even be posted. But sure enough, there are plenty of morons out there that just don’t get it and do it anyways. These are the same people who use a left turn signal to turn right while talking on their phones. Spillage equals slick or sticky spots that can cause serious problems that the spiller probably won’t be around to have to deal with.
Bring a spare shirt. In a country bar men and women can both wear black tees, jeans, and boots and look equally masculine or feminine without anyone thinking androgyny. But, in many places it can get very hot and sweaty out there. A woman needs to place her left hand on the shoulder of the man and when that shirt is soaked, they simply don’t want to. I bring an extra black tee, and on breaks will often just go and change it out at my vehicle. It is simply nice to do, and keeps the women from thinking that I am a sweaty pig. It would be very easy to develop the reputation for being gross. I don’t want that particular reputation.
Speaking of reputations. Women, it is okay to just say no to a dance request. No stories are necessary. Most guys will get over it in a hurry. Don’t tell a man you are sitting out or something and then accept the next invite 15 seconds later. The guy will see that you are dancing. You will then develop a very unfavorable reputation. I see this, I won’t ask you again. If you just say no because you are waiting to dance with someone else, a polite no is good enough. A big boy can handle it. Men. Spending too much time dancing with the new girl is polite, but it makes you look like a vulture. As a regular, that can go bad in a hurry.
Good dancers need to help the newer and less experienced dancers. It doesn’t mean you have to dance the whole night with a newbie, but there was a time when you did not know the difference between steps. It’s just polite. Besides, there is something really nice about someone asking you to help them, that is when you know that you are doing something right. Or even better yet, to have someone recommend you to help out, that is nice. Even if the person you have been asked to help out clearly has little chance of learning anything and you find yourself wondering how they don’t fall down more it is essential to be nice. Thank them at the end of the dance and move on.
Be careful with eye contact. Eye contact while dancing is nice and can be helpful to take a new partners mind off of the steps so that they just dance. But, it can also lead to the wrong impression. For many people eye contact equals flirting. For others, lack of eye contact means that they are flirting because eye contact gives them away. It goes both ways, there simply is not a rhyme or reason to it, and it must be treated on a case by case basis. I learned that once I was able to look up and talk with the partner it meant that I was doing well. Got me in trouble a few times, but so be it. Would women really rather I stare straight down and enjoy that view from close up instead? I thought not.
The other weird thing is that dancing with regulars creates a unique type of relationship. There are the dancers you only know in the context of dancing. Picture it. A man asks a woman to dance. They dance a couple songs and can move reasonably well together. They politely introduce themselves, but other than dancing, they really don’t get to know each other. Over a period of time, they see each other at the same place regularly. They say hi, maybe make a smidge of small talk, but mostly, they just dance a few songs together each time they see each other. Over a period of months they find that they look forward to the dances, but nothing else happens in the relationship. Then, one of them has a friend come along and during the course of the evening he mentions about how it really looked good when you danced with that one girl. Which girl? The one in the white shirt. Which girl in the white shirt? The brunette in the white shirt. Which brunette in the white shirt? And then it hits you, you don’t remember her name. It has been months, at least four, and at that point it becomes a point of honor and tact. How do you find out her name? It is possibly going to hurt her feelings. You don’t want that, she might stop dancing with you. So, you dance with her again and try and figure out how to find out her name. After the song you want to introduce her to your friend but you know you can’t. It would be awkward or like something in a Seinfeld episode.
You cannot ask a woman her name if you have been dancing with her regularly for several months.
You can’t just fake your way out of that one.
The 2K5 article