Social Dance Etiquette

Social dance etiquette at a swing dance is relatively straight-forward. That is, it does not require much beyond the normal levels of courtesy we offer one another in other social situations. That said, I do recommend this blog post on social dance etiquette by Bobby White. His post also explains some other customs we have at socials such as birthday jams.

Beyond that, I would also consider the following:

Introduce Yourself

You don’t necessarily need to do this at the start of the dance. But do introduce yourself after the song is over and be sure to thank them.

Dance Roles

If someone is new to you, it’s best to make no assumptions about what role(s) someone dances. Generally speaking, unless you are game to dance both roles, it’s best to invite with a role in mind. Examples:

“Care to dance? I’d like to follow you.”

“Would you like to dance? Cool if I lead?”

This is Still a Social Event

So get off your phone! I consider it pretty bad form to be on your phone extensively at a social dance. You wouldn’t go to a party and just sit on your phone the whole time?!? It’s particularly rude if there is live music. You don’t have to dance every song or strike up conversations with the whole room. And sure, pull out your phone for a sec if you need to check something, Ultimately, everyone should have some level of consideration for the overall social dance atmosphere and being on your phone is bad dance mojo.

Do Not Offer Unsolicited Instruction/Solicit Instruction as a Social Dance

The social dance floor is the time to pick up your feet and have fun dancing with another person. Unless someone is or will potentially injure you, the social floor is no time for critique.

That also means it’s not appropriate to ask someone for a social dance with the intention of them “teaching you.” As an instructor, people will sometimes invite me for dances and then say, “can you give me some feedback?” This no longer makes it a social dance but instead an instructional exercise.

Of course, I’m always happy to show Swing It Seattle students anything and everything but not under the guise of it being a social dance. If you want help, just ask! Swing It Seattle socials fall under the umbrella of our “office hours” so we are always happy to assist!


It’s perfectly fine to have a drink at a social dance. In fact, ordering drinks helps keep the venues open that offer dancing. Those that don’t drink usually order something (non-alcohol) and overtip a bit.

What else are we missing here? Add comments below

Mark Kihara2 Comments