Let’s face it...we’ve all encountered awkward situations and odd questions within the ballroom dance setting. It can be difficult to determine where to ask, what to ask, and who to ask—that’s why we’re putting everything on the table and talking topics people commonly wonder about, but rarely talk about. Afterall, we’re all human, aren’t we? 😀

Dancing with Strangers


When social dancing, or dancing with someone new in class, it’s important to establish common ground and communication. We’re all from different backgrounds, and our understanding of dance and general social cues are not the same. 

Dance Position 

Closed dance position is a common feature of Smooth and Ballroom styles. For dancers a little farther along in their journeys, those in the Silver or Gold levels, dance holds become quite close. This allows for non-verbal leading and following, and is fairly essential at an advanced level of moving, but not in a social dance or group class setting. Taking a position that your partner is not comfortable with, or familiar with, can put a damper on their experience.

When dancing with someone new, ask, “Are you more comfortable dancing in a Bronze dance position (closed, but not close) or a Silver dance position (closed and close)?” Using a beginner dance position, when you are a higher level dancer, will not hurt your practice. In fact, even professional dancers occasionally use a Bronze hold, as mastering basics are fundamental to growth.

Dance Level

Ever danced with someone who attempts to dance figures with you that you’ve never learned? You’re sweating, confused, and questioning, “wait, is this even Cha Cha?!” We’ve been there, and while a little challenge is good for us, this can be no fun 🙁 Don’t feel ashamed to ask, “I usually dance in Bronze, do you mind if we stick with those figures today?” 

Moving On

Sometimes you’re ready to switch partners—and that’s okay! Excuse yourself to get a glass of water, use the restroom, or let them know you’d like to take a breather (dance is tiring!) Thank them for the dances, and you’re off.

Dancing Closely with Others

While ballroom dancing, you’re bound to get close to your partner or instructor. Here are a few tips to enhance your confidence when dancing in such close proximities to others.  

Say No to Stink

It's natural...humans sweat and smell. Take proper precautions:

  • Shower before dancing, especially if you’ve exercised or moved a lot during the day. Freshen up with baby wipes if you don’t have time or shower access.
  • Deodorant is key— we suggest keeping one in your dance bag.
  • Dance in clean clothes. We all have that favorite pair of dance pants, but ensure they’re kept smell nice!
  • Bad breath can kill the vibe—brush your teeth, use breath mints, or pop a piece of gum in prior to dancing.
  • Steer clear of heavy fragrance. A spritz is okay, but excess cologne or perfume can be overpowering for your partner.

Say No to a Marylin Monroe 

Marylin Monroe did it fabulously, but proper undergarments can save yourself from an embarrassing moment or two 😀.  You may not twirl a lot in daily life, so wearing shorts underneath skirts and dresses can be new to you. Looking for a pair? Try these.

Potential Dance Discomforts

Ending a Student/Instructor Relationship

Transparency wins when it comes to managing a student/instructor relationship. Not every duo will be the right match, and while it can be difficult to end a partnership, it’s common. If you rarely leave lessons or classes wishing to come back, there is likely an option which better suits your needs. Both students and instructors should have a clear understanding of visions and goals. If these do not align, or you feel you’re not setting clear milestones, it may be best to continue your dance journey with another person. It won’t be easy, but with communication, honesty, and kindness, this process shouldn’t involve conflict. 

Managing Performance Anxiety

We all get it. When entering a dance lesson, a social dance party, or a competition, remember that these jittery feelings can stem from how much you care. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Give Meditation a Go
    • A proven method for relaxation and calming the nervous system—throw on your headphones while warming up and give this ten minute meditation podcast a listen.
  • Talk it Out
      • While it may feel uncomfortable to broach the subject of anxiety or jitters with an instructor or friend, it is likely that they have experienced similar feelings. It can be helpful and healing to share experiences and relate to someone. Learn more on performance anxiety here.
  • Practice Makes Progress
    • The more you explore different avenues of dance, such as social dances or competitions, the easier it will get to tackle new things. Want to get better at practicing? We've got more tips here!

Remember that you are not alone in your dance journey. Have an unanswered dance question or unspoken about dance topic? Let's chat—submit to info@dancevision.com.

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