Texas Twisters!  Dallas/Ft. Worth area Gay/Lesbian Country Western Dance Club!

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Dance Floor Etiquette...

: the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life
Synonyms: amenities, civilities, decorum(s), mores, proprieties, decency, dignity, propriety, seemliness
Related Word:  behavior, conduct, deportment, manners; formalities; convention, form, protocol
Idioms: social graces

Any Questions?

I knew there would be.  The basic idea is that there are a whole buncha people shoehorned into a tiny space all tryin' to pretend that they are Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  Dance Floor Etiquette is the set of rules that keep things civilized.   Here's a diagram to help get things started:

Diagram of the dancing areas on a Country Western Dance Floor

OK - here's your multiple choice test: someone bumps you on the dance floor, so you:

a. punch him in the face

b. complain to the manager

c. give him one of those looks as you twirl past like a demented disco ball, with sparkles of light glinting off your three foot high rhinestone tiara and followed by a cloud of feathers from your moth-eaten hot-pink boa, drifting slowly in your wake like the contrail behind a 747

d. smile and apologize

We've all been there: the dance floor is crowded, and it's bump-city, and you start wishing that everyone knew the rules of etiquette on the dance floor as well as you do. And then suddenly your elbow careens off of someone's shoulder, and you are horrified because this one was your own fault! Fortunately, the victim of your carelessness isn't hurt, and she smiles at you, winks, and says "OOPS, sorry!"

Following dance floor etiquette helps everyone to have fun. The rules are simple enough, but it helps if everyone is aware of them. Basically, all you have to do is be courteous and respectful of those around you. For helpful hints from Heloise, read on.

Dance in a counterclockwise direction around the floor. (Do they dance in a clockwise direction in the Southern hemisphere?) Don't back up, but if you have to for some reason, be sure to look behind you first.  Just in case you missed it the first time... DON'T BACK UP!  Try backing up on Central Expressway sometime and see what happens; the same principle applies on the dance floor.

Leaders - look where you are going, and be prepared for the unexpected (like the couple in front of you who didn't look before they backed up.) Leaders are responsible for protecting their partners. (Remember it's always the leader's fault.)  Followers - watch the leader's blind spot and give a gentle tug or pull on the leader's shoulder when the two of you are about to be turned into another couple. (Remember it's always the follower's fault.)

Speaking of fault...never, ever say to your partner "You did that wrong!"  especially if he is a big burly bear in leather nicknamed "Animal."  Dancing is a team event so if one of you messes up, you both mess up.  And if a mistake is made, so what!  The world isn't going to come to an end.  Smile, apologize, keep dancing and lighten up.  The point is to have fun after all!  And remember, that one never makes mistakes, one simply has "creative interpretations!"

Slower dancers, including beginner dancers, should move towards the inside of the dance floor, allowing faster dancers to pass them on the outside. Don't tailgate another couple, but don't dawdle either (and definitely don't stop!). If the floor is crowded and there is a large space between you and the couple in front of you, either move to the inside, or speed up to close the gap. Otherwise everyone will start to back up behind you. Faster dancers should not move faster than they can safely go, just as you would not drive at the speed limit on a congested freeway (or was that you darting across traffic lanes this afternoon?). 

Here's a tip for the complete beginner:  If you've never country danced before, Friday and Saturday night is not the night to try and learn!  Come during the week when it is slow and you've got plenty of room to practice.

Here's a tip for folks who try and disco dance during a country song: Don't!   But if the spirit moves you and you must do it, then get into the absolute CENTER of the dance floor and stay there!  And if your spirit "gets moved" during a line dance, then for your own safety, resist temptation and stay off the dance floor--disco and line dancing simply do not mix.  Both the 651 and the Roundup play a disco set at midnight; wait till then to shake your booty.

Be sure to dance through the corners.  Doing so will expand the amount of usable floor you've got and sometimes when the floor is very crowded, the corners are the only spot where you can safely do turns or twirls.

If you are doing a stationary Swing dance, stick to the middle and leave room on the outside of the dance floor for other dancers. Many would-be shadow-dancers, shufflers, progressive swingers and two-steppers are otherwise unable to navigate the dance floor during these dances. Let them have fun too!

The dance floors at the two local gay C&W clubs, the 651 and the Roundup are small which means that almost without exception there isn't enough room for line dancers and couple dancers to share the floor at the same time.   Generally during a line dance set, the couples dancers take to the floor only if there is a very small group of line dancers in the middle.  If you are going to do a couples dance, wait at least a couple times through the line dance pattern before deciding to take to the floor.  This allows time for late arriving line dancers to make it to the dance floor from the back corners where they were doing some heavy cruising.  Also, some line dances cover quite a distance.  At first it may appear as if there is room for you to dance around the edge but as the line dance progresses, the line dancers may move out to the edge of the floor and the space you thought you had suddenly disappears.  Waiting and watching the pattern through a couple times will allow you to make a better judgment call as to the amount of space you actually have. 

If you bump into someone, smile and apologize. If someone bumps into you, smile and apologize.  If you find yourself apologizing all the time, maybe the problem isn't just "everybody else." If you find yourself smiling all the time, well, good.

If you are not dancing, don't stand on the dance floor. Both the dance floor at the 651 and at the Roundup are small... Please don't make them even smaller by standing around the edge!  Also, don't carry drinks onto the dance floor. Report spills immediately to the staff.  A wet dance floor is a dangerous dance floor.

Finally, there is no excuse for "road rage" on the dance floor. If you see someone breaking the rules, let it go. Maybe he isn't aware of the rules, maybe she's trying her best, but it's unlikely he really is a jerk who simply enjoys getting in your way. We all make mistakes. Getting angry isn't going to solve anything, nor is trying to teach the offender a lesson by being discourteous to him. Smile, and apologize.

Remember, everyone is there to have fun.  So polish the boots, remember the rules and ask somebody to dance.

Special thanks to Ingu and Roy with the Sundance Saloon who let me take the Sundancer's dance floor etiquette tips and modify them for use here on the Twister's site

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Last update: December 12, 2005.