Dance Floor Etiquette

Kindly written for The Beat Magazine

by Bill Larson, Perth WA

Published twice during our 13 years


Hi Guys


I have been writing articles now for many years for different line dancing magazines and most of the time, I try and stay focused on talking about my travels, what I’ve taught, what’s popular in different areas and other subjects that I think most readers would want to hear. Usually I don’t climb up on one of these soapboxes, opting more to observe from a distance, but recently I have become drawn to a point of having to say something on two subjects that I have found to be getting worse over the last two years, at various functions and line dancing events that I have attended around Oz and in NZ. These are two issues I would like to raise for you guys to think over, discuss debate and hopefully remedy because both situations are fixable.


The first is floor manners. By this I MEAN dance floor etiquette, something I grew up with when I started line dancing, but unfortunately, rarely seen these days. Over the last few years I have seen this decline at an alarming rate. To the point of being outright displays of arrogance, ignorance, and downright plain bad manners. Now this may not be the average students fault here, because they may never have had these courtesies explained to them during class sessions by their instructor. It may not necessarily be the instructors fault, because if they are “new school”, who have come through the ranks quickly, they may never have had any idea that these protocols exist for the complete safety and enjoyment of all dancers in all levels. I talk about new school because most instructors who have been in the industry 10yrs plus already know and practice these basics.


It distresses me to see that we have lost these basic’s of common sense, courtesy and good manners on the dancefloor.


In my early years of line dancing, class instructors actually handed out a pamphlet / flyer on the prescribed floor etiquette to all who attended class, so that they knew that in a dance social, or class situation, just how they could enter and exit the floor with the minimal amount of disruption. Yes, there is a correct way to join the line … I bet some of you are shocked !!    J 


Let me give you a couple of examples of what I’m talking about.


If the dance is in progress, then join the line on the ends, DO NOT weave through existing fellow dancers to get to your favourite spot or beside your mate in the middle. DO NOT bully someone out of the way just because they are dancing where you want to be. If they got there first, so be it !!!   Imagine if you tripped someone in your “tunnel visioned” effort to get to that spot on the floor, and as a result, they fell and broke a wrist or ankle. Or worse still, if you offended them so much or intimidated them to the extent that they turned away from dancing for good.


How many times have you seen on the dancefloor, somebody almost crash into someone else who is STANDING STILL talking with another person on the dance floor while a dance is in progress. Usually because they did not want to dance the current dance but were unwilling to give up their spot, or not stray too far from it in case the next dance was something they liked. I have seen repeated examples of this. While the music is on, dance or leave the area quickly.


Crowd control for dance socials, classes, demo’s comes under the jurisdiction of the DJ/Organiser for the event, split floor arrangements, calling the name of the dance in advance, judging enough time between songs to allow people to enter and exit, and allowing enough room between multiple dances on the floor at the same time so that dancers do not collide. These are just some of the necessary and essential things that should automatically be done to ensure everyone has a great time.


Don’t get me wrong here, the DJ/Organiser can control all these factors, but they can only do so much. You need to listen and be guided quickly to the correct part of the dance floor.


We as dancers and instructors need to take responsibility for our actions and lift our game to ensure we minimise any discord on the floor. To ensure that we all enjoy the social or classes and that these events continue to receive the support.


My second subject concerns instructors only.


I have observed directly and indirectly (by word of mouth, flyers, and written comments through various articles by other contributors in linedance publications both in Oz and overseas) a growing trend of doubling up of events on the same day. What is going on?


These actions of a growing amount of individuals indicate characteristics of selfishness, pigheadedness, arrogance, downright bitchiness and money hungry driven antics. To gatecrash long standing and publicised events by implanting one of their own directly and blatantly on top of another is totally uncalled for. I am stunned by this attitude and thinking. Are we so egotistical as to consider this form of behaviour normal, and the only way to the top ?


Surely it must be realized that this only hurts the industry, something that is in dire need of nurturing at the moment instead of being broadsided by these pathetic juvenile acts. Some of these offenders are experienced instructors that I know of personally, and I, amongst many others, are disappointed by this attitude. Seriously, you guys only look foolish and unfortunately are becoming successful in driving a wedge into the already diminishing ranks of line dancers out there. And if you really think otherwise, then take a step back and have a look. Your students are loyal, and will always be, but that shouldn’t restrict them from socialising at other events.


Hopefully you are mature enough to care about this, sit up and take this on board and initiate some remedial action to start working in with your fellow instructors and creating a more healthier environment for the line dancers to enjoy. Start thinking long term and we will all be able to continue doing what we love so much for many years to come.


There has always been double ups of events in the past but most have been through lack of communication in advertising or were in different states.


Most instructors worked with each other by advertising their annual socials almost 12 months in advance. Instructors living in the same area have worked things out so that they held their monthly dance on a separate Saturday night of the month. If there were more socials than that, then they used Friday nights as well and even Sunday afternoons. Even at the busiest of weekends everybody worked and supported each other and the line dancing students had a ball.


Let’s communicate, get back to basic business principals and ethics. If you want trust and respect as an instructor, then start by giving it.


Enough said, I’m stepping down off my soapbox and putting it away, hopefully for keeps.


Bill Larson