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  • Tiffany Sine

Stress-Free Guide to Attending Your First Social Dance

Updated: Feb 20

New to swing dancing? Not sure if you are ready to go out social dancing?


Truth bomb: The sooner you can get out on the social floor the better. Yes, even if you are a beginner!


Social dances are a great place to apply all the cool things you learn in your weekly classes. Plus - you'll meet all sorts of supportive people who want to dance with you and welcome you into the larger dance community.


If you haven't been to a social dance night before you might feel nervous about attending your first one.


Would you feel more comfortable going if you knew what to expect?


We’ve got you - read on for a stress-free guide to attending your first social dance!

Lindy Hop Revolution Monthly Social Dance

(Note: This post is about attending social swing dance events in a studio or dance venue - for example the LHR Monthly Social Dance or Saturday Night Swing. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on the etiquette of dancing in bars/restaurants!)


I’m worried I’ll feel out of place because I don’t know anyone there.


Ever want to go to an event but all your friends are busy?


Feel bummed and end up staying home?


The best part of swing dancing is you don’t need to come with a crew. In fact, the majority of people show up solo! Tip - If you are coming solo attend the drop-in lesson. After the lesson, you will know dozens of people!

Drop-In Beginner Lesson at Lindy Hop Revolution. Photo by Alex Rodionov.

I’m still a beginner, I don’t feel like I’m good enough to go social dancing yet.


If you know the basic step you know enough to go out dancing.


Don’t know the basic step? Come to the drop-in lesson!


Swing dancers are a welcoming bunch and dancers of all skill levels dance together. Dance the moves that you know. Even if you only know 3 moves you can still have a ton of fun. Social dancing is one of the best ways to improve your skills!

Social Dancing at Lindy Hop Revolution Monthly Party. Photo by Alex Rodionov.

What is a drop-in lesson?


Many social dances will have a drop-in beginner lesson before the dance starts. “Drop-in” means you don’t need to register in advance for the lesson. You just show up at the door.


No partner or experience is necessary.


If you’re bringing a friend and this is their first time dancing - the lesson will show them the ropes!


The lesson will include a breakdown of the basic step and a few simple moves. During the lesson you’ll try out a move with a partner a few times. Then you’ll rotate partners and try again with a new partner! If you’ve already taken some swing classes the lesson will be a great review.

Drop-In Lesson at Saturday Night Swing. Photo by Tiffany Sine.

What should I wear?


If you are taking regular weekly swing classes you already know dancers are a casual bunch. For socials, casual still goes but you’ll notice a few more people will dress up - especially if there is a live band.


If you are going to wear jeans and a t-shirt you might choose your nicest jeans and a t-shirt. You’ll see dresses, skirts, polo shirts, dress pants, and maybe some bow ties and suspenders.


If you have been waiting for a chance to dress up - this is a perfect time!


If you would rather stick with casual clothing - you’ll still fit right in.


Whatever you wear - make sure you are comfortable. Bring a pair of clean indoor shoes to wear on the dance floor - something with a smooth, low-tread sole, and you are good to go. Keds, Vans, Toms, ballet flats, oxfords, leather dress shoes - you likely already own something that will do the job.

Flat, comfortable shoes for dancing. Photo by Alex Rodionov.

Where do I put my stuff?


Some events will have a coat/bag check. At Lindy Hop Revolution there is a shared coat rack by the door.


Change into your indoor shoes when you arrive.


Tuck your bag along the side of the room or under a chair or table.


If you are not sure where to put your stuff ask the organizer or front desk.

Hang your coat at Saturday Night Swing. Photo by Tiffany Sine.

How Do I Ask Someone To Dance?


Anyone can ask anyone to dance at a swing dance.


Your skill level, gender, age, and whether you know the person or not doesn’t matter!


At the start of a song approach someone, make eye contact, smile and ask, “Would you like to dance?”


Asking someone to dance does not mean you are romantically interested in them.


Challenge yourself to be friendly and ask a few people to dance - don’t wait around for someone else to ask you! You’ll find almost everyone is game to dance with you!

Some people lead and follow! Photo by Alex Rodionov.

How Do I Decline A Dance?


If someone asks you to dance and you don’t want to dance with them you can say, “No thank you.”


You can decline a dance for any reason. You don’t have to tell the person why if you don’t want to.


If you ask someone to dance and they decline, don’t take it personally. Just go and ask someone else to dance! Everyone has the right to decline a dance without being questioned.


What Do I Do at the End of a Dance?


Thank your partner for the dance! Clap for the band (if there is a live band). Then look for your next partner or move to the side of the floor.


Typically you will dance every song with a different partner.


However, if you came with a friend or someone special and want to dance together a lot you are free to do so.


How Do I Stay Fresh When Dancing Song after Song?


Dancing song after song all night means you are going to get a bit sweaty or not be as fresh as when you arrived.


It is polite to bring a few changes of shirts and to change into a “fresh” one as needed. Some dancers even bring a small towel to dry off between songs.


Here are a few more tips:

- Bring mints/gum

- Bring a water bottle to stay hydrated

- Wear deodorant/antiperspirant, and reapply if necessary

- Avoid perfume/cologne as many people are sensitive to scents


Be the best partner you can be!


What is Floorcraft?


Floorcraft is a fancy dance word that means “Don’t bump into other people on the dance floor.”


Not bumping into people is the responsibility of both partners.


Things to watch out for:


Rock Steps - Be aware of how close people are behind you so you don’t step on them when you rock step back. Especially if you are wearing heels!


Travelling Moves - When dancing swing outs, send-outs, and large moves that cover more floor space, ALWAYS check that no one is in your path. If the floor is particularly crowded choose to dance smaller moves.


Charleston Kicks - It’s fun to get wild and dance with big Charleston kicks. But watch out that you don’t kick your neighbours!


If you do make contact with someone it is proper etiquette to make eye contact and apologize. If they are hurt (this is uncommon but can happen) stop your dance and offer to get them some assistance (ice, a chair, etc).

Be mindful of floorcraft when you dance with big Charleston kicks! Photo by Alex Rodionov.

No-Nos for the Social Dance Floor


No Teaching or Giving Feedback


The social floor is not a place to teach someone a move.


Do not correct your partner or tell them how they can improve their dancing.


The only appropriate feedback to give to your dance partner is if they are causing you discomfort (Ex: Squeezing your hand too hard, dancing too close for your preference). If this is the case, politely let them know so they can make a change.


No Aerials


Flips, lifts, jumps, and other aerials are a beloved part of swing dance culture. But they are NOT ALLOWED on the social dance floor.


This is for everyone’s safety. The only exceptions are if there is a jam circle or choreographed performance.


Do not attempt an aerial if you haven't had the proper training and a lot of practice with your training partner. These are not social moves.

Lindy Hop Revolution Performance Troupe performing an aerial.

Make Some Friends!


Everyone at the social dance, including you, is into this super cool hobby - even if it’s your first social dance ever.


Introduce yourself to someone new and ask them some questions. Find out how they stumbled upon this world of swing dancing. Ask them about what they do during the day. Swap stories about your cats, or your travels.


Your side-of-the-dance-floor chats can be just as fun at the dancing itself!


Ready to go out social dancing?


Click >>here<< to get tickets to the next LHR Party Time Monthly Social Dance


Click >>here<< for details on Saturday Night Swing - Run by Swing Toronto every Saturday Night at Dovercourt House in Toronto. They also have a great page on >>Dance Etiquette<<!


Drop us a heart below if you found this post helpful! Or let us know what other questions you have about your first social dance in the comments!

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