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Elements of Dance Etiquette (2005) (utdallas.edu)
54 points by Tomte 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments





I dance most nights of the week, and one thing that I wish this mentioned (that a lot of dances will tell you in advance now) is "don't wear scented deodorants or perfumes". When you get an entire room full of people with different colognes and perfumes, it makes a lot of people gag. Scentless deodorant or antiperspirant is fine, but beyond that avoid the sprays and lotions.

Tango has a very different etiquette, especially the Argentinian tango danced in saloons in South America and Europe. The invitation, accept and decline is very different being completely non-verbal and it is as easy to accept as to decline; it makes it easy to decline without causing tensions. It took a while to learn to do it well, but it is well worth.

I know that US has different, non-traditional and relaxed rules, but in no way better.


> A cute trend, especially in Lindy Hop circles, is to wear vintage outfits from the 1930's and 40's.

Some scenes in the US apparently went too far with that. When too many new people started coming in in their best vintage outfits, there were a few (current teachers) who made a point of going to competitions as casual as possible.

> In the past it has been the tradition that men asked women to dance. But this custom has gradually changed. Today, women should feel equally comfortable asking a partner for a dance, even in a formal setting.

Also fortunately these days many scenes are closer to "smash the patriarchy" idea and people are happy to dance with whoever. There's no role assignment, which also helps when there's no balance in genders in the room.


It's not as clear to me that this development is fortunate. The customs of social dance have evolved over centuries, and I'm leery of doing away with things simply because we no longer understand them.

I learned to contra dance in a groovy, gender-free group, and I found it frustrating for several reasons.

Contra dance is designed for bodies that fit together, statistically, as men's and women's bodies do, and it was far more often the case that a figure designed for a man and a woman would become physically awkward when attempted with two men.

Many of the figures involved four or eight partners, and it's honestly confusing for beginners when you lack a visual reference point for whom you're supposed to dance with next.

Dance is a pretty mystical thing, and I don't find the question "why should the sex of your dance partner matter?" to be that compelling. It matters because I want to dance with women who want to dance with men. I don't begrudge anyone for setting whatever ground rules suit them, but I wish the STRICTLY GENDERFUL, PROBLEMATIC AND PATRIARCHAL dance groups would advertise themselves a little more loudly.


I'm not familiar with contra, so can't comment on the fitting part. Where I danced in social scenes, if you need a man's/woman's body specifically, (whatever that means...) that would mean you're either doing it wrong or in a really inappropriate way.

> The customs of social dance have evolved over centuries

The fun part is that in many cases they had to evolve first to gendered dancing, and now we're coming back. Which is what people are often not aware of and think it's somehow weird.

> It matters because I want to dance with women who want to dance with men.

And nobody can force you to do otherwise. I think it's a fortunate development that you can do that, or you can dance with everybody. You get more possibilities, not fewer. (And because it reduces the number of people without partners)


> I'm leery of doing away with things simply because we no longer understand them.

Ah, but we do understand them, we just disagree with them. People learn, traditions change, society advances.

It's fine that you may want to dance with women who want to dance with men, but not everybody may have the same preference. Besides, there might be a mismatch between the number of women and men.


I was curious if this was some generalized guideline, but it is in fact only for social dancing. Hip hop has extremely different modes of engagement, for example.

I'm curious. Could you elaborate?

Every dance style has its own culture, though of course many people enjoy dancing more than one style and there is a lot of common ground.

The advice given here would be appropriate for many partner-dancing social styles, such as tango, salsa, ballroom or lindy hop.

Many street dance styles are also social but with a very different dynamic. For example, in some styles you tend to gather around in a circle and everyone is doing simple moves to mark time, then one person or maybe a small group goes into the middle to do something more impressive, then they step out and let someone else take a turn.

Stage dance styles are more about performance than social dancing, so again you have a different kind of etiquette. You might still be dancing with others but usually in predetermined movements rather than improvising, and in this environment you're also working with people like choreographers and the production team for the show.


> For example, in some styles you tend to gather around in a circle and everyone is doing simple moves to mark time, then one person or maybe a small group goes into the middle to do something more impressive, then they step out and let someone else take a turn.

That's also popular in swing/blues scenes. I guess they're all rooted in the same environment in the end so that makes sense.


I'd venture to guess that the specific culture of call-outs and battles in hip hop are different, however.

Yup, similar but not the same :-) Have a look at https://youtu.be/zpeUnWrteQM for solo jazz - the elements are definitely shared.

Man I'm happy Cuban Salsa is not about all of these rules; just be nice, move freely and have fun together! A nice update might also be to just talk about leaders and followers instead of ladies and gentlemen.

If you're interested at all in Swing (or like fun and interesting documentaries), the movie "Alive and Kicking" is a lot of fun. Looking forward to learning some day.

Thanks. Looks like fun. Ordered it.

[flagged]


This comment raises a relevant question for me: where is my downvote button? I have been using HN for a while, but can only see an upvote button? In the past, facing unproductive comments, I have taken out the time to write up why I feel it is unproductive, but I'd also like the ability to help blur it out.

In most species, dancing is about banging. (when they dance of course) Some birds will dance to signal their fitness to a female, right before reproduction. And the rules can be pretty intricate too.

It probably is less of a signal in humans, though. But I can't say I haven't successfully mated a few times via dancing.


It's as much about banging as programming is: safe occupation, above average income, signalling good provider. Or any sport. Or any other activity if we start describing them that way. But if you join a social dance scene with that perspective, you're likely to just annoy lots of people. On average, they're not there for banging and have their own existing relationships. A cigar is sometimes just a cigar :-)

Sure. I aggree.

You need more karma for that.

500 to be specific.



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