Dance Etiquette & Personal Hygiene

/ by Susan Kellogg, October 2007 / Susan Kellogg has been involved in the dance community for more than 20 years. She is a co-founder of the Albuquerque Swing and Country Dance Club (AS&CDC) with a membership of near 700. She currently resides with her husband Gary in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Several complaints/comments have been made to us about dance floor etiquette and personal hygiene. Here is a collection of some of these comments and suggestions (some humorous?) on how we can make dancing more pleasant for us all.

A. Personal Hygiene

  1. Body odor (#1 worst offender!). This sounds rank… and it is. Suggested remedies: Shower if possible beforehand. Wear a CLEAN shirt. If you sweat heavily, bring an extra shirt or wear a cotton T-shirt (V-neck) under your shirt. Sounds like this would make you sweat more but actually does the opposite. It absorbs perspiration, plus has the added benefit of cooling you! Use a generous amount of deodorant. Go easy on perfumes/colognes — use after bathing NOT instead of!
  2. Halitosis (bad breath). Brush teeth/tongue; floss; use mouth wash; gum helps – but don’t look like you’re enjoying it too much. Breath mints are good but only last for about 1/2 hour. Try not to eat garlic, onions and spicy foods before dancing (if you do, chewing on some parsley afterwards helps). Avoid gassy foods (unless you plan on doing a lot of progressive dancing!). No snuff. Drink plenty of fluids. Exercising (dancing) can cause you to become dehydrated thus causing dry mouth which causes bad breath (so can dancing with your mouth open – it looks bad too!). Try using a waterpick to flush out bacteria that builds up between the teeth and gums; it has been helpful to many in removing the cause of breath odor. If this doesn’t help, see your dentist.
  3. No toothpicks, cigarettes, food, or drinks on the dance floor for obvious reasons.
  4. Rough and scaly hands (can be hard to control with our dry climate). Remedies: Use hand creams specially formulated for rough, dry hands. Wear gloves to protect hands while working. Note: Keep hands away from eyes/nose (bring tissue) and wash hands frequently, especially during cold/flu season.

B. Attire:

  1. No bulky wallets. It looks tacky. No dangling keys–they can hurt someone. dance advice by Susan Kellogg about dance floor etiquette 2. Remove watches — can get caught in the ladies hair. Also avoid rings and belts with sharp or pointed edges. Hoop or dangling earrings can also catch and be dangerous. Less is always better when it comes to jewelry.
  2. Clothing: Tank tops for men (and some women?) are out. Nobody wants to look at sweaty hairy armpits. Don’t wear blouses/shirts with raglan (bulky) sleeves. The extra fabric can catch on jewelry, fingers, and make some dance moves difficult to do. Avoid blouses/shirts with “looped” fringe for the same reasons. C. Dance Etiquette:
  3. Try to introduce yourself to and dance with one “new face” (preferably more at club dances!) or someone you haven’t danced with for awhile, at every organized dance function; at social dance practices and at special dance parties. Introduce that new member to someone else when you’re done. This should help newcomers feel welcome and less intimidated.
  4. Never say “no” when asked to dance and then get up and dance with someone else. This is rude! Please give a reason: I’m resting, visiting, take a rain check, etc. Sometimes a “no thank you” is in order if rules Al-A4 above aren’t followed, the person is drunk, etc. On the other hand, if you’re turned down, gracefully take “no” for an answer.
  5. When dancing with someone, be attentive to that partner for those three minutes. Looking around at other dancers may make your partner feel like you’d really rather be dancing with someone else and can’t wait for the song to be over. On the other hand, some eye contact is good – but, unless you’re in a romantic relationship, staring too intently into your partner’s eyes can make him/her feel very uncomfortable.
  6. Please practice dance floor courtesy as well as dance floor etiquette. Always apologize (a smile helps too) whenever you bump into someone on the dance floor, even if it was not your fault. It helps build dancers’ reputations as “friendly and courteous”.
  7. Want to be asked to dance again? Don’t criticize your dance partner on the dance floor. Don’t say things like “you aren’t leading”, “you can’t follow” or worse, “you need to take dance lessons!” This is social dance time…leaders lead/followers follow. Unless you’re asked, leave the critiquing to the dance instructor during class time. Try to dance at your partner’s level and not above it if you want to look good on the dance floor.
  8. When the song is finished, please escort your partner off the dance floor before asking another to dance. Also, it is rude to run onto the dance floor to interrupt another couple to ask one of them to dance. They many not be finished. Please wait until the gentleman has escorted his partner off the dance floor before asking.
  9. Experienced dancers: Take the time to dance and give your support to the less experienced dancers. Remember how you felt–even inspired, when someone better than you asked you to dance? Get to know them as a person, not by how good a dancer they are. It could be the start of a new friendship. Beginning dancers: Don’t be shy. Feel free to introduce yourself as a new member and don’t be afraid of asking someone you don’t know well to dance. That’s what we’re all there for. PLEASE don’t be intimidated by the good dancers but rather be INSPIRED!
  10. Spread the wealth. It is perfectly fine to dance just ONE dance with the person you are dancing with unless you are on a date or have specific moves you are working on. In well-attended dance events, there may be many dancers looking for a chance to get on the dance floor. You can politely end the dance by just smiling and saying “thank you for dancing with me” and then motion to walk off the floor. The other dancers waiting for partners will truly appreciate having more opportunities to dance with you!
  11. When on the dance floor, always dance stationary dances to the center of the floor and progressive dances to outside. Country & Western Dancing allows us to do a variety of dances to one song (WCS, Cha Cha, 2-Step); all the more reason dance floor etiquette is a must. Keep flailing arms/legs contained on a crowded floor. Keep in mind that untrained dancers and novices do not know these rules so be easy on them. You can’t change their behavior. You can only change your own. Remember the golden rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” so we all can have an enjoyable dancing experience
  12. Dance clubs often have agreements with nightclubs or dance establishments and are able to offer a great place to dance, socialize and even feed dancers for free. Try not to jeopardize these wonderful club benefits. Smile and be friendly to the staff at the check-in desk, waitresses, bartenders and especially the DJ. Be sure to thank your DJ when he plays a request (bribes help, bring goodies, etc.). Pay your way…be sure to always order a drink/soda and NOT just water alone and always be sure to tip (waitresses are dependent on tips for wages so please place drink orders from them whenever possible). Never bring outside food or drink into a dance establishment unless it is clearly authorized. The money you spend at bars and nightclubs keep them operating. Where else can you go for so cheap and have so much fun! Hopefully all of these things are obvious to most of us. But, as they say, if the shoe fits… Please let me know if you have comments or anything to add to this article. Happy Dancing! Susan Kellogg and Mike Haley Susan Kellogg has been involved with dance in Albuquerque for 20+ years; she is proficient in most dances including swing, country, latin and ballroom. Susan currently assists Mike Haley, retired UCWDC Master level Pro, (pictured) teaching West Coast Swing, Cha Cha, Night Club, Hustle, CW 2-Step and other popular social dances and was a member of Mike’s competitive dance team for 10 years. She teaches primarily in group settings, where she especially enjoys helping beginners to achieve confidence quickly. She and her husband instruct the CW dance course offered through the local Continuing Education program; it is one of the University’s most popular classes offered. Susan has received numerous dance awards over the years – her most treasured was the Denver Colorado Classic “Choice Award” which is given annually to an out-of-state dancer whose commitment to dance, sharing of their talent, time and knowledge is felt throughout the dance community. She’s also on the volunteer staff for promotions for the NM Dance Fiesta, New Mexico’s largest dance convention held the last weekend in September, and “Dance Because You Can” – a workshop weekend held in the spring to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis. Susan was a co-founder for Albuquerque’s largest and oldest dance club, the Albuquerque Swing and Country Dance Club (AS&CDC). She has served on the board since the club’s inception in 1994; now in it’s 14th year, the club boasts nearly 700 members. Besides publishing the AS&CDC newsletter, Susan publishes “Local DanceNews and Beyond” – a bi-monthly e-newsletter that posts many types of dance-related activities in New Mexico.

The AS&CDC website is located at where you can browse information on current dance events or take a look at photos of local Albuquerque dancers. To contact Susan or to receive a copy of her e-newsletter, e-mail: (Note: It is illegal to reproduce this article without the expressed written consent from Susan Kellogg & Team)