Authentic jazz- and swing-era dancing in the Greater Vancouver area
SWING DANCE ETIQUETTE
The Vancouver Swing Society is dedicated to providing a safe and fun experience for everyone. All attendees are expected to abide by our Code of Conduct at all times. Here are some tips on how you're expected to behave a swing dance, and what to do if you ever feel unsafe one of our events.
How do I ask someone to dance?
Use your words! Just ask: “Would you like to dance?” Avoid just holding out your hand or (worse) taking theirs and leading them to the floor without asking. Try to approach people from the front so they aren’t surprised. If someone is engrossed in a conversation, try not to interrupt, but if you must, say “Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, but would you like to dance?” This tends to leave their conversation partner stranded, so try getting a buddy to ask the other person at the same time.
You are entitled and encouraged to ask anyone to dance, regardless of your respective levels. Remember, though, that anyone is also entitled to decline a dance without explanation.
How do I end a dance?
At the end of a dance, a simple “Thank you for the dance” is enough. If you didn’t introduce yourself at the beginning of the dance, say “My name is ______, what was yours again?” and “Nice to meet you.” You are not obligated to have a full conversation with this person if you don’t want to – you’re here to dance after all! In some places, it is customary to dance two dances in a row. If you’d like to have a second dance, just say “Thanks for the dance. Would you like to dance another?” Unless you’re really clicking with that person, more than two dances in a row will likely be perceived as monopolizing them, so keep it to two.
How do I decline a dance?
You are entitled to decline a dance at any time for any reason or without explanation.
People decline dances for a lot of reasons: they are tired, they aren’t feeling the song, they need a drink of water, they’re really interested in the conversation they’re having, this is their special song with X and they were on their way to ask X to dance, they just declined the previous dance and promised this one to that person. Don’t take it personally. If you decline a dance, say, “No, thank you.” You don't need to give a reason for declining. If you’d like to dance with that person later, say “Maybe later” or “How about the next song?” or “I’ll find you later.” If you don't wat to dance with that person later, don't tell them you do! If you’ve just declined a dance, it is rude to dance with someone else to that song.
Someone at a dance is making me uncomfortable. What should I do?
The Vancouver Swing Society has a very clear Code of Conduct and we take seriously any violations. If you feel up for it, you can address the person who is making you feel uncomfortable directly, or you can find a VSS board member at the event. We will help determine a plan of action, which may include talking to the person in question, filing an incident report, or contacting law enforcement.
How do I avoid bumping into people on the dance floor?
Dance floors get crowded, but it is everyone's responsibility to make the floor safe. Leads should look over their shoulder or in the direction they’re sending their partner to make sure there is space. Follows can tighten their right arm or apply pressure on their leads shoulder if they see an obstacle their lead missed. If you run into, hit, or step on anyone, apologize (regardless of whose perceived fault it is) and make sure everyone is okay before continuing to dance.
Can I do an aerial or a lift on the dance floor?
Almost always, no. Air steps, lifts, and low dips should not be performed with anyone who you don't know and practice with regularly, and should never be executed on the social floor (you may be fine, but the unsupecting couple next to you may not!). The only time these moves should be executed at a social dance is in a jam circle, where everyone else has cleared a space for you to dance. Most small dips (where the follow fully supports their own weight) are okay, but if you are dancing with someone you don't know well or who seems to be fairly new to dancing, best to avoid.