What’s the Etiquette for Modern Jive Dancing?

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Looking for a social activity that’s fun, that builds your confidence, and that will give you head-turning dance skills? Look no further than Modern Jive.

You don’t need to bring a partner to go to lessons or jive events. You can master very cool-looking dance moves in a relatively short time. Modern jive turns heads at weddings and almost any social event and you can dance it to any 4/4 beat music.

Most importantly modern jive dancing is an excellent way to meet people, and, smart guys know it’s a great way to meet girls in a relaxed environment with a shared passion.

Modern jive is partner dancing, and as with most things, knowing the dance etiquette will help you always get the best from your dance experience. Keep these top tips in mind and, girl or guy, you will have people lining up to dance with you.

1. Ask someone to dance

There’s no standing on ceremony at modern jive. If you want a dance just ask for one. Yes, that includes you ladies! No need to wait to be asked by the guys, you can ask them too.

If you are new, nervous or terribly shy few things will do more for your dancing, your overall confidence and your sense of accomplishment than asking others to dance with you. So simply make eye contact, extend your hand and say “Would you care to dance?” Guys love to be asked to dance and unless they’re taking a breather after a previous dance they will generally say yes.

Guys, unlike in clubs where the chances of rejection when you ask for a dance are fairly high, at a modern jive evening or event it’s rare for that to happen. As long as you’re polite and respectful you’re pretty much guaranteed a “yes, I’d love to dance ” in response, so don’t be shy ask away even if you’re a beginner.

2. Say yes when you’re asked for a dance

It’s assumed when you come to modern jive that you have come out to dance. It takes very little time to get to know people so when asked for a dance, whether you’re a beginner or pro, the general rule is to accept. Of course, if you’re resting or there’s another good reason to refuse a dance it’s perfectly okay to say no or suggest the next dance.

Tip: Refusing a dance because the person isn’t the greatest dancer in the room isn’t a good reason to refuse a dance. In fact, if you only dance with the cool or great dancers people will think you’re a dance snob – and this may actually reduce how often you get to dance. Even the great dancers need to rest.

3. Make eye contact and smile

Some people need time to feel fully comfortable with making eye contact. However, dancing is like a conversation so look at your partner (not into the distance or at whatever else is happening on the dance floor).

Avoid staring your partner down (it can feel aggressive) try looking at a point between their eyes or the bottom of their ear lobe or their shoulder from time to time. Along with a smile this tells your partner you’re enjoying dancing with them.

4. Focus on your partner and dancing together

Leave thoughts of your work, or what’s for dinner or how someone else happens to be dancing for later. Your partner will quickly feel if your mind is elsewhere, so leave any baggage off the dance floor and focus on making the dance fun for your partner. Dancing is an enjoyable way to forget your stresses and worries if only for a couple of hours. It’s no fun dancing with someone who’s distant. Besides, if you’re not paying attention you could miss importance cues. So be sure to look at your partner, smile, talk and enjoy the music and dance.

5. Respect and encourage your partner

Learning to dance is a brave step towards a new future for many of us. You could be dancing with the next social star. Everyone who comes to modern jive is looking to learn a new skill and have fun. If you’re helping someone progress, always encourage them rather than criticise. Compliment them when they do something well, perhaps offer a tip or two. You will do wonders for their confidence. If you have genuine criticisms always speak with a teacher first and ask how to encourage improvement in certain areas.

6. Hmm… What’s that food smell you’re wearing?

“You smell of garlic and bacon” isn’t really what you want to hear from your dance partner, and breathing pungent fumes over them will do little to endear you as a dancer. Avoid spicy foods before dancing and always carry breath mints with you to be doubly sure you have fresh pleasant breath. Shower before you head out to class – it takes just a little exertion to remind you of the long day you’ve had at work – and always bring some deodorant with you just in case.

7. Men lead

In partner dancing men generally lead. If a mistake is made it’s almost always down to the men. So ladies, simply feel free to relax into the moves and don’t try to direct the dancing. Be alert, watch for cues, enjoy, and help him look good!

8. Remove all lethal weapons

Ladies – long hair, rings and sharp nails can become pretty lethal weapons when you’re dancing modern jive so guys will be most appreciative if you help them by tying back long hair, removing rings (particularly those with large stones) and dangling earrings and by keeping your nails short. Men – keep those mobile phones off the belts and holsters, because they can interfere with moves.

9. Smile and have fun!

You may be new, shy or plain scared to get out on the dance floor – just do it and have fun with it. Every dancer was a beginner once. You will find a modern jive session welcoming and inclusive, so jumping in and dancing is the fastest way to get good at it.

Modern Jive is a fun way to build your confidence and the more you do it the more people will want to dance with you.

Don’t be surprised if your dance card and social diary are full in a matter of months.

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