Dance Etiquette

Good dance etiquette is important.

Swing Toronto social dances are just that – social – and we are committed to maintaining a friendly, welcoming environment for everyone. Please be mindful of floorcraft, courtesy and etiquette.



Be aware of the space and the people around you. Take caution not to bump into or step on other people and take care of your dance partner as well as yourself. Don’t take a large rock step or move backwards without looking where you are going. Leaders protect y0ur follower from collisions and be aware of where you send her or him. Keep arm and leg movements small when the floor is very crowded. If you do accidentally step on or bump or – yikes! – kick someone, please apologize and make sure they are o.k.

When you’re not dancing, please move to the side of the dance floor to make room for other dancers.

Air steps (aerials) are not safe and appropriate on a social dance floor. They are done in jams and performances by people who have chosen to do them together and know what they are doing.


Perfume free

Please don’t wear perfume, parfum or cologne at a social dance because some people find it bothersome or unsocial, and a few people are made ill by chemical scents.

Appropriate conduct

Don’t be a jerk! It’s funny to say so, but it’s true!

For the record, overwhelmingly the people coming to our events are courteous and among the nicest you will ever meet, but sometimes someone may need to be spoken to, and rarely someone will be banned from our events.

“Sketchy” behaviour is something that we take very seriously. If someone is being a problem in some way, please tell the organizers or the person at the door, and we will address it, or you could tell the person directly. This could be someone who insists on giving you lessons on the dance floor or who keeps “correcting” your dancing for reasons other than safety, or someone who keeps trying to dance closer to you than you are comfortable with (for example, front to front contact and dancing cheek to cheek are not part of swing, blues and waltz dancing unless there is clear and continuing mutual consent and agreement on that), or someone who is rude to you, or someone who does not take “no” for an answer when you decline an invitation to dance with them (the etiquette is that you are 100% free to decline an invite to dance without giving a reason, and without being responded to in a rude or questioning way). Sometimes leaders may lead roughly or forcefully or hold their followers hand too tightly – likely the lead is not intending to create a problem, but in any case this is not o.k. and needs to be corrected, so if you are following let your leader know if this is a problem, or talk to the person at the front door or the organizers. If anyone harasses members of our community, and if anyone sexually harasses anyone, they will be banned from our events.


Rotation & Switching Partners

In classes, everyone rotates (changes partner from time to time) and dances with each other. This is part of the social dance culture we value. Even people who come with their own partner generally have a more enjoyable time when they have the opportunity to social dance and socialize with many different people.

At Dances, normally people change partners for each song. When the song ends normally you thank your dance partner and then leave them on their own so they can easily be asked to dance by someone else before the next song starts, or so they can easily ask someone else to dance.  It is rude to monopolize one partner so try to stick to just one dance together and then move on.

There are of course exceptions; you might not change partners after one song if you came with someone special or someone is a personal friend outside the context of dancing. In that case you might well dance with them for several songs in a row or chat with them all night, or as you both please. But in general, the one song suggestion is a good rule of thumb.

Sometimes people like to chat a lot on the side of the dance floor but the default assumption is that people are there to dance and listen to the band rather than chat, and that people will be left on their own at the end of each song. Sometimes people don’t want to seem rude by breaking out of a conversation, but they’re there to dance so be as cautious of monopolizing their attention in conversation as in keeping them for more than one dance.

We encourage you to dance with as many people at the dance as possible at least once. However, if there is anyone you do not wish to dance with for any reason, you are not obliged to dance with them, and it is fine to politely decline if they ask you. No explanation is needed, and no explanation should be requested.

Dance Hygiene

This is always a touchy subject, but it’s important. You don’t want to be “that person”!

  • That person is someone who smells,  either because of body odour or because of wearing strong perfume or cologne. Have a shower earlier that day, avoid scented products.
  • Or “that person” could be someone who is simply very sweaty and hasn’t brought a change of shirt. It’s not uncommon for people to bring several shirts so that they can change throughout the night. That makes them much more pleasant to dance with.


Dance Etiquette Articles

Sketchy Guys by Richard Powers
Going Out Dancing by Richard Powers
Ultimate Partnering by Richard Powers
Lose The Cool – the Non-Judgmental Lindy Hopper by Mandi Gould of Bees’ Knees Dance in Toronto
Dance Etiquette by Dana of “Left Foot Boogie” in Seattle

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