Dance Etiquette: The How to Ask Someone to Dance

My husband and I love to dance and general don’t have to think about dance etiquette. We go to a ‘hole-in-wall’ salsa joint almost every week. If we weren’t there enjoying affordable fish bowl-sized margaritas and inclusive atmosphere, we would be dancing at our favorite honky-tonk in town, gettin’ down to Boot Scootin’ Boogie, and all the other country music top hits.

Our boots are triangular

One day, we invited a Salsero to come dance with us at the honky-tonk. The Salsero was having fun until he asked this hot cowgirl to dance. Before she could say anything some drunk, red-faced, cowboy with a tiny penis jumped between them and started yelling. They started fighting and the Salsero spent the night in a cop car. Tiny penis man ended up with an assault charge partly because the Salsero was lacking some Dance Etiquette.

Dance Etiquette
COPS: Whatcha gonna do when they dance with you?

 WTF?! Dance Etiquette cause him to go to Jail? 

Yes. In most established country dance halls, when you come with a partner, you stay with that partner, whereas in the Latin community dudes will be begging other guys to dance with their ladies. Being a diverse dancer is like being a good business man. Don’t invite an Indian to a BBQ. You need to know your cultures. If our Latin friend had known about the different styles of dance etiquette/cultures, he could have avoided a painful night.

Dance Ettiquette
A painful graph of sorts

How does it vary?

Social Latin – Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, Zouk

Free for all. Clothes-on orgy. Change partners most of the night. It is safe to ask any man or any woman to dance. Not dancing, saying no to a dance, or being possessive of a partner is offensive.

Country Dancing

Stay with the partner you brought, or at least within the group you know. Not trying to dance the line dances is frowned upon. Meeting/dancing with singles on the sidelines is okay, but if that person is not alone, ask the significant other(s) if you can dance with them before asking the individual themselves. Depending what your culture is, this may seem odd, but trust me on this one.


Each Swing place is developing its own culture. Traditionally, friendly. Here I recommended to read reviews and observe other people once you’re there. Ladies, keep in mind this isn’t the 1920s anymore, so feel free to ask guys to dance!


Depending what event you are at you may get away with “hey, dance with me.” But here I am going to discuss the more traditional method.


Leader: Hi, My name is ______, would you like to dance this ______?

Follow: Sure.

Here is a simple best case scenario. Leader approaches the follow, introduces himself and the style he wants to dance. Instead of looking like you just swallowed a broomstick, maintain relaxed posture, hold out the left hand, and guide her on and off the floor.  Once the song is over, bring the follow to another leader, or back to where the follow was picked up. I could write a book here, but bottom line, no matter what happens, you are expected to have class while ballroom dancing.

 Last Warning

Be respectful. Learn dance etiquette relating on asking someone how to dance. It’s okay when people say no, dance rejection is not personal.┬áMove on to the next person. With these easy tips, you can avoid a lot of confusion and embarrassment.

dance ettiquette
Avoid an explosive situation

Even though situations you encounter may be more complicated, keep these ideas in mind while going out. If you don’t believe me, have more questions, need more details, or what to share an experience you’ve had, leave a comment below.

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