Ballroom Dancing Etiquette – Hygiene, Asking Someone to Dance, Personal Space, Leading and Following, and more!

Are you a newbie to the ballroom dancing scene and are unsure of the right way to dress, and interact with your partner and other dancers? You do not need to worry, as ballroom dancing etiquette is not rocket science, but there are a few simple rules that you should be aware of.

Familiarizing yourself with these rules will help you feel at home on the dance floor, so that you can actually accomplish what you came to do in the first place; dance and have lots of fun!!! 🙂



While personal oral and bodily hygiene seems like an obvious must when dancing with a partner, its importance cannot be overstated enough. Make sure to use deodorant, body spray, breath mints and anything else in your arsenal to make sure that it would be pleasant for another person to remain in close proximity to you. It is best to avoid heavy perfumes and hair styling products with strong smells. More is less when it comes to strong scents, subtle is classy! 😉

Dress Code

First and foremost your clothing should be comfortable and suitable for dancing. Also, bear in mind that your attire should not cause any discomfort to your partner (i.e. hard metal belt buckles, beaded sleeves that brush up against partner’s faces, etc).

Men should always close their jackets or take them off before dancing. Your attire should also be appropriate for the occasion:

Informal: Nice casual attire that you would wear to an upscale nightclub

Semi-formal: Men should wear coat and tie for men. Women should wear a dress of any length.

Formal: Men should wear a dress suit or tuxedo. Women should wear a dress of any length.

Black-tie formal: Men should wear a tuxedo or white dinner jacket. Women should wear a long dress.

Asking someone to dance

While it may feel awkward or scary to ask someone to dance, you need to remember that this is not a typical social situation and people who ballroom dance are there to do one thing: ballroom dance. This means that it is not likely that you will be turned down, unless the other person has a good reason for it.

In the same vein, try your best not to turn someone down if they asked you to dance. If you do turn down a request to dance, it is polite to give a reason. It is all right to say that you are “resting” “sitting out”, or that you are “not familiar with this particular dance”.

If you would like, you can also warn them that you are a “beginner”. It is considered very rude to turn down one person and then accept another invitation during the same dance number. Moreover, doing a 100 meter dash to get a “choice” partner is considered improper.

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