Some people think it’s a terrible habit to chat away on the dance floor. But does it really matter?
Generally it doesn’t bother me. Modern jive (and west coast swing) is a social dance after all. I think it’s good to get to know the people you’re dancing with week in week out. However there is a time and a place, and it should be a case of think before you speak.
I think talking while on the dancefloor is like the skill that good hairdressers have…know when to talk, what to talk about, and when to stay quiet.
I find a hello when asking someone to dance is a polite and welcoming thing to say, introduce yourself and ask their name (not enough people do this, me included) and a how are you wouldn’t go amiss. It helps put someone at ease if they don’t know you. Then for me it depends on the partner, the music and dance quality.
It’s ok to talk:
- to friends
- to people you’ve not seen around for a while
- if it’s a fun track where you’re playing around and generally it’s a less serious song which is more fun than creating a serious connection
- at the end of a dance, and during the walk onto the dance floor (maybe the first couple of bars of the track)
- when something goes wrong, to reassure and laugh about it (not to teach)
- when the other person is open to it
For me, there needs to be several of these ticked off for talking during dancing to be ok.
When not to talk:
- during an intense dance, where both dancers are into the music and the connection would be broken with words
- when your partner isn’t open to it
- after you’ve said your hellos already
- at the end of a dance standing in the middle of the dancefloor at the end of the dance. Either move off and have the conversation or start dancing again.
- you don’t know your partner well enough to know if they’re open to chat.
Dancing is about your partner, their movements, balance, timing, connection, ability to lead or follow, musicality and body language. It’s more complex partner dancing than dancing solo. It’s so much more rewarding when it comes together right, but of course, at the end of the dance when the ‘spell’ of the perfect dance is broken, then is the time for a chat off the dancefloor.
While a bit of a catch up is fine for many people, there are so many topics that really shouldn’t be discussed or pointed out on the dancefloor, especially at freestyles (and classes unless you’re the teacher or taxi and it’s not asked for):
- pointing out a partner’s weak points
- teaching a move that didn’t go right
- pointing out failings of other dancers on the dancefloor (just concentrate on your own dance)
- pick up lines or anything that could be misconstrued as such
- asking questions about past dance history
- while it’s not a whole conversation, any mention of the name of a move (if you’re leading it properly, there’s no need. And don’t tell me to double spin, I’ll decide to do it when I get the right stable lead and I’m in the right position, frame of mind with the right music)
I have to admit when partners talk to me on the dancefloor it is usually at a sensible and acceptable point, but if people ask me questions I find it hard to hear over the music and general hubbub. So if you wonder why I’m just nodding inanely or answering yes to something that wasn’t a question, it’s probably because I didn’t hear it and it’s not the right time to talk. I might have been in my dance bubble dancing away, feeling the music rather than tuning into your conversation.
For me, chat is ok for a couple of bars, but then I just want to dance. Dancers certainly need to understand their partners as part of dancing, and that applies to chat. Just think before you talk.
How do you feel about chat on the dancefloor? Does it annoy you?