Simple Rules of Ballroom Dance Etiquette
First Things First
Dress should be suitable for dancing. Dancers should bear in mind the "dancer friendliness" of their attire (beaded sleeves that swipe their partner’s faces, metal-studded biker wear, plate armor etc. should be avoided).
Gentlemen should always close their jackets or take them off before dancing.
One's attire should also be suitable for the occasion:
Personal oral and bodily hygiene is of utmost importance. If you notice that your partner is holding their breath, bolts from the dance floor once the dance is over and repeatedly refuses to dance with you again, it is time to take the hint. Heavy perfumes and highly volatile hair styling products should also be used sparingly. Breath mints and soap should be used liberally.
At the Dance
Either the man or woman may graciously ask for a dance. Try one’s best not to turn down anyone who has asked for a dance. Although it is perfectly all right to state that one is "sitting this one out" or that one is not familiar a particular dance, it is extremely rude to turn down one person and then accept another invitation during the same dance number.
Be sociable! Introduce yourself to your partner right away.
With couples of two different genders, the gentleman always leads the lady. Cutting in is quite acceptable at dance classes but should be avoided at social events. At the end of a dance, one should thank his/her partner for the dance and leave the partner at the "sidelines" instead of on the dance floor.
Dance Faux Pas to be Avoided by Women
The Claw. This is when a woman clutches the man right arm with an iron grip. This can be excruciating with long nails especially in combination with The Cadaver.
The Cadaver. This is when the woman does not support the weight of her own arms or body but hangs off her partner as dead weight that he must drag across the dance floor. Less extreme but much more common are women with a weak frame and spaghetti arms. This is physically taxing for the man since he has put in twice as much effort to lead the woman.
The She-Male. The most common complaint voiced by male dancers are women who lead and/or will not follow the man’s lead. This form of gender identity disorder is a guaranteed way to end up on the sidelines and blacklisted unless you are stunningly good looking.
The Iron Maiden. There are women who wish to avoid all body contact short of wearing a chastity belt. The only way for the man to lead a woman who insists on dancing at an arm's length distance is to shout out the dance steps. Body contact is a necessary element of proper ballroom dancing, hence it is not an appropriate activity for those who need their "personal space". This faux pas is only forgivable when the man has poor hygiene.
Miss Sourpuss. Shaking one’s head, rolling one’s eyes, looking bored, unenthusiastic or pissed off and ignoring one’s partner all fall into this category of bad attitude. As one of my dance teachers once stated: "In dancing, it is the job of the woman to look like she is having the time of her life."
Dance Faux Pas to be Avoided by Men
The Phantom Menace. Ambiguous or non-existent leading is the most common complaint voiced by female ballroom dancers since it is usually the woman that ends up looking bad when the man doesn’t lead properly. It is not the job of the woman to know what steps to do, hence, a firm lead is always appreciated. Lack of frame and spaghetti arms are bad enough in women but dancing is almost impossible when it is the man that is guilty of this faux pas.
The Dictator. Men who lead by barking orders and arm-wrenching are unpleasant. Although this is somewhat rare, what is more common are men who, to varying degrees, bulldoze and drag their partners across the dance floor. This is particularly harrowing when dancing the faster dances with larger men, an experience that is akin to being slammed by granite block (remember, p = mv).
The Kitchen Mop. Dancing with a man wearing a sweat-drenched shirt is like dancing with a wet dog. Gentlemen, please bring a spare shirt to change into if you have overactive sweat glands. Anti-perspirant is always appreciated.
The Egoist. "The primary job of the gentleman is to make his partner look good." It is, therefore, considered impolite to dance above the level of one’s partner. If you sense that a lady is not comfortable with a certain step, take care to avoid it. This particularly true of dips and acrobatic moves, particular those involving throwing the lady into the air. Please be sensitive to your partner’s level of dance experience.
The Pervert. A good way to make a lasting impression is to commit this faux pas. In fact, the victims will remember you for all of eternity as "The Pelvis Man" or "Mr. Groper". Wandering hands, indiscreet stares, stalking, unwanted advances, the list of lecherous behavior goes on and on and on...