Don’t Be That Guy: A Guide to Maneuvering a Crowded Dance Floor

“Ouch!” the woman yelps as something sharp scrapes down her ankle.

“Ouff.” the man grunts as an elbow glances him in the shoulder.

These macabre sounds might conjure up images of a battle or brawl, but to veteran dancers, this sounds like some dances on a crowded floor – if those dancers are unprepared.

No one wants to be the person who gets stepped on – or what might feel worse – the person who steps on another. So in preparation for, say, a Medal Ball dance floor, let’s learn a few key skills to help you traverse the social floor as if it were any other studio party where you are king.

Skill 1: Take smaller steps!

Do you know the general rule for speed of music? The faster the song, the smaller the steps.

The same principle applies to how much space you have on a dance floor: small space means small steps.

With a couple hundred people all grooving to the same songs, it’s important to gauge your step size to how much space you have at the moment. If you’re elbow to elbow, keep your steps underneath the body – especially those back rocks! Slide your heel on the floor when stepping back. If you bump into someone’s show, no big deal. If you take a honking step back into another person’s toe…less fun.

Skill 2: Keep a strong frame!

I don’t mean big.

Don’t be that guy elbowing everyone in the head because you’re imagining yourself at Blackpool.

I mean toned and actively listening to your partner.

This isn’t just for leaders, but followers too! If follows aren’t sensitive and light with their arms and movement, even the best leader will have difficulty leading them through a mine-field of dancers. So be firm, responsive and clear with your movement and frame to have the best dance possible with each partner.

Skill 3: Modify your styling!

If don’t have the room to travel, you don’t need to take strong heel leads in a foxtrot or waltz. Go crazy and slide your feet. It will feel better and look better with steps only six inches long.

If you don’t have the space on the floor, you don’t need to do the biggest arm styling possible – because your thumb will go into someone’s eyeball. Keep your hands to yourself.

Skill 4: Embrace the environment!

For most of you, this is the reason you walked into Arthur Murray – social dancing. And we’ve provided you with such a great venue and atmosphere of fun and enjoyment. So, have fun and enjoy it!

Don’t worry about the perfect technique and styling you’ve practiced. Don’t worry about remembering every step you know. Have a nice conversation with your partner and don’t mortally wound anyone. It’s so simple.

And if you do step on someone, it happens. Just apologize and move on.

And if you do get stepped on, it happens. Just graciously accept the apology and move on.

This is a time to relax and enjoy all your hard work. You’re not getting a critique or performing at the studio party. This is the time to put everything you’ve learned to the most fun test we offer – a party.