How many times should you ask for a dance?

swing and blues dancing at the Blue Note Grill

We all have our favorite partners…

Usually, these are partners where we could spend a long time dancing with them, and still enjoy our time. Sometimes, we’re more than happy to ask and re-ask for dances throughout the night.

A re-ask (for the purposes of this article) is when you ask a person for a dance more than one time in a night. It doesn’t matter whether your first ask was accepted or declined; later asks are still re-asks.

Re-asks tend to be less of an issue if you and the other person have the same ‘threshold’ for number of dances in an evening. They tend to be more of an issue if you want to dance with the person a lot more in one evening than they wish to dance with you.

It’s almost impossible to know if someone is on the same page as you unless you’ve had a lot of previous experience with that person. In general, it is best to assume that the two of you have a different threshold – unless past experiences have proven otherwise.


When you both enjoy the same amount of dances

When you and that person both enjoy the same amount of dances with each other, things tend to work perfectly. Essentially, both of you are on-board with how many dances you can have together before wanting to move to other partners. It also means you’re generally on the same page when it comes to re-asks.

For example, both of you may tire of each other around the 4-song mark every time you dance, and you may be up for a maximum of 3 rounds in the night. Or, it could be a person you are happy to dance 10 songs with – but only one time.

Most frequently and in most genres**, most partners are happy to dance 1-2 songs 1-2 times per night with any given partner. More than this tends to only be reserved for dances that are ‘favourites’.

**Disclaimer: Tango and Kizomba for sure have different rules on this. I’m not sure about some other dances, like blues.**

At this point, partners don’t generally need to spend too much time thinking about re-asks. Since they’re on the same page, they tend not to frustrate each other with re-asks. Very often, there’s eye contact and some sort of ‘wanna go again?’ body language going on.


When you don’t both enjoy the same amount of dances

The ‘we like the same amount of dances’ rule is great – when it happens. Sometimes, partners have a different ‘threshold’ for how many dances they can have with the other person before they want to move to another partner. For example, one partner may want to dance 5x a night for multiple songs with a person – while the other one is comfortable dancing 2 songs 1 time.

It’s a common misconception that the person who wants fewer dances is more advanced, while the person who wants more dances is less advanced. There are several other reasons  that this imbalance can occur:

  • One partner isn’t a fan of how the other leads/follows – regardless of level
  • One person may prefer a higher/lower energy partner
  • One partner may not mesh with the type of movements the other is doing

Very often, the personal relationship, relationship status, other favourite partners, and just personal temperament may also influence the number of dances one wants to have with a particular partner.

When you want to re-ask a partner who may have a different threshold, body language and respect for boundaries is very important. Like everything else in dance, the less-comfortable partner sets the boundaries. This means that the person who wants to dance fewer songs gets to make the decision.


When you re-ask

It is important to remember that each re-ask gives a higher chance of being declined for a dance.

When you ask someone to dance the first time in an evening, you never run the risk of them being ‘overloaded’ with dances by you. Basically, it’s a clean slate. They still may say ‘no’, but it’s not because you’ve already danced and they’re ready for a different partner.

After that first dance, each re-ask is more likely to get a ‘no’, or a ‘yes’ out of pressure or obligation. This is because each re-ask increases the likelihood that they have reached their max. number of dances with you for the evening.

There are a few useful rules to generally adhere to when it comes to ‘re-asking’:

  • Say ‘I’d love to dance again later!’ at the end of your first dance.

When you say something along these lines at the end of your first dance session, it opens an opportunity for them to agree that they’d like more. If they say “Yes! Come find me!” it’s a good indication that a re-ask will be welcome. If they just say maybe, thank you, or just smile, they’re probably at their limit. This type of sentence also opens the door for them to ask *you* later in the evening.

  • Make eye contact first

When you make eye contact before re-asking, it gives you a good idea if it will be a welcome ask. If they maintain eye contact or smile, they’re probably into it. If they avoid eye contact, act disinterested, or move away, it’s probably their limit for the evening.

  • Take ‘No’ as ‘No, for the evening’

Guest writer Trevor Copp wrote about something similar he does regarding all requests to dance – but it’s especially useful in re-asks. Basically, if someone turns down your re-ask, leave it for the night. Chances are, the person isn’t eager to get on the floor with you more in that same evening. Even if they say they’re taking a break, leave it for the night. Ask them again the next time.

If they want to dance again that night, they’ll find you.

  • Stop while they’re still saying ‘Yes’

If it’s someone who likes you as a person or as a dancer, chances are they’ll say ‘yes’ a few times past their ideal limit. This is because they still want you to know that they enjoy your dancing and company. However, each time they say ‘yes’ past their limit is likely to cause mixed feelings and awkwardness. It may also cause them to burn out of their enthusiasm for your dances.

A good way to counteract this is to switch back and forth on the asking. If you have already asked twice, leave it until they ask for another one. If they don’t, occupy yourself with other partners for the evening.


“But I really want to dance with them more!”

I know. There’s people I really want to dance with more, and never get the chance. It’s just the way things are. But, your desire to dance does not trump their desire to not dance. In order to make any future dances between you awesome, it’s important to give them the space to actually *treasure* your dances together – rather than shy away from yet another ask.

Basically, if you are constantly over-asking, you can actually damage your long-term dance relationship. If you under-ask a little, you preserve the constant desire to ‘get’ dances with each other.

Think of it like chocolate: If someone gives you a truffle, it’s fantastic. If they give you a whole box of truffles and expect to watch you eat each one, it’s not so fantastic – it’s overkill, and may even stop you from liking more truffles in the short-term future.

Instead of spending time focusing on the dances you didn’t get, put your focus somewhere else. Find someone else to dance with. Have a conversation with the person, instead of asking them to dance. There are other ways to connect besides only dancing.

Finding a great dance partner is fantastic. If you keep control of re-asks, you can enjoy a long dance relationship that is always a treasure.

Remember: it’s always best to err on the side of fewer dances!



Laura Riva
Instructor, Performer, Author
The Dancing Grapevine
Original article: “How many times should you ask for a dance?

How to Consent in Social Dance

The not just for beginner’s guide to consent

When one first treks onto the social dance floor, the main goal is very clear: to dance with someone and hopefully many, many other someones! However, how one goes about getting someone else to dance with them in a way that is socially acceptable can sometimes be very confusing and intimidating. This is where consent comes into play and it is essential to establish the permission to safely interact within another individual’s personal space. Without this crucial step, we are taking away another person’s right for choice which can really put a damper on the whole having fun thing.

Before We Dive In…

It’s important to realize that there are many ways to communicate and that consent can be given both verbally and non-verbally. Both forms are equally effective given the right situations and either one can be ineffective depending on the person or the circumstance. If one method of communication is not working, be sure to use another! This is especially so for ladies and other indirect communicators – if nonverbal body language isn’t working, it’s perfectly ok to switch it up and use verbal communication!

So, How Do We Start?

Asking someone to dance is the first instance where we typically encounter consent. We want to make sure that we are giving the person who we are asking the opportunity to have a choice in the matter. This can be done in a number of effective ways using nonverbal, verbal or both. It can be as easy as making eye contact while approaching our desired partner with our hand extended and our eyebrows raised, walking up to someone and asking them “Hey, do you want to dance?” or some mixture of all of the above. Be creative and come up with whatever works for you.

How to get consent

Whatever asking method we choose, be sure to wait for the person to respond before dragging them out to the dance floor in a flood of exuberance; just because we are asking someone for a dance does not mean that they automatically have to say yes. In fact, there are a whole host of reasons that someone would say “no thanks” to a dance: fatigue, injury, thirst, unappealing song, catching up with friends, etc. Whatever the reason, please keep in mind that they are not rejecting you as a person, but simply saying no to that particular dance and would most likely say yes at a later point in time. If we don’t get the affirmation that we are looking for, just move on to the next person! By the way, it is generally considered socially acceptable to interrupt conversations in order to ask someone to dance. It is common to do so but is can be a gray area depending on the situation, so if it looks like a deep conversation, just keep on moving.

If we are the one saying “no” to someone else, please be kind about it – it can take a lot of nerve for someone to build up the courage to ask. Some people like to tack on the reason why they are saying no, but this is not a requirement and no explanation is necessary. Again, feel free to respond in whichever effective means of communication you like, but do be cognizant about why we are turning the other person down. Nobody wants an earful of contempt and condescension especially if we are a more experienced dancer. Doing so will kill a welcoming atmosphere and slowly yet certainly erode a dance scene.

Got consent? Let's dance!

Got Consent – Now are We Free and Clear?

Not quite yet. Just because we made it to the dance floor with someone who gave their consent doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want with them while we are there. Consent still comes into play in different ways and there are pitfalls that we need to watch out for. Want to know more? Check out the video above to find answers to questions like:

  • What exactly did we agree to?
  • My hands go where?
  • How close is too close?
  • Other things can touch?
  • How will I know my partner is cool with what I am doing?
  • What the heck is the “80/20” rule and how do I use it?

What do you guys think? Was anything left out or was there something that you felt should be expanded upon? Voice your thoughts, concerns, epiphanies and experiences below!

*Special thanks to the dynamic teaching duo of Krystal and Adam Wilkerson from Huntsville AL for sharing their thoughts and helping to put together such a wonderful video!




Matthew Vazquez
Dance Instructor, DJ and Owner

Surviving Your First Social Dance

Dance Beginnings or Bombs?

The first social dance I ever attended was interesting to say the least. I’m not talking about those junior high social dance classes that you took where everybody was awkward, nobody knew what they were doing and yet turning someone down for a dance was strictly against the rules. I’m referring to the type of social dance that happens when you’re an “adult’, or at least a college kid for most.

My first social dance experience was cleverly disguised as a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert. My sister had graciously surprised both my girlfriend and I with extra tickets that she had won earlier in the day, which just so happened to include a free swing dance lesson! I had no idea what I was getting into. Armed with nothing but my two left feet, repetitive learner’s syndrome, a very non-superhero-like immobility power and my acute deer-in-headlights gaze culminated into a what I perceived to be a perfect storm of failure. Struggling to accomplish just the basic steps while everyone else seemed to instantly blaze on ahead left me with a very long lasting and frustrating impression. So much so that I didn’t even think about the idea of dance without the “someone stepped on my grave” chills running down my spine for an entire year – until my first desk job…


Your Mileage Will Indeed Vary.

While I have no doubt that the majority of other people’s experiences will be vastly different than mine (which is a good thing!), there are some things that would have helped me maximize the most out of my first social dance experience, or for you when you are ready to take the plunge. Rebecca Brightly’s article aptly titled “How to Survive Your First Social Dance” posted over at Dance World Takeover is almost exactly what is needed. It’s jammed packed with all sorts of good ideas for dipping that big toe onto the dance floor or for scratching that dance itch that you’ve had in the back of your brain. It’s amazing what an always sitting at a computer desk job will motivate a person to do. Even try new things that they swore that they’d never attempt again, like finally taking those dance classes!

Strategy, My Dear Watson!

Rebecca’s blog post covers many great, and more importantly, strategic ways for attending your first social dance. Four strategies to be exact! Everything from taking baby steps to build up to going to the dance, finally venturing out onto the dance floor, applying the safety in numbers tactic by bringing friends or classmates with you to the very Zen and mindful strategy of assuming nothing. She has even included the age-old hunter’s strategy of adopting clothing “camouflage” to blend into the surroundings! How clever is that? Having these fantastic strategies in you back pocket will surely help with the first time one decides to have a go at a social dance!


Almost Perfect? Where Did I Go Wrong?

Reflecting back on the past experience with attending my first social dance, I ran through the checklist:

  • Baby Steps: Check! I only jumped in as far as I was comfortable
  • Power in Numbers: Check! I had my sis and my girlfriend with me.
  • Look like I belong: Check! I was dressed at the same level as the majority of those attending the concert as well as the lesson.
  • Assume Nothing: Double check, check! I had no clue so I really had this one covered.

So why was my first experience such a downer then? While Rebecca does a fantastic job of giving newer dancers a great set of tools for making their first experience a positive one, there is an underlying assumption that the person venturing out has some sort of dance experience first such as the kind gained through dance classes! This vital part was completely missing from my original experience.

Making Some Changes…

Taking social dance classes was the answer that I was missing. Being able to learn the various dances at a slower pace with others at the same level really helped boost the confidence and added to the social aspects of the dance.  Having the lessons under my belt gave me a new sense of appreciation for social dancing and I fell in love with the swing dance genre dances. After a few months, I was ready to try again at attending a dance and… SUCCESS!



But Wait, There’s More!

That second time at my “first” dance was quite a few years ago now and I have kept dancing. Looking back, there are a few more things that I like to include for the first timers…

  • Show up for the lesson! This is a great way to warm up, get into the dancing mood and shake off the long drive (if you had one). On top of that, you get the added benefit of learning something new from another teacher (always a good thing) and you’ll get to meet the people that you’ll be dancing with later! Even if you are far enough along and know all of the moves being taught, you are helping to build an awesome community by giving the newer dancers a chance to hone their skills with a more experienced dancer.
  • Those that ask the most, dance the most! You are the sole person in control of how awesome you make your dancing experience, so be proactive! It can be intimidating for some people to get up the nerve to ask someone to dance, but it sure beats sitting along the sidelines and waiting to be asked. Any communication style can be effective – direct, indirect or anything in between. Me personally, I like to just extend my hand out to the person with an inquisitive look on my face with an occasional “Dance?” thrown in. See what works for you. By the way, it IS socially acceptable to interrupt conversations for dances…
  • Try not to take offense to someone who tells you “no”. There are many, many reasons for someone to turn down a dance- they are tired, hurt, thirsty, not in the dancing mood yet etc… Keep in mind that they are just saying no to that particular dance and not to you as a person. If on the slim chance that they are say no to you as a person, you don’t want to be dancing with them anyway.

Dancing has changed my life. I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people and amazing experiences that have materialized from just venturing out to have a dance. I hope that you also give yourself the opportunity to take a chance at that first step on the dance floor, and as always- save a dance for me!




Matthew Vazquez
Dance Instructor, DJ and Owner