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What's Line Dancing? (Essay)

Linedancing in Western Sydney

The following is not meant to be a "you must obey or else" list of rules and regulations - after all, we're all on the floor to have *fun*. Rather it is just a list of suggestions which dancers are encouraged to follow to make things more enjoyable for both yourself and others. In other words, it's about being polite and considerate. Not to suggest that anyone is intentionally anything but, of course. *grin*

For those who've been dancing since Adam and Eve .. well since the days of Achy Breaky Heart .. please be tolerant of those who're new to line dancing. They'll pick things up eventually and, remember, you were a novice once.

Most of these suggestions are just plain common sense - but I've heard all too many people complain, dancers and instructors/DJ's alike, about most of the following at one time or another (and I'm as guilty as the next person) - so we could all do with a bit of a reminder now and again, whether we've only just started dancing or we've been doing it for donkey's years.

If there're any suggestions you'd like to see added to this list, please email them and I'll add them in.

Dance Hall Etiquette
Always listen to the DJ. It's their job to ensure things go smoothly and it's your job to heed them. It is customary for the DJ to also announce which dance is to be done to the music and to also count it in.
If the DJ does a good job, let them know you have appreciated their efforts. People are all too willing to air a complaint, but compliments are few and far between. DJ's, like beginners, thrive on compliments - and you are more likely to get your requests played, especially if they are dances only a handful know.
Food, drinks, chewing-gum or cigarettes should NEVER  be carried onto the dance floor. It's both dangerous and unpleasant.
Never stay on the floor to talk - if you want to chat, leave the dance floor. This includes standing around the edges of the dance floor - dances can and often do move from one side of the floor to the other and no dancer likes running into or trying to dodge a "chatter".
NEVER walk through a line of dancers to cross the floor. If you have to get from once side of the dance floor to the other, walk around the floor or wait until the dance has stopped. Remember, a dance floor is for dancing - it's not a footpath!
Remember everyone was once a beginner, do try to be helpful to newcomers.
If you are seated or standing around the edge of the dance floor, please be considerate of those dancing - if the dancers moves towards you, move out of their way.
If you are dancing away from your usual haunts and you find the regulars are doing a dance differently or to another song don't tell 'em they're wrong - line dances tend to vary considerably from place to place.

Dancing Etiquette
Give your fellow dancers room to move. Don't hog floor space at their expense and don't accidently dance on top of them.
If you are a beginner, tolerate experienced dancers. They may need a little more room than you might expect. For everyone else - remember, you were a beginner once.
The first line always picks the dance if the DJ does not call it. If you don't know the dance, dance in another part of the floor where you are not in anyone's way.
If the dance floor is empty and you are starting off the dance, go to the front so that others can line up behind you.
If the dance has already started when you arrive on the dance floor, pick up the dance at whatever point those already on the floor are at. Linedancing is all about dancing in step with everyone else, after all. Also join the end of a line, not the middle!
Don’t be tempted to stop dancing to teach, especially if there is no room. Try to teach off the floor if you can find space. On the other hand, if you notice someone nearby who is having trouble, it is quite acceptable to call out the steps (but not too loudly), whilst continuing to dance yourself. This in fact is a good thing to do - it's a great encouragment.
The dance floor is divided into two sections:
CENTRE: for the line dances
OUTSIDE: (around the line dancers) for two steppers and swing dancers
Of course, you wont always have two-steppers or swing dancers, but if you are near the edge of the dance floor it is always a good idea to kept alert to the possibility - especially at a social. Those dancing around the outside lane have the right of way. Of course, if the floor is packed with line dancers, it's not a good time to try two-stepping.
For two-steppers (or other's dancing around the floor), the line of dance is always anti-clockwise.
While line dancers should stay in the centre, away from the two-steppers etc, the latter should also stay away from the centre and not wander into the lines nor cut the corners.
The dance floor may be further divided if more than one linedance can be done to a particular song. Generally the more advanced dance is to the rear of the floor, however this is usually at the discretion of the DJ. When there is a split floor (whether with two, three or even more dances), it is a good idea to leave as much distance as possible between the different dances, especially if one or more of them moves considerably. If the dance floor is crowded, it is not a good idea to split the floor. If you are at a class, it is not good form to attempt an alternative dance unless the instructor OK's it. If you really must do your own dance in class whilst the other's are doing something else or if you want to do a solo act at a social, then it is advisable to do so discretely, putting as much distance as possible between yourself and the other dancers. If this sounds picky, just recall how many times you've miss-stepped when someone near you makes a mistake or does something unchoreographed.
When dancing near beginners be mindful and courteous and don’t show off. Too many variations can put people off if they are unsure of themselves. If you want to enliven a beginner level dance, do it away from any beginner dancers.
Beginner's are advised to stick to the centre of the dance floor - that way, no matter what wall you may be facing, there will be someone in front of you who (hopefully) knows the dance and whom you can follow. The reverse of this is that advanced dancer's should try to stick to the sides.
If the floor is crowded, take small steps, but watch out for collisions.
If you bump into someone, it is customary to apologise whether it is your fault or not. It never hurts to be polite.

And remember .. linedancing is meant to be fun, both for you and everyone else on the dance floor.  

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