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Dance Floor Etiquette 101

I came here to dance—what did you come here to do?

I have been going to see live music regularly since I first entered adulthood. For many years, I was a genre-bending attendant of punk shows held in basements, warehouses, and (sometimes) legal venues. Punk music and its vibe is characterized by compartmentalized aggression, regardless of microgenre. But even when it came to moshing, head-banging, and the circle pit, there was a quiet code of conduct. Hardcore shows were probably the most violent. People in the pit kicked, swung, and slammed into each other as hard as they could. Tacitly, If you didn’t want to get slammed into, you stayed far away from people who were moshing and away from the inner circle that contained “the pit.”

Dance music is much more mainstream. With that comes no code of conduct, less rigid social dynamics, and it is accessible to anyone with a photo ID and enough cash for cover. Some problems come with dance parties held at bars because bars are inhabited by normal people, and normal people suck. Drunk normal people suck even more. If you’ve ever had an altercation on the dance floor, this article is for you. Here are the don’ts of dance floor etiquette—you decide the do’s.

1. Don't spill your drink on anyone.

If you do, apologize! No one wants to be wet, cold, or covered in smelly beer or sticky soda, you rude MF. I get it—your hips start shaking, your drink starts sloshing, and god forbid someone bumps your elbow. None of these things are excuses to lose your manners and no level of intoxication makes you less responsible for your actions. Get your shit together, Becky.

2. Don’t touch, grab, or get physical without a consent.

No one’s dancing is an invitation for you to touch them. I have had to dodge men who squeeze in between my friends and I and try to involve themselves. I have had to move to the other side of the room from people who think they can touch me while I’m dancing. Believe it or not, but this is normal life, especially for femmes, on the dance floor. We don’t want to fight you, but it’s annoying when you kill our vibe and it’s downright criminal to sexually assault us. Fuck off.

3. Don't just stand there.

Especially if you are looking at your phone. And don't you dare try to get a photo of the DJ—it won't look cool in this lighting anyway. If you’re in a sea of dancing, moving bodies don’t be the reason they can’t move freely. If you aren't dancing, get off the dance floor. Everyone who is dancing is dancing together (even if it doesn’t seem that way.) On the dance floor, we are one…you know, when I dip you dip we dip. If someone keeps rhythmically bumping into you because you’re standing still in the middle of an ebbing and flowing crowd, you're the problem.

4. Don't try to have a conversation.

If you try to speak over the music, you are interrupting the enjoyment of anyone within earshot. Also, violating this rule will probably lead to you violating #3. If you’re not dancing, go somewhere else. There is plenty of seating in this bar, and plenty of places where the music is quieter. Dance now, talk later.

Respect begets respect. When I feel disrespected, I am far less likely to return to that bar or that event ever again. Harshing one vibe harshes all vibes. There is a time and place for everything, and the time and place for dancing is when we are all out on the floor. The dance floor will be ready for you when you're ready for it.

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Dance Floor Etiquette 101
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