May I Have This Dance? Your Questions About Dancing with a Partner, Answered

Photo Credit: Midwest Westie Fest

It can be nerve-wracking to look for potential dance partners when you’re attending social dances on your own. While social dances have a light, part vibe, not everyone’s looking for a dance partner, and it’s hard to know which ones are fine to dance with someone new. You’re basically opening yourself up to rejection when you’re asking people to dance with you.

Rejection is inevitable in social dancing because not everyone’s comfortable dancing with total strangers for one reason or another. Should you get upset when your offer to dance with someone was rejected? Surely not; that’s just part of the experience. Most times, the rejection has nothing to do with you but more with the person’s comfort level in being asked to dance.

In this guide, let’s dive deep into dancing with a partner - how to react when your offer to dance is rejected, the reasons why people reject offers to dance, what you can do to increase your chances of getting people to dance with you, and how to handle when your SO is asked to dance during a social dance event.

The Right Way to Ask Someone to Dance Salsa or Bachata

It's tricky to ask people to dance with you if you are new to the social dance scene and don't have a date. But since social dancing has a party vibe, everyone’s up for a good time, so don’t be intimidated! As long as you want clean, good fun, you need to get out there and ask someone to dance. But there is a right way and a wrong way of doing this. These tips are intended primarily for men who ask women to dance with them for the first time.

Asking someone to dance with you the right way will not only make you look good in that person's eyes, but you'll also likely receive a yes.

If you see the person you want to ask for a dance, try to make eye contact and smile in a friendly, non-creepy way. Walk casually towards her, making sure to give her several feet of personal space. Do not hover near her, do not stand too close, do not leer, do not hold her gaze too long, so you don't come across as creepy or threatening.

If you are standing behind her, just gently tap her on the shoulder, wait for her to turn around, and focus her attention on you before saying hi. Ask her, "would you like to dance," or "may I have this dance?" while smiling, and extending your left hand above wait level and palm up.

If Your Offer was Accepted

If she said yes, take her hand if she offers it and walk together to the dance floor.

What to do After a Dance: When the song is about to end, don’t forget to execute a little finale. You can give your partner a spin/turn out, or a dip. Don’t just stand there and drop your hands when the music stops!

After the finale, say, “thank you, that was fun. I hope you had a great time too!” and then walk away or walk her back to her seat.

Don’t ask the same person to dance to the next music right away unless she said so or gave signs that she wants to dance with you to the next song.

If she said yes to the second dance, don’t overdo it with a third offer. You might come off too strong. Also, she might need a break from all that dancing to rest and freshen up. Depending on the situation, you can buy her a drink after the dance as long as the romantic connection is clearly mutual. If it's not, be fair and just move on.

If you feel that she genuinely had a great time and would be open to dancing again later, say “Save me a dance later” or “Find me and let me know if you want another dance later.” This will take the pressure off you, give you time to rest, and give the woman the option to dance with you later if she’s still up for it.

If someone asked her to dance just as you finished the song and said your thank-yous, give them space and walk away.

If Your Offer was Rejected

If she says no, just smile, brush it off, and walk away. Do not linger, do not follow her, and do not make repeated attempts at asking this same person to dance. Find someone else to ask to dance - preferably someone not nearby or within earshot when you got rejected to dance.

Rejection is normal; it’s part of the whole experience. You'll need to keep your emotions in check if your offer to dance has been rejected. The last thing you want is to get physically angry at the person who refuses to dance with you or show visible signs of distress. You don’t want to make a scene and end up being booted out of the event.

While there could be many reasons why someone would reject an offer to dance, the most common are:

  • You came off too strong
  • She just came across a creep
  • Either she doesn't think you're a good enough dancer for her or she's not good enough to dance with you
  • Your dance style clashes with hers
  • She has a date
  • She tired, busy, or she has her eye on someone else

Whatever the reason is, it’s best to just move on after being rejected. The night is young and there are many fishes in the sea.

If Your Date was Asked to Dance

It's a perfectly natural response to feeling a tinge of jealousy when your date is asked to dance by someone else at a dance event. In fact, there are loads of online discussions about dealing with jealousy when dating a dancer or seeing a date getting lots of offers to dance by strangers. 

How secure you are in your relationship with your date will definitely come into play in such a situation. People go to social dances to have fun, socialize, and party. You'll have to work through the reason for jealousy and avoid letting your feelings get the best of you. It will be unfair to ask your date to turn down any offers when you have no problem accepting offers to dance.Ultimately, you can only control your feelings and not other people's actions. We suggest talking to your spouse or date about it, setting boundaries, and working through your feelings. It's OK to feel jealous, but it's not okay to control other people's actions just because you want to be comfortable.
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