Typically males will lead and females will follow. But these days anything goes! Leads can ask follows to dance, follows can ask leads. Girls can dance with girls, guys can dance with guys–I’ve seen it all! So in this website I will generally use the gender neutral terms “lead” and “follow” except where it will cause more confusion.
Here is how both men and women can ask someone to dance:
The Simple Approach
- Approach the person you want to dance with from the front so they see you coming. If you can’t get to them that way, a gentle hand on their shoulder is polite and will get their attention.
- Ask “Would you like to dance?” with hand outstretched, and don’t forget to smile.
- If they say no, don’t take it personally. There could be a million reasons they say no, and 90% of the time it has nothing to do with you.
- If they say no, you can say something like “Okay, well if you change your mind, let me know!” Smile, and walk away.
- If you’re saying “No” to someone, you don’t need to give a reason. A simple “No, thank you” is honest and to the point. Or if it was just not the right time–say “Not for this one, but I’ll come find you in a song or two!”
- If you’re the one saying “No,” don’t expect them to ask again on the same night. If you have changed your mind, and now you want to dance with them, it’s up to you to find them and ask.
After the dance
- If they say “yes,” thank them when you finish the dance.
- After the dance walk them back to their group, especially if it’s someone you don’t know, and especially if they are new to dancing. It’s polite, and will show them that you care that they get back safely to their friends.
- It’s rare for someone to agree to more than one dance in a row, especially if they are in high-demand as a dancer. You can still ask (if they say “yes” they probably like you!), but be prepared to be told “no,” and don’t take it personally.
- If you’re asking someone of the same gender to dance, you should specify if you are going to lead or follow since the roles are not pre-determined.
- If you want to dance with more than one person in a group, don’t “cast a net”–what I mean is don’t walk up to the group and say “Do any of you want to dance with me?” You’ll be more successful asking one person at a time. It’s also more respectful.
- “I have a boyfriend” and similar responses are not very good answers to “Do you want to dance?” I can understand why someone might say that, but keep in mind that they aren’t asking you out–they’re just asking for a dance! Assuming they want more than a dance is kind of snobbish. A better response: “I only dance with my boyfriend. Sorry!”
- Don’t hover by the person you want to dance with–it’s awkward. Here as two great ways to seize your moment:
- Strike up a conversation with them, and when the next song starts, ask.
- If you’re too shy to talk first, just walk over to them as a song is ending, and ask right as the next song is starting (this also works if they are leaving the dance floor, to politely intercept them for the next dance).