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Photo by Renee Malinowski

Etiquette Lost

By Tom Hufnagel – Commentary
Social Member's Commentary about Ballroom Etiquette

I still remember the first time I watched a film of the Viennese Waltz, a dance that embodies the timeless grace of Vienna, Austria in the late 19th century. A room full of dancers moved in perfect synchrony, rising on the two-beat and descending on the three-beat, circling counterclockwise to the music of Johann Strauss. This system has remained unchanged since then, a testament to its enduring beauty.

The Viennese Waltz, Waltz, Foxtrot, and Tango all follow a similar structure, now known as the Smooth Style or American Smooth. This shared framework not only highlights the elegance and precision of these dances but also emphasizes their interconnectedness despite their distinct characteristics.

However, on some ballroom dance floors, exercise classes are infiltrating that are out of place. I am referring to an exercise called “line dancing,” which extends the word dance. For example, a couple dancing the Tango would be ready to accelerate down the floor, and voila! A line dancer blocks them!

One of the fundamental rules for ballroom dancers is to flow in the line of dance. This involves moving around the floor counterclockwise to ensure a smooth flow and minimize the risk of collisions. Following this rule is rule is an essential aspect of ballroom dance etiquette.

It is disheartening that some people are inconsiderate and feel no compunction about clogging the dance flow with a movement that a purest would not even call a dance. This behavior disrupts the harmony of the dance floor and detracts from the beauty of the art form.

One way to improve dance etiquette is for dance studios to provide their own version of Dance Etiquette. I think that would be a good start

Editor’s Note:  The views and opinions expressed in this commentary belong to the writer and should not be considered the official views and opinions of USA Dance.  American Dancer, as the official publication of USA Dance, welcomes our readers’ comments and suggestions to improve the dancing we all love.  Send yours to Managing Editor Rose-Ann Lynch:

Tom Hufnagel has intermittently been an active member of USA Dance’s Chapter #2015 Youngstown-Warren, Ohio, since the 1990s. He used to work as a Microsoft Office software instructor at ETI Technical College in Niles, Ohio, but is now retired. Along with the college director, Renee Zuzolo, he taught East Coast Swing and Waltz to the students for free. Tom learned ballroom dance in Columbus and Grandville Heights, Ohio.

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