“Okay, Hannah, there’s no way in heck I’m a bad dance partner…”

If that is your first response, you are absolutely on the right track to becoming a bad dance partner!

Becoming a bad dance partner is an easy process. By following these 7 simple steps, you will be well on your way to ensuring nobody wants to dance with you. Even the best of dancers can become a bad dance partner if they follow my guidelines.

Stay true to these steps and you’ll make sure to sit out every dance!

Step 1: Assume You’re The Best Dancer in The Room

If you’ve noticed that every partner you dance with is awful, don’t worry! It’s not you!

It’s everyone else.

It’s okay to acknowledge that you are the best dancer in the room; everyone else, well, they just aren’t on your level– and it’s okay to let them know that. If you are comfortable quietly judging everyone else, then move on. Don’t bother dancing with anyone beneath you (which is pretty much everyone anyway).

Step 2: Ignore What Your Partner Can and Cannot Do

Whether you’re a lead or a follow, an important step in becoming a bad dance partner is never getting to know what level your partner is at!

Look, just because you’re doing a partner dance doesn’t mean your partner actually matters.

Leads, if your partner isn’t following a particular move, do it over and over again until they get it. Don’t worry about making them feel awkward– they’ll get over it eventually. Along the same lines, follows, make sure you throw in lots of hijacks and complex styling. Be intentional about throwing your lead off time.

Another factor to ignore would be the physical attributes of your dance partner. If they’re injured, don’t show any special consideration for their injury. Or, for example, if there is a significant height discrepancy, should you adjust how you dance?

Absolutely not!

You are the perfect height! Adjusting yourself to accommodate the partnership would just make the dance worse for you. I mean, honestly, if her tiny little legs can’t keep up during the polka, that’s on her.

Step 3: Correct Everyone

Now, this step only pertains to you if you are not a dance instructor.

Your mission is to gift your superior knowledge to all the lesser dancers as often as possible. Some unenlightened dancers might complain about unsolicited advice, but do they complain about a jolly read fat man giving them unsolicited presents once a year? I don’t think so!

Here are some guidelines for completing this step:

Follows: always backlead! It’s better to concentrate on bettering your lead than on becoming a better follow. It’s very self-sacrificing and I salute you for your efforts.

Leads: try a verbal instruction instead of actually leading. Be as patronizing as possible. Because ‘verbal leading’ can be welcomed by your partner on occasion, it’s usually best if you stop the dance entirely to walk your partner through the steps.

If you follow these tips, you’re ready to move on to Step 4!

Step 4: Critique Your Dance Partner (And Everyone Else Too)

Listen, if you’re going to allow someone to dance with you, it’s best to tell them everything they’re doing wrong. By critiquing their abilities, you’re giving them the opportunity to reflect on how they can get better and, trust me, it’s going to make you feel better too.

You can extend this step to include all other dancers on the dance floor. By critiquing them you accomplish one very important task:

You prove how great of a dancer you really are!

Step 5: Don’t Listen

If your partner says, “I don’t know this dance well” or “be careful, my shoulder hurts”. This is the perfect opportunity  to forget what they just told you and dance however you see fit. Honestly, is dancing about you or them?

Hint: it’s all about you.

Don’t just ignore verbal queues, expand your technique by ignoring facial expressions. For example, if you dip her and she looks terrified, you should realize that’s what excitement looks like!  Trust me, she’ll be back for more later.

Ultimately, it’s best to ignore your dance partner overall. Look around, enjoy the scenery, the atmosphere, the music. Ladies, this advice is especially important for you. Always remember that you do not need to pay attention to what you’re doing or how your partner is leading. Let’s be real: it’s not like partner dancing means you’re both contributing anyway.

Step 6: Safety Doesn’t Matter

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:

You are the only person on the dance floor that matters.

Leads, feel free to ignore line of dance and slots; take up the entire floor and make sure to show all other leads that you are both willing and able to take them out with your follow (a.k.a. your ‘meat shield’).

Don’t be shy to show off your meat shield either! Feel free to lift her, throw her, or lead her through some arm-wrenching pretzel turns. If she’s worth her salt, she’ll follow it perfectly. Otherwise, just get a new meat shield (follows are a dime a dozen).

Follows, don’t think this step doesn’t apply to you as well! Use lots of wild hand-movements. Don’t pay attention to who’s around you when your arm styling launches itself in a glorious karate chop motion. Finally, and this goes without saying, but never watch your lead’s back. If he’s going backward, that’s on him. It’s never your job to be observant; besides, you can use that time to try and ghetto stomp somebody’s toes with your heels.

Step 7: Be Overly Sensual – Especially With People You Don’t Know*

Dancing sensually with people you aren’t romantically involved is the best way to make sure nobody wants to dance with you. In fact, making sure your dance partner feels as unsafe and uncomfortable as possible is a sure way to make sure you are no longer welcome at VanCity!

(Please refer to footnote at bottom of article)

Bonus Step: The Golden Rule

If you’ve made it through all seven steps and people still want to dance with you.  I would suggest the Golden Rule of Rudeness:

If you don’t want it done to you, make sure you do it to others!

by Hannah Fishback
Published 11/03/18

* Sexual misconduct is not something we take lightly at VanCity Ballrom. Partner dancing is a physical activity and can be intimate; because of this, we put a huge emphasis on your safety and comfort. If a dancer (male or female) makes you feel uncomfortable, please note that telling them ‘no’ is ALWAYS appropriate and acceptable. Your boundaries are more important than their feelings. If there is ever a moment when you do not feel safe at VanCity Ballroom, please alert our team so we can take immediate action.

2 Comments on “Hannah’s 7 Steps to Becoming A Bad Dance Partner

  1. Hannah, excellent “tips”. And the sarcasm totally fits. Here’s a couple others.

    1) Please, please, PLEASE try to impress me with what you think you know . . .

    2) While your dancing with this partner, look around to see who’s watching you and scope out your next partner for the next dance. Then when the music barely ends, abruptly and unceremoniously abandon your current partner without so much as a peep, and beeline for that next lucky victim.

    With your permission, I’l like to link to this post. I’ve been thinking about a couple blogs about what makes a good/bad dance partner, but you have done such a good job here, it seems silly to reinvent the wheel.

    My name is Lora, and I’ve had a studio down in Salem for 30 years. I don’t know how I managed to find this site, but good job. Thanks,


    • Hi Lora! It’s wonderful to hear from some of our neighbors south of the Columbia River! Loved your extra tips and I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Absolutely feel free to share the post or borrow some points as you see fit.

      Keep dancing!



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