Impressions On the Dance Floor: Part #1


So, this post is an opportunity to shed light on some issues that continually come up in not only my personal dance experiences but also in conversations with others when it comes to the impressions we make on each other.  It’s sometimes difficult to talk about these ideas because feelings can get hurt, and therefore nothing gets said.  So below I’ll offer some advice about hygiene and social niceties that can make our collective social experience more enjoyable.

Some thoughts on hygiene:

It’s a no-brainer in any other social situation that sweaty pits, bad breath and overall bodily funk are not qualities we want to possess nor seek in others.  So why should that not hold true for social dancing too?  Swing dancing is a highly-active endeavor and involves close contact with other people.  Not to fear-monger, but I’ll suggest that you should assume it’s you when it comes to being “that person,” and in doing so, I hope you take these easy steps to maintain good social-dance hygiene.

Bring extra t-shirts and a sweat towel.  You know your perspiration output better than anyone else, or at least we hope you do.  Change your shirts as often as need be such that your partners aren’t compelled to dance an entire song with you in break-away.  My variation on this advice for followers is No Tank Tops, PLEASE! Very little aggravates me more than smelling B.O., fearing it’s me, then realizing that my forearm has been the victim of a closed-position schmearing from a follow. Another trick that I’ll sometimes employ is a “back test.” This requires a friend whose opinion you trust, but you simply ask them to touch your back to test it’s “touch-ability.”  It’s a hard to reach place, and having an outside perspective on your perspiration can be very helpful in not subjecting partners to an uncomfortable or awkward situation.

My second bit of advice is to keep that breath fresh.  My patented four-step process is as follows:

  1. Brush your teeth.  It’s fairly straight-forward but you’d be surprised.
  2. Keep gum with you.  My variation on this theme is Listerine strips, and the burn tells you it’s working.
  3. Hydrate often.  Not only is it just good advice in general, but cottonmouth is one of the leading causes of bad breath.  So take a swig in between songs to help stave off the “halitosal tendencies.”
  4. Avoid stocking up on the free garlic bread at the Olive Garden before coming to a dance.  All the brushing, gum chewing and hydration in the world won’t win that fight, so choose your pre-dance cuisine wisely.  (Besides, all that garlic bread just takes up space, that could otherwise be filled with pasta)


There is probably more to say regarding the topic of personal hygiene, but this should at least get us going down to the right path towards a happier social dance experience.  My next installment of Making Impressions... will include things like not teaching on the social floor and how many times do you try a move that’s not working before moving on. If you have something to add to help this discussion, please feel free to comment below.