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Dance Etiquette FAQ

Welcome to OSDS!

Here are a few things you might have questions about or should know about if you come to one of our dances. In addition to this, please make sure to read our Safety policy before attending OSDS events. Thank you!

Who can attend?

Everybody is welcome! Please be advised that there are several flights of stairs to get to the basement of the church where the dance is taking place. We offer one free entry to one child 14 years old or under for every paying adult.

Do I need to bring a partner?

You do not. We do rotation during our classes and we encourage you to dance with as many people as possible during the evening. Remember to ask people to dance and if they say no to move on. It is their right, and yours too!

What should I bring?

  • A pair of clean, indoor shoes (to protect our dance floor) that are unlikely to fly off your feet. Our floor is pretty slippery but if it’s very hot and humid out, we suggest bringing shoes with slippery soles.
  • A towel and/or a change of shirt if you sweat a lot.
  • A reusable water bottle (if you forget it, we sell bottled water for 1$).
  • Breath mints or gum can be useful.
  • A hand fan if you have one.
  • Some friends if you want and your awesome self!


What should I wear?

Some people dress up, especially on special occasions like the anniversary dance, and some people wear jeans and a t-shirt. What is most important is to be able to comfortably move and sweat a bit in what you wear. We recommend not wearing clothing, or jewelry, that dangles too much as you could hit yourself or your partner while dancing.

We recommend showering, wearing deodorant and wearing clean clothes before the dance. However, please refrain from wearing scented products as they can cause allergies.

Please do not wear stilettos as they can damage the floor and really hurt if you step on someone foot. If you are not already used to dancing in heels, we suggest wearing flat or very low heels to start.

Some people who wear dresses or skirts like to wear shorts underneath.

Feel free to bring extra clothes - and shoes - to change into at the dance in case you are feeling uncomfortable and/or want to stay dry! 


What can I expect?

Classes

If you take the classes, expect rotations and dancing with everyone in the class. If it happens that you don’t want to dance with someone in the rotation, step out of the circle and wait for the next rotation while practicing the moves by yourself. After each rotation, introduce yourself and wait until it’s time to dance to touch your partner. If it is an ambi class (where everyone learns to lead and follow at the same time), ask your partner which role they'd like to do first. After the class, don’t hesitate to ask your classmates, your teachers and other people to dance. Dancing with as many different people as possible is the best way to improve!

Social dancing

Consent is important in our community - as you can see in our Safety, Consent and Inclusion policy. We encourage everyone to dance with as many people, of whatever gender, as possible but:

  1. Make sure to always ask a specific person to dance (no grabbing people and dragging them to the dance floor).
  2. If the person says no, accept it graciously and ask someone else.
  3. Everyone has the right to say no, and we don’t have to state a reason.
  4. Every move is an invitation, not an order. You can stop or change a move or a hold that feels uncomfortable or unsafe to you. At any moment. Be attentive to your partner and if they look uncomfortable, check in with them.
  5. Do not bring people in close embrace unless you know it is ok with them.

In our scene, we encourage people to dance with whomever they want, regardless of gender, and also to dance solo, by themselves or as part of a little solo jam if others want to join in the solo dancing fun! Don’t ask people to dance while they are doing this - they are already dancing.

Floorcraft: it is the capacity to dance while not stepping or bumping into each other. It is everyone’s responsibility and it’s especially important when:

  • Stepping, kicking, and walking backwards.
  • Sending someone or being sent in open position (away from your partner).
  • The dance floor is very crowded.
  • You see someone getting too close or coming at you and your partner.

Accidents do happen so make sure to apologize if it’s the case and ensure the other person is okay. In cases of serious injury, please notify an exec member or SCI volunteer!

Mob dances: If you stick around long enough, you will learn several solo mob dances, some that exists since the 1930s! At OSDS, we do the Shim Sham every Friday night. It’s usually danced on the song “T’ain’t what you do” so when it stats playing you’ll see a swarm of dancers invading the dance floor in rows, getting ready to dance it. Feel free to just sit and watch, or get up and try to do it just by looking at the others doing it - that’s how we learn! The end involves people partnering up so if you don’t want to do that part feel free to say so or simply walk off the dance floor. Some other mob dances that the DJs sometime play include the Big Apple, the Trankey Doo, and the Mama stew but there are a few more.

Jams: At OSDS, once per night, we do a jam. It’s first for people celebrating their birthday (usually in the same week) but you can also go in if you are visiting from out of town, celebrating an important event or leaving for/coming back from a long vacation. The people celebrating go inside a circle formed by the other dancers and people try to “steal a dance” with them (they are often called steal jams for that reason). You do not have to participate inside the jam but it’s always nice to at least be around the circle clapping. If you do participate, it's good to observe how it's done before jumping in. First, please be careful not to hurt anyone when trying to steal a dance. Second, it’s customary to wait two eights of music before stealing. Being able to count musical phrases can take some time so just make sure to not steal a dance right after someone did it. Third, consent is not as obvious here because people being jammed do not get to choose who steals a dance with them. Being mindful of that, do not use this opportunity to dance with someone who you know does not want to dance with you - for example, because of a personal conflict or because they have said no to you earlier that evening.

At the end of a dance: it is custom to thank your partner if all went well. If you had a great time, feel free to let them know! In our dance scene, when you ask a person to dance, you are asking for one song. If you'd like to dance with them again, ask them for a second dance. Do not hold on to your partner and assume that they will keep dancing with you. 


Is there alcohol at the venue?

No. OSDS is a dry environment. If you show up intoxicated, or you drink at the venue, you will be asked to leave.


What else should I know?

  • Everyone has different boundaries, capacities and limits, and they should be respected. Never force your partner to do something that makes them uncomfortable. Make sure to read the Safety policy if you haven’t already.

  • Everyone has different level of dancing experience. When you don’t know the level of your partner, it is always best to start with basic moves, and then, as you get to know each other, you can introduce different moves that will fit with your partnership. The most important is to ensure your partner feels comfortable, safe and has fun.
  • If you’d like to chat with people, please do it off the dance floor. We have plenty of space with tables and chairs just for that, where you can leave your effects and water bottle to avoid spills on the dance floor.
  • Band and DJ etiquette: When there is a band night, take a moment to clap at the end of every song. When it's a night of DJed music, take a moment to applaude them at the end of their set. If you really enjoyed the band or the DJ set, make a point of telling them after a set or after the dance. If you have any complaints about the band or the DJ, in terms of music choice, speed, length of songs, etc, please bring those concerns to one of the exec members, not to the band or DJ. But remember that we try to have music which appeals to a wide variety of people, so something that doesn’t appeal to you may still be a good choice for our dance scene.
  • Please refrain from teaching or giving unsolicited feedback or advice on other people’s dancing - except if you are worried someone will get hurt of course!


We hope that we’ve created an environment where you’ll be attentive to others’ comfort and safety, and where you’ll feel free to speak up if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. If you find that you can’t speak up - or you have and it didn’t go well - please talk to a SCI volunteer or a member of the executive committee and they will assist you.

We want everyone to take care of each other, feel comfortable, safe and have a good time!

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