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Recently I started taking dancing lessons with my dancing partner. We enjoy it and also go out together in clubs or bars with a dance floor for practicing what we learned or just for fun. My partner sometimes doesn't like to dance to specific songs while I like to dance to every song just for the challenge. Since there is no romantic relation and we are just out for the dancing purpose I'm quite sure she would be fine if I just prompt someone else if I politely asked her for it.

The problem I see here is, since we are out for dancing together we are dancing most of the time together and even if we take a break we are still staying close. So it might appear most likely that we are a couple.

Concluding, anyone who would even notice me/us, might have this same impression. And being prompted to dance by someone who just went away from his putative girlfriend might come over odd and lead to a decline even if under other circumstances the prompt might be accepted.

So how can I prompt someone in this situation to dance, while clearly verbally or nonverbally expressing my partner is totally fine with that?

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    What type of dancing are you doing? At least in the US there are many partnered dance styles that have no expectation that dance partners will remain partners throughout the night. – sphennings Feb 11 '18 at 3:19
  • @sphennings disco fox. so actually a more modern dance Id say. – dhein Feb 11 '18 at 3:30
  • but this question isnt directly about the expectation transported by the dance and more about possible ways of communicating what I described. since the setting is mostly like discos or bars I think most wont be aware of the meaning of the dance at all and just see a partner like interaction. this might be a culture based assumption or simply a dalse assumption – dhein Feb 11 '18 at 3:37
  • I'm guessing that when you go out it's just the two of you? – apaul Feb 11 '18 at 3:55
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    Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes. – Arwen Undómiel Feb 11 '18 at 9:04
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I am a Swiss male who also likes to dance disco fox in clubs/bars occasionally. I have been in similar situations like you are in now. I usually only do it with my friends with whom I was taking dancing classes with, so I know that they can disco fox.

When we dance, it is not because we have romantic interests - it's just for fun. But as you point out in your question, people don't know that. Partnerdancing in such locations does indeed come across as though you may be partners.

When I see two people dance like that, I am never going to ask the girl for a dance for two reasons.
1) If they are in a relationship, I think it would be quite rude
2) Dancing like that is quite exhausting and they probably want a break.

This is why it is up to YOU to ask strangers for a dance.

But all this is probably not news to you, since you are asking "how do I do that" and not "should I..".


So here are some tips that you should keep in mind for the next time you want to ask a stranger for a dance:

1) "I'm quite sure she would be fine if I just prompt someone else."
Make sure your friend is okay with you dancing with others. Don't just assume - ask her! Discuss the possible outcomes and ask her (and yourself :P) whith which of the outcomes she would be okay with
(partnerdancing with a stranger can be a bonding experience and is considered to be a very attractive feat by many people. It can lead to the new acquaintance wanting to stick with you the rest of the evening)

2) Ask your friend not to stare while you ask strangers for a dance and also while you are dancing.
This is very important to your actual question. The stranger probably has already noticed you two dancing. If your friend is watching / staring at you it implies that she is either your girlfriend or at least interested in you. Not only is this part very crucial, it will also be quite difficult for your friend. As a learning dancer you automatically want to watch other people dance. Explain to your friend why you want her not to watch, it will make it easier for her and it stops her from thinking that you dont want her to watch for other reasons (shame, unspoken feelings, you 'picking up' other girls).

3) When asking people for a dance, be friendly and smile genuinely. Don't ever look at your friend.

4) Not all people can dance disco fox. Since you are a male and therefore in the leading position this is less an obstacle. I have danced with many girls that don't know how to disco fox. If they sound interested but say they can't dance, Ensure them that it is no problem at all and it would be still very fun. If they do not sound/look interested, don't push it and ask another girl.

5) Do not mention your friend at all. Clarifying in any way that she is not your girlfriend would come off a bit strange and she will ask herself what she really is to you.


So how can I prompt someone in this situation to dance, while clearly verbally or nonverbally expressing my partner is totally fine with that?

With the aforementioned points in mind you could approach strangers like this:

"Hey there! [smile, eye contact.]
I noticed you watched me dance before. Would you like to have a go?
[hold out left hand palm up, still smiling]"

She will then most likely glance at your friend. This is why it is crucial for your friend not to stare! If the new acquaintance sees your friend doing something else and not looking at you, it will indicate that your friend is totally fine with what you are doing. (your friend not being in sight would have the same effect)

A more gallant way of asking would be "Would you do me the honor?" instead of "Would you like to have a go?". Of course there are many other variants, you will have to evaluate yourself how exactly you would word your question based on your personality and the type of the disco/bar and the stranger herself.
More important is that you smile genuinely and stay friendly. Eye contact never hurts, too.

sidenote: after reading this again I realized that it could be possible for your friend to actually look, but with a smile! Her smiling would be the ultimate indication of "I'm happy with that".

TL;DR
- make sure your friend is 100% okay with you asking others for a dance
- tell your partner not to watch (or if she does, she should smile)
- simply and friendly ask strangers for a dance
- do not mention your friend

Sorry for the long and sidetracking answer. I hope it helps though ;)

  • 3
    Sorry I had not the time to read it earlier. this are great tips and I see how this will solve the problems that made me worry. Thanks for that. And especially for mentioning the bonding aspect. I made that experience already a few times when it wouldn't have been a problem spending the rest of the night with that person. but here it mit gonna be a problem as I primaly went out to dance with my friend so either one of the 2 might feel left out if I dont make clear before how to handle such an situation with my friend. So thanks for the effort writing this. – dhein Feb 22 '18 at 11:52
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Your assessment that people would likely see you as a couple rings true. Since you are together pretty much the entire time that is a reasonable assumption on their part and as well, most people would not assume that you would likely want to dance continuously with no breaks.

It seems like there would be any number of ways to easily address your desire here. The most obvious would simply be to ask someone else to dance. First, let your regular partner know what you are doing. It shouldn't be much issue as she is your platonic, not romantic friend. Let her know that you'd like to dance more for the experience and so you intend to ask someone else for a dance while she takes a break.

Then simply do so. Get up and ask another girl who seems like she would be interested in dancing as well e.g. someone that is watching dancers, paying attention, perhaps swaying a bit to the rhythm would probably like to dance.

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One thing which would help if it's possible (which it may not be) would be to go in a larger group. Is there another (non-romantic) couple from the lessons whom you could go dancing with? If so, by swapping partners for some dances you can send a non-verbal cue to people who are watching you that none of the party is fixed on one partner.

(As an aside, since you mention having a dancing partner but don't say how the lessons are structured, I'm assuming that you do swap around within the lessons and so that dynamic would automatically be present when you transpose to a different setting. If you don't, and need to persuade the others of the value of it, it's not good to always dance with the same person because you learn to compensate for the other's errors. Swapping partners is a good way to find out that you and the other lead, or your partner and the other follower, do something differently, and if you can't figure out who's right then you can ask your teacher).


Another simple way to communicate a slight separation is to increase the level of etiquette. (Depending on the current level this may be something you should talk about with your partner first, so that they don't feel offended). Simply thank her for dancing, either after each dance or when she indicates that she wants to sit the next one out. If you can arrange to finish the dance within earshot of the person you were thinking of asking to dance next, so much the better.

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