Unfortunately for me, I am a guy who does not like to dance. I am bad at it (at best). So I try to shy away from circumstances where I would be asked by someone to dance.

But there are times when that it is relatively unavoidable, like at a wedding. I was at an event that I attended alone, and people were dancing to good music. A woman came up to me and asked me if I wanted to dance. The awkwardness I felt is hard to put into words, since I felt my refusing would hurt her feelings. And what made it worse is that I really would have enjoyed spending time with her both at this event, and even afterwards. I have been wondering ever since what I could have done to make it work better for both of us.

So how does one refuse to dance with a woman who is just trying to be nice, but without hurting her feelings?

  • 7
    I would say "I'm very bad at it." But then she might say it's fine, and I don't know if you would be okay with that response.
    – Vylix
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 16:35
  • @Vylix Yeah, I needed to refuse to dance. No getting around it.
    – John
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 16:40
  • 1
    I usually get around this issue by volunteering to be the DJ at smaller events...
    – gparyani
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 16:37
  • Would it be inappropriate to ask here how one might go about declining when you actually CAN dance but am just very shy? This is a problem I run into but it seems daft to open up a whole other question for what is mostly the same thing.
    – user9711
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 15:45
  • 1
    @KevinWells Your point is well taken. It would help all of us with this challenge. I have tried this, and I have concluded that I am just naturally bad at it. I agree that it can only help -- and it has a very little bit in my case. Now that it is much later, I think my best approach back then should have been to take a "sense of humor approach", and just own it. She: "Do you want to dance?" Me: "Sure, I'm up for a laugh. I hope you are too." If we have a chance at being together, she will laugh with me. From hindsight at least, it would have been worth the risk of simply being laughed at.
    – John
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 20:49

2 Answers 2


"No thanks, I'm not much of a dancer. Would you like to grab a drink with me instead?"

Honest is a good way to go. Decline, state the reason, and offer an alternative. It also makes it clear that you're not rejecting her, and makes a counter offer if she really wants to get to know you.

  • I think the only risk with this answer is it may inspire "you don't have to be good" as a response. I might just change that part to "I don't enjoy dancing" instead.
    – Forklift
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 14:59
  • 5
    I've used this in the past, and must say, it works wonders, but I would also add a little something. You want to come off as confident, just not about dancing, if you aren't much of a dancer. So maybe I'd try more along the lines of "You know, I never really learned how to dance, but let's grab a drink, and if you still really want to dance, I might just let you teach me."
    – AHamilton
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 15:01

As someone who dances socially every week, in that situation I would say:

I'm a bit tired right now but I'd love a chat.

They can then choose to chat with you if they want, or they'll find other people to dance with.

When someone asks you to dance, they're asking you to be responsible for their safety. You have to be able to watch what's behind your partner so no-one walks into your space, but if I'm tired and they stumble over something and break an arm, I would feel that's my fault for not turning down the dance.

Whatever the real reason is for turning down a dance is your business, no one can force you to dance.

  • 2
    "When someone asks you to dance. they're asking you to be responsible for their safety" What are you basing that off of?
    – JMac
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 11:51
  • You can read the updated answer for my response. The OP is asking how to avoid a dance. If you say it's unsafe to dance even if thats not true and the lady disagrees then you should walk away as they don't care about anyone elses safety.
    – drawde83
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 4:12
  • 6
    That must be pretty cultural then. If I told someone I didn't want to dance because it's "unsafe", they would look at me like I'm crazy. There's generally a very low safety risk to dancing. Insisting that you dance wouldn't be seen as a safety issue by most people where I'm from at least.
    – JMac
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 11:40
  • @JMac: At least ballroom dance can be practised as a sport, and as such can be pretty athletic (if you want to). In that context, dancing while tired can indeed be unsafe. However, in a social context most dancers would not dance that vigorously.
    – sleske
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 8:39

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