For the men:
- Be a strong leader. This doesn't mean toss your dance partner around to show her who's boss. This means decide what move you're going to do and lead her into that move. (It doesn't matter if it's the wrong move, just be decisive about it.)
- Don't try to pull a fast one on your dance partner. That's just a jackass move. When you try tricking your partner, you make your partner lose faith in your ability to lead and she'll start back leading.
- If you have sweaty palms, wipe them off before you take your partner's hands. (This applies for the ladies as well.) If you're handling food or whatever before dancing, wash your hands or wipe them off before you invite the lady to dance. I had a rash on my hands from something someone handled before they touched my hands yesterday. Yuck.
- When you have the moves down, try some eye contact and polite conversation. (This may not work so well in a class situation because you are there to learn the moves so it becomes effortless. Class is the place for effort.)
- Compliment your partner for moves that were well executed, when appropriate. At the very least, thank your partner for the dance.
- Be relaxed, confident, and fun. It should be a pleasure to dance with you.
For the ladies:
- Follow his lead, no matter how logical the moves are in the sequence. It is a social dance, not a stage performance. If he runs you into another couple, politely mention that you can't see them through the back of your head.
- Wipe off those sweaty hands!
- When you know your dance partner isn't going to charge you backwards into the punch bowl, try some eye contact and polite conversation. You don't have to think of what move will come next in the sequence, so you get to ask how the weather is and how about the baseball team.
- Compliment your partner for great leading, when appropriate. Be sure to thank him for the dance.
- Be relaxed, interested, and fun. Don't try to be a difficult dance partner.
I don't like dancing with a partner who needs constant reassurances, who tells me I'm doing it all wrong when he's supposed to lead me into the moves, who won't look at me at all during the course of the dance, who looks miserable, who tries to get the dance done faster than everyone else and the rhythm of the music allows, who isn't having a good time. I want it to be fun.
Of course, I'd get all starry-eyed when my perfect dance partner would rotate back to me in class. Even if we both screw up, we can laugh about it. The dance is full of big smiles and pleasant conversation ... and talk of incorporating the moves into future choreography.