by Mike Bello
You've waited all day to get your groove on to salsa music.
You're finally dancing and, CRUNCH, someone steps on your foot.
Moments later, CRASH, your partner is body-slammed by another "dancer."
Not too much later, OOF, you get an elbow in your ribs.
By this time you're wondering, "What the heck ever happened to dance floor etiquette?" when all of a sudden, POW, you're struck in the back by someone doing a wild spin.
Does any of the above sound familiar?
Should you give up dancing and join the World Wrestling Federation?
Well, there are several things that you can do to experience a safer dance experience.
In New York, I learned early that you have to practice defensive dancing.
Just like when you learn to drive, dancing requires a better sense of the dance floor, in general, than just blindly going out to dance.
Now, granted, this is primarily suited for leaders.
That's right, fellas, it is really your responsibility to ensure that you provide the safest dance environment for your partner.
But for those leaders who don't realize this point then it's up to the followers that know to point out any apparent or inherent "dangers" on the dance floor.
One of the best ways to avoid a lot of the pain is to not go towards the center of the dance floor.
Think about it: You are surrounded by potential haymakers and foot-stompers!
A great way to diffuse this circumstance is to pick a spot at the edge of the dance floor...yeah, the sidelines!
Once you're there you have effectively eliminated at least 25% of any prospective problems in collision and the like.
To maximize the safety of your partner, and yourself, be sure that both of you are parallel with the dance floor's edge.
If the follower still seems to be on the receiving end of a bit more hits then try dancing perpendicular with the follower at the edge of the dance floor.
An even better tip is to find a corner and stay there for the duration of the song!
You can eliminate from 50% to 75% of possible harm depending on how you manage your dancing in the corner.
This is not the only technique in helping to have a closer to pain-free experience as you can find.
Much can be said on plain old watchful dancing.
Remember the defensive driving statement above?
Being on the lookout can go a long way.
Leaders must always watch not only where they are going but where others may be going in relation to your partnering.
You must be able to anticipate what can be coming your way.
That includes looking behind you, especially if you intend to send your partner in that direction.
Another way to ensure that you have nearly no physical interruptions in your dancing from others is to dance away from the dance floor.
Many venues have areas where a limited amount of dancing can be done.
Sometimes between tables and near the bar can be very agreeable in having a good time dancing with little or no disruptions.
Be careful, though, since many times the flooring usually is not optimum for dancing and can be a problem for the knees.
So, if you ever see me dancing, most times you'll see me on the sidelines or even in a corner. Not a bad place to be!