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Auntie SparkNotes: What Are The Rules Of Dance Etiquette?

Auntie SparkNotes: What Are The Rules Of Dance Etiquette?

Hi Auntie,

What is the etiquette for a school dance? My brother and I have been homeschooled our entire lives, so the only dancing we have ever done was at weddings, the homeschool prom, and our awesome English Country Dancing group (think Jane Austen). However, he went to college this year, went to a dance during orientation, and ended up with a harassment charge and threatened arrest.

The situation was cleared up and nothing bad happened, but we're still not sure what the hell happened. Needless to say, my brother has sworn off dances and I'm a bit scared now since I'll be going to college next year and will probably end up going to a dance or two. How do I not end up in the same situation that my brother did?

Hmm. HMMMM. Well, okay: for starters, that thing he did? Whatever it was? Don't do that.

And despite the weird and enticing mystery at hand—What the hell happened? It makes no sense!—I hope you realize that it's not actually a mystery to your brother. Even if he thinks it was ridiculous, and even if she was wildly overreacting to a minor misunderstanding, and even if he'd rather stay home from dances forever lest he risk a repeat performance of this Crazy Drama, he still knows perfectly well what went down between him and this girl... including what part he played, if any.

Which I say not to cast aspersions on your beloved big bro—if he's confused and embarrassed and doesn't want to talk about this, he's allowed—but because you need to realize that in all but the most extreme situations (i.e. those involving people who are actively hallucinating, delusional, or otherwise utterly detached from reality), whether or not you get charged with harassment depends pretty much entirely on, y'know, whether or not you harass someone. And as for that, all it takes is the teensiest bit of self-awareness and a willingness to follow these Useful Guidelines for Non-Creepy Dance Behavior:

-Be respectful: don't push closer to someone who looks uncomfortable, or follow someone who keeps moving away from you, or repeatedly ask someone to dance after they've said no. (Also, if your dance partner mentions a boyfriend/girlfriend, back off.)
-Don't get sexy or grabby with anyone unless they're enthusiastically initiating that kind of contact.
-When in doubt, ask. It takes only a second to make sure you're in the clear by getting an affirmative response to "Wanna dance?"
-And finally, and most importantly: no matter how exciting the party is, do not, under any circumstances, rub your tumescent wang against any part of any person who has not explicitly asked you to.

Adhere to the above, and you'll be safely within the bounds of non-threatening dance behavior—not to mention those of good taste—and you need never worry again about repeating your brother's mysterious error.

Whatever it was.

Seriously, a hint? Please? I'M DYING HERE.

Got any guidelines for good dance behavior? Share 'em in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at

Topics: Advice
Tags: etiquette, auntie sparknotes, dances, dancing, mysteries, harassment, homeschool

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Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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