1. We don't endorse the use of force.
Ask the lady to dance with you, don't tell her she is going to dance with you. Grabbing her wrist and urging, "Come on. Just one song" does not fly. If she declines, the best reaction is to acknowledge her choice and walk away. No verbal persuasion, cajoling or physical dragging should be utilized - especially when her boyfriend is around. If she gives the bathroom excuse, do not wait for her outside the bathroom- that is just plain creepy.
2. Ask her twice, she'll turn to ice.
You can ask twice in one night, but not one right after the other. When a song has ended, it is best not to ask her to dance right away. Even if you both seemed to have fun, give it some time and leave her wanting more... that is much better than risking her wanting to push you away.
3. Yakkity Yak? We won't come back.
Leave the chatting to Cathy! Keep talking to a minimum- exchanging names and where you are from at the beginning of the song is fine, but what the ladies don't like is when guys sacrifice the dance itself, and end up doing basic step the whole song while chatting. This comes across as hitting on us.
4. Giving advice is not very nice.
A HUGE dancing no-no is giving lessons on the dance floor. Many guys assume the girl is a beginner (and if she is not, this is extremely insulting) and give her lessons or tips while dancing. Advice has its place...in the studio.
5. Look at her eyes, not at the prize
Maybe the girl is so enthralling (read: hot) you want to gaze into her eyes (or somewhere else) while dancing--but resist this temptation. It comes across as predatorial. Staring at her the entire time without blinking comes across sort of serial killer-ish. On the other hand, too little eye contact comes across as disinterested. Ladies appreciate a lead who makes eye contact now and then, to "check in", or establish a connection. This ensures that both of us are having fun.
6. Hug me too tight, I'll put up a fight
How close is too close? Dancing is in essence a sensual activity, but everyone has their own limits, and crossing them can have negative consequences. Certain types of contact are more personal than others, like touching the face, stomach, or butt. These are areas that you should completely avoid with strangers (and yes, we are aware of the trick where your hands on our back keep getting lower, and lower...we don't like it). Pay attention to the lady's feedback. If her arm is around you on your shoulderblade, it's a good sign. If, however, her left hand has wandered to the FRONT of your shoulder, and she is slightly pushing you away, you are too close.
7. Don't Drink and Dance
One or two drinks is fine, but if we can smell it on your breath, chances are you are sloppier than you think, and might even be more flirtatious than you think. This can affect both dancing skills AND etiquette. Oh, and PLEASE don't spill your drink on the floor!!! (Note: if you have alcohol on your breath and get too close, it sends the message that you only want one thing).
8. It's raining, it's pouring...oh wait...that's your sweat?!
Let's talk about shirts. Some of my male friends bring an extra shirt (or three) when they go out dancing, and the ladies love it! Anyone will appreciate someone who has good hygiene (showers are good, deodorant is good, a little body spray/cologne is nice, onions and B.O. are NOT so good). Axe makes a body spray that can fit in your pocket (or car), which could be handy. Though the girl may not seem to notice, she will subconsciously, and will be much more excited to dance with you again. Guys, you can read Anthony's "The Salsa Axe Effect" for more details.
9. Bumper cars make us see stars
There is no better way to get a girl to leave than letting her get her foot crunched by another girl's heel. "Oh! I'm in pain! I guess I'll have to go sit down..." We know that much is out of your control, and sometimes dance floors get crazy, but just try your best to help us stay safe on the dance floor. If we are bumping into people right and left, we may begin to believe that you are not looking out for us at all. Ladies like to get rescued, right? Well, rescue us from injury with a simple cross body lead away from the potential offender. We appreciate that as a modern form of chivalry.
10. Dancing With The Stars is a show on ABC
Not every lady's dying dream at a club. In fact, too much showing off is a huge turn-off. This includes, but is not limited to: dips, tricks, dancing for your "audience" instead of for/with your partner, and in some locations*, that move in which the guy plants his feet and waits as his partner is expected to "do her thing" (*avoid this if you live anywhere other than Los Angeles). On the flip side, try not to go into autopilot, going through your moves mechanically rather than dancing to the music (we'll get bored). Women REALLY appreciate a good connection when we dance, and if you are showing off for others or on autopilot, we won't feel it. This is an area where you can get major points, regardless of level. Ladies can have a blast with a total beginner if he is into the music, and establishes a good connection during the dance.
Breaking any of these rules of etiquette will increase the probability that you will not get future dances with the girl. Why? She may have misinterpreted your intentions. The important thing is to understand what different behaviors and body language communicate. Since these 10 behaviors are all ways you can possibly offend salseras, it is better to err on the side of caution, and get lots of repeat dances with very satisfied ladies. I recommend getting a group together just like I did and asking them what they think...you might make some interesting discoveries. Follow up with this discussion in the community section...guys, we want your opinions too! What behaviors should the ladies avoid at clubs?
A big thanks to my salsera friends for collaborating! Names will not be posted to protect the innocent. ;-)
Stay tuned for the MALE response: Top behaviors ladies should avoid at the salsa club.