Dance Etiquette

North Bay Country Dance Society (NBCDS) is an all-inclusive dance community committed to providing a fun and safe environment for everyone. Please take a minute to look over the following suggestions we adopted from CDNY to help ensure everyone has a good time.

And here is a copy of our Code of Conduct.


Anyone may ask anyone to dance. The tradition in both contra and English country dance is to change partners for each dance. We especially encourage folks to ask dancers who have been sitting out, and experienced dancers to ask new dancers, so that everyone gets a chance to dance.

People of any gender may dance either role, or both.  If you know how to dance one role and want to learn the other, plenty of folks in the hall will be happy to partner with you and help you out. Dance with whoever comes at you. Don’t assume that the role someone is dancing is based on their gender presentation.

You are always free to say no when someone asks you to dance.  You don’t have to give a reason; you can just say “No, thank you.” If you ask someone to dance and they say “No,” take it gracefully and move on.

Communicate your needs to your partner so they know how to give you the most comfortable dance.  You can always speak up if a dancer is doing anything that makes you uncomfortable: for example, “Please swing slower,” or, “I’d like your hand a little higher.” If you feel especially uneasy or unable to communicate such an issue with your partner, please seek out a board member or the dance manager—we are here to help!


Don’t fret if your hands-­four gets mixed up.  Smile and use clear gestures to help our new dancers through the dance. If you’re really mixed up, just take a beat to think about where you need to be to dance with the next couple, move there, and wait for them to come to you

Use gestures and physical demonstrations to show new dancers how something works, and keep verbal instructions to a minimum—it’s hard for newer dancers to listen to you, the caller, and the music all at the same time!  If you notice that your partner or neighbors are struggling, try to get in position for the next move early so they know where they need to go next.

Experienced dancers are always welcome at beginners’ lessons to help show newcomers the ropes; so if you feel like showing up early, please do join us! It’s a great way to introduce new dancers to our community and help them pick up contra or English country as quickly as possible.

Refrain from twirls, spins, and other flourishes with newer partners; fancy add-ons can be disorienting, and may slow the learning process for those newer to contra. Please make sure new dancers have a solid base for understanding contra dance before adding any extras. Remember that new dancers are often dizzy their first couple of dances, twirling and fast swings only makes them more so.


Both contra and English country dance involve close physical contact. Please follow these guidelines to assure everyone feels comfortable and safe.

Be sensitive to the safety of your fellow dancers. Never force a partner to twirl or jerk a partner’s hand, arm or shoulder. Always ask your partner if it is ok, before doing your own special swing move, twirl or dip.

Dance conservatively with anyone you don’t know well.  Execute the moves the traditional way until you have developed a rapport and you know personal preferences for flourishes.  Remember that your partner’s comfort zone may be different than yoursRespect others’ personal dance space, do not dance too close or insist on eye contact.  (The tradition in English country dance is a bit different in that eye contact is encouraged and there is usually more physical space between partners.)

Please be thoughtful in your hygiene and do not wear scented products.  Some dancers are hypersensitive or allergic to highly scented products such as perfume, aftershave, etc,. and others react to odors such as spices, onions, garlic or body odor.


Respect our dance halls.  Wear shoes with clean, soft soles.  No drinks or food are allowed on the dance floor.

Pay attention to the caller during a walk though. Even if you do not need to hear the walk through, allow others to learn.

Please thank the band and caller.  Each week we are honored to have live music and experienced callers.

If you ever have an unpleasant or difficult experience at a dance, please let us know.  Every dance has a manager present, and most dances have a suggestion box if you prefer to remain anonymous.  We want our dances to be enjoyable and safe for everyone.