I Keep Screwing Up My Social Dances, What Should I Do?

So you mess up. Big deal. It happens to all of us and it happens all the time. If you’re new to social dancing, you’re probably more nervous than the rest of us, but you’ve got to get used to making mistakes. It’s completely normal and very forgivable.

How you deal with your mess ups is what really matters.

Whether you’re nervous, forgetful, having a bad day, unable to keep up with the music, or dancing above your level, the answers to your question are the same.

What to Do When Things Get Ugly

Keep it simple! Leads, tone things down a notch and stick to the moves you know by heart. Social dancing isn’t a time to practice the hardest steps you know and get tangled up in a knot. It’s time for a mutually enjoyable experience between two partners. If a step or pattern doesn’t work, don’t force it.

Ladies, forget your “sexy styling” and focus on your partner. The lead is giving you signals and you better make sure you are interpreting them correctly. If you’re off in your own world trying to look like a dancing queen, you’re going to make the leads job a whole lot harder.

Dance to slower music. If you can’t keep rhythm to fast songs, don’t social dance to them. Practice on your own time until you feel confident upping the pace. After all, if you’re not dancing on beat to the music, are you really dancing?

Focus on your fundamentals:


  • Show clear intention with the initiation of your lead.
  • Give clear hand gestures when you are asking for the follow’s hand
  • Understand what your body language is communicating to the follow
  • Maintain your frame and posture
  • Dance on the rails. If you’re in front of her, she can’t travel down her line of dance


  • Use a progressive Basic Step when you have room. The lead should be indicating how far he wants you to travel
  • Step forwards, not backwards
  • Maintain your swivels in your Basic Step
  • Maintain your frame and posture

Laugh it off. When something goes awry, make the best of the situation. Smile, laugh, joke and be merry. It’s all about having fun anyways.

What Not To Do

Don’t stop dancing or begin apologizing profusely. Tough it out and commit to finishing the dance. Nobody wants to hear you say “Sorry!” 100 times either. Your partner knows a mistake was made and they’re over it. Don’t dwell on the negative. Move forward and use the suggestions above to improve your dance.

Over to you

Have an awkward social dance story where 101 things went wrong? What did you do to turn things around?