Salsa Etiquette: Why You Shouldn’t Dip Your Dance Partners

In Richie’s post on God Awful Dancers – which is a rather entertaining and worthwhile read – he mentions “The Screamer” who unexpectedly pierces your ears as soon as you do a dip. The fact is, nobody should ever meet The Screamer and she shouldn’t have been dipped in the first place. So, to avoid such embarrassments and do a service for all salsa men and women going forward, I’ve compiled the following wisdom on dipping etiquette.

Dipping looks great, it’s sexy, the pros do it, but you probably shouldn’t.

Every beginner salsa dancer romanticizes about giving or receiving that perfect sexy dip on a horn hit or to finish off a perfect dance. After all, it’s what we’ve seen so many times before. But there’s more to it than just to do it. Does your partner want one? Can you give one? Should you give one?

When it comes to dipping on the social dance floor, you’ll find that followers have all sorts of mixed feelings towards the act – some love it, some hate it and some are just plain scared of it (see The Screamer, mentioned above).

Dips can be sexy and dips can be fun, but when dips cause a broken nose, dislocated vertebrae or neck strain, they aren’t so cool anymore and they leave your partner in bad health.

Leads, your partner’s safety is your responsibility.

As the leader of the dance, the ball is in your court to make sure your partner has a comfortable and enjoyable experience. This includes knowing if dipping is on the menu or not. If you’re considering a dip or you’re someone who regularly whips your partners down into dips, check yourself…

  • Does your partner have the technical ability to be dipped safely?
  • Do you know how to dip properly and safely?
  • Does your partner trust you, a stranger?
  • Is there enough space on the dance floor?
  • Are there other couples around that could hit your partner?
  • Does your partner have an injury that might flare up?
  • Is your partner ready to expose what’s under that really nice dress?
  • Did you ask your partner if they’re okay with dips?

There are very few leads who go through that checklist before dipping, but you can be one of those awesome ones who doesn’t flash the crowd, tweak your partner’s spine, break a nose or make followers scream. Great opportunity to stand out, right?

There Are Exceptions

Naturally, there are some followers out there that love to be dipped! That said, the point of this post is to bring about awareness that not all followers desire to be dipped and that it’s a sensitive subject.

If you know your partner is game and you’re making an informed decision after mentally going through the above checklist (man, dipping is a lot of work, huh?), then here’s what to do next…

Guidelines To Follow Once You Know Dipping Is Okay

1) Consider your partner’s skill level and physical condition

Every follow comes with a different body type, set of abilities, strength, and coordination. Sticking to basic dips is best, especially with beginners. Leave advanced dips to when you’re dancing with a pro.

You might also like Dear Leads, Please Dance To My Level

2) Be aware of your surroundings

If it’s a crowded dance floor and there’s other couples around that’s danger zone red. It’s one thing if you can control yourself, but there’s no way to control what everyone else around you is doing. Make sure you have enough space and there’s no chance of a collision.

Check out How To Avoid Collisions On The Dance Floor

3) If you must dip, do it gently

There’s no need to be aggressive or a show-off. A dip can be simple, small, gentle and enjoyable all at the same time. Save your tricks for a performance.

There you have it, some simple guidelines to avoid hurting or scaring your friends on the dance floor. They’ll surely come in handy if you plan on showing up to the same party twice. Word of mouth travels fast amongst followers, especially when weirdos and rough or unpleasant partners are involved.

Have a dipping nightmare or fairy tale that just needs to be shared? Do tell! We all love stories, so indulge us in the comments section below.

Enjoyed this article and want more dance etiquette tips? Read Are You Sure You’ve Never Made Your Dance Partner Uncomfortable?

Enjoy this post and want to learn more? Try a sample lesson from our progressive On1 and On2 salsa curriculum taught by Canadian Salsa Champs Patrick and Scarlet at
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