Promoted from Comments at Johanna's. I think what I'm going to say also makes sense if you are a man and it is a woman committing the outrageous gaffe of unsolicited instruction on the dancefloor. But no doubt the ball-carrying bloggers will give their own advice.
Tassili said: I have in mind a particular leader who always "instructs" his partners - as a result, we all tend to dread the experience. I don't know if there is way to convey "please, stop intructing, just dance" gracefully?
This is the number one situation in which my prickles go up, and they go up super sharp. How do you say "Shut up and dance?".
I think there's no point in trying too hard to be graceful. When someone is is foolish enough to do this, it is an emergency, and clarity comes first.
This is how I raise the prickles:
- Complete, strict, silence. Immediate radical change of expression. Total disappearance of smile and facial response. Verge-of-tears look, if it comes naturally. This will usually cause him to stop talking and lead something else, in which case, fine.
- If he continues talking when you're standing still, or actually stops dancing so he can instruct you, say: "I beg your pardon?" to the tune of "did you really just instruct a lady on the dancefloor? I can't believe that a man of your age and intelligence would so far forget himself as to do such a thing. I must have misheard."
- If it continues, calmly remark "I don't respond well to advice while I'm dancing socially." This step is optional. Only use it if it fits you. It will sometimes elicit "I'm only trying to give a little help", in which case, say "I would prefer it if you didn't." I prefix this with "Nevertheless," but that might be taking it a little far.
- If it still continues, say: "Shall we go on?" to the tune of "if I'm not good enough for you, you can opt out right now and I shan't be offended", and clarifying with gestures towards the seating if you have to. Of course this bit only makes sense mid-tanda. If it's the end, just say thank-you and sit down.
- If you get an apology or backtracking, accept it nicely, but without responding to the content of what was said.
- Remind yourself again that you will never, ever, instruct someone on the dance floor, no matter how terrible they are.
It's very important to this technique that you don't engage at all with the content of the instruction, even in (5). The content is not the point. The point is that whatever it is, it's out of place in social dancing. That's the idea that needs to get across, not a reaction to the content.
This doesn't happen to me very often, now - I daresay word has got about - but last Friday, (1) worked perfectly. I'd really been enjoying the dance till it happened. We both were. He immediately stopped doing it, apologised at the end of the dance, and said he'd felt the connection was so good he could talk. I said "It's not recommended. I don't respond well to it." He understood, I'm sure it won't happen again, and I'm looking forward to dancing with him more.
If you are a very recent beginner, or less in touch with your inner Lady Bracknell than I am, pretending with a smile that you can't hear what he's saying over the music does also work and is a very safe alternative. Just don't reply or ask questions, because it only encourages them.
But if dancing with someone is not fun, there's no point in killing yourself trying not to offend them. Never be abusive, but self-defence is fine.
Notes: remarks between friends may be different; two words of urgently needed information to the early beginner, delivered with a smile, may be different. But generally speaking, it's not a good idea.