A Groovy Guide to Dancefloor Etiquette

Rear shot of woman on someone's shoulders raising her left hand in the crowd. Likely "throwing her hands in the air" and waving them like she just don't care. But it looks a though she has a question in class.
Please hold all questions until the end of class 😉
Photo by Amanda Papandrea

Dance floors at festivals are magical realms where music, energy, and movement collide to create a truly unique experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned festival-goer or a first-timer, navigating the dance floor with grace and respect for those around you is essential for everyone to enjoy the festivities to the fullest. In this guide, we’ll explore some key tips and etiquette to ensure you make the most of your time on the dance floor while fostering a positive atmosphere for all.

Before we dive in, remember that this is not an extensive list, and each gathering or event is different. However, a good rule of thumb is to practice the rave ethos of P.L.U.R., or peace, love, unity, and respect. 

1. Respect Personal Space

Heart hands foregrounding the picture in the middle of nighttime dancefloor.
Photo by Kris Kish

One of the cardinal rules of festival dance floor etiquette is respecting personal space. While it’s natural to get caught up in the music and lose yourself in the crowd, it’s important to be mindful of those around you.

Avoid invading someone else’s space or dancing too close to them without their consent. Give others ample room to move and express themselves freely without feeling crowded or uncomfortable. 

Make sure to say excuse me when you’re passing through people in the crowd and don’t just push people out of your way. If you’re looking to “ride the rail,” or be at the very front by the stage, it’s best to ask people around you and don’t just shove them as they may have been waiting there for hours to see their favorite artist up close.

2. Be Mindful of Movement

Dancing at a festival often involves a variety of movements, from jumping and twirling to shuffling and swaying. However, it’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings and adjust your movements accordingly. Avoid flailing your limbs or making sudden, erratic movements that could accidentally collide with others.

Instead, strive for fluidity and control in your dancing while remaining mindful of the space you occupy. It’s also a great mindfulness and moving meditation practice to be fully aware of your own body and your surroundings at all times!

Two women dancing with a light glare shining through them. Their movement is captured in a deliberate and mindful glow.
Photo by Tanya Nesta

3. Practice Good Hygiene

With large crowds and hours of dancing, festivals can quickly become hot and sweaty environments. Practicing good hygiene not only benefits you but also those around you on the dance floor. While showering every day at festival is sometimes challenging, there are still basic hygiene practices that can help keep everyone safe and healthy.

  • Consider bringing along items like hand sanitizer, deodorant, and refreshing wipes to stay clean and fresh throughout the day. Additionally, if you’re feeling particularly sweaty, consider stepping off the dance floor briefly to cool down and freshen up before returning. 
  • If you need to sneeze or cough, do so into your elbow or handkerchief, and consider wearing a mask to prevent the spread of wook flu.
  • Practicing good hygiene also means not smoking on the dance floor. I know, it’s a festival and people want to be free. However, second-hand smoke is non-consensual, and is a leading cause of cancer! If you need a smoke, it’s a great opportunity to take a quick break and smoke away from the crowd.
Man on right with his hand gently on shoulder of man on left. Photo displays respect and awareness between the two.
Photo by Amanda Papandrea

4. Embrace Diversity

Festival dance floors are melting pots of people from all walks of life, each bringing their unique style and energy to the mix. Embrace this diversity and celebrate the differences that make the experience so enriching. 

  • Avoid judgment or negativity towards others based on their appearance, dance style, or background. Avoid wearing derogatory costumes or practicing dance moves that appropriate cultures that you are not a part of.  Instead, focus on connecting with fellow dancers through the universal language of music and movement.

Embracing diversity also means being inclusive and accomodating to all types of bodies. If you are taller than the people behind you, consider moving so they can see the stage. Respect ADA platforms by not obstructing their view with totems. Only go on an ADA platform if you have a disability or are accompanying someone who does.

5. Offer Help When Needed

In the midst of the excitement, it’s not uncommon for someone to stumble or need assistance on the dance floor.

Two men joining hards together to make a heart.
Photo bye Harrison Weinberg

If you notice someone in need, whether they’ve tripped or seem unwell, offer your help or alert festival staff if necessary.

Remember, festivals are communal experiences, and looking out for one another fosters a sense of unity and solidarity among attendees.

Large crowds can become recipe for disaster in the events of evacuations or panic, so make sure to remain calm and be aware of your surroundings at all times if anything happens.

6. Respect the Vibe

Every festival and dance floor has its own unique vibe and energy, influenced by factors like the music, crowd, and atmosphere. Pay attention to the overall vibe and adjust your behavior accordingly. If the mood is more laid-back and chill, avoid overly aggressive or disruptive dancing that could disrupt the flow.

Attendees at the front of a stage at gate. Smiling faces and happy participants. Respecting the vibe.
Photo by Tanya Nesta

Conversely, if the energy is high and electric, feel free to let loose and dance with unrestrained enthusiasm, while still being respectful of those around you. Use common sense… moshing respectfully makes sense when you see others doing it. It may fit the vibe of a dubstep show, but not a reggae performance.

Mastering festival dance floor etiquette is about more than just busting out your best moves – it’s about creating a positive and inclusive environment where everyone can let loose and have a great time. Festival environments can be full of energy and are sometimes even overwhelming. By practicing dance floor etiquette, you make the experience safer and more enjoyable for everyone.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *