Mary has made some very valid points.  It would be good to emphasize that this is a dance "community", and that all people should be respectful of others.  Many dancers take a "no" as a personal rejection and perhaps even as disrespectful.  This tends to hurt the community as a whole and often leads to cliques.  My thought is that dancers should have a reason for saying no, but that reason need not be vocalized.   

As an older dancer, most of the rejections I experience are from much younger ladies that do not know me yet.  I tend to want to help newer dancers with their skills, and have made many new dance friends this way.  I handle most rejections by remembering that many other dances seek me out as a partner.

To summarize, two people are involved in a dance request, and the response should keep that in mind.

On Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 11:17 AM, Mary Collins via Callers <> wrote:
coming late also here, Dale, so stealing your "lesson" comments.  We usually don't directly address the refusal part of the equation as we are so short of dancers, it's usually exhaustion that sits us out! lol...saying that...we do encourage new dancers to ask anyone (esp. those that look like they know what they are doing) to dance.  Our regular dancers are always eager to bring them into the experience for which I am grateful.  The "old" rule used to apply and several years ago, we had a very upset dancer who left and never returned because someone turned him down and then danced with someone else.  This particular dancer it was found, had some mental health issues, along with size and ability issues as well and took the refusal very personally. 

In the CDSS callers' course we discussed this and it was mentioned that saying no, needs no explanation.  Now, as a large woman (who,it has been noted by another dancer as"...very light on your feet") I often get no's.  I try to ignore this and not take it personally, however, it often comes to mind as I sit out more and more.  Age and size do matter, unfortunately.  As we become more inclusive in our dance culture we tend to forget those of us who raised you and brought you into this wonderful world of dance and community.  So if there is a kind, gentle way to remind dancers to ask ANYone to dance, and to accept the invitation (if so desired) regardless of dancer appearance or possible experience then I am all for it.  Please note this happens to me more at festivals and dances where I am less known as organizer, dancer, caller.

Ok way to get off on a tangent but I feel it is relevant. 

Mary Collins

“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass ... it's about learning to dance in the rain!” ~ Unknown

On Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 10:54 AM, Luke Donforth via Callers <> wrote:
At the dances I've seen/called in and around VT, we don't address this directly (with signs or such). 

I've heard of the practice of sitting after declining, but I don't think it's a common practice for most folks these days. I'd say it's mostly fallen by the wayside. 

The one time I've seen it come up at a dance was more than a decade ago when an older male dancer castigated a young female dancer for turning him down and then dancing with someone else instead of sitting out. Several folks told her afterwards that he was rude and impertinent and she hadn't been in the wrong. I wish we'd taken a stronger line with him directly too though. I don't know if she offered an excuse or just a no, thank you. 

I like CD*NY's etiquette list that Alexandra linked to (, especially the bit that addresses this:
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. If someone has declined to dance with you, the etiquette in our community is not to ask that person again that same night. If they would like to dance with you, they can come ask you—it’s their turn to do the asking.

Adding that you shouldn't ask someone multiple times, but have put the ball in their court seems a polite nudge to folks on both sides

Incorporating some of the other strong suggestions that have come up on this discussion, I might advocate our group putting up something like:
You are always free to say no when someone asks you to dance.  No reasons are required; a short "No, thank you.” gives that person more time to find a different partner. If you ask someone...

Thanks for starting this discussion Kalia! It seems like one that could have gone on the organizers shared-weight instead of callers; but this one does seem to be most people's default. 


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