How to deal with an inebriated dancer

From time to time we may deal with those who enjoy rollercoasters and subject themselves to substances of various types to heighten the good feelings of dance – many people take anti anxiety medication, some people just need a shot or two of fireball. But when this turns into 10 or 12 instead of one or two, you may find yourself worried about dancing with them. Obviously leaders are typically more dangerous in general because they are controlling movements, but even at the end of an anchor, followers can give too much of their weight and really impact the leaders body as well.

We’ve all seen the bloody noses that are possible even amongst high level, sober dancers… so lower level, inebriated dancers trying to do moves beyond their reach can sometimes be the scariest thing ever.

How can we communicate to an individual we may see having this problem?

Option A: turn them into a follower – Ask if you can lead them for a dance. If yes, you can gently let them know you think their movement may be impacted by sleepiness or alcohol mid dance with very subtle non verbal movements, like disconnecting when they are anchoring with too much connection, or half-timing the dance – often in a following role the individual becomes more aware of their level of intoxication, and it’s a safer dynamic already set up where they might be willing to join you for a cup of water to talk after the dance – something you should always feel free to ask a dance partner.

If they say they don’t follow:

Option B: Ask them what alcohol/drug they had so far tonight in a non accusatory way. Ask them if it’s more than normal, and if they ask why, you can say something like because you were wondering if it might be affecting their dance.

Option C: ok so you’re afraid of confrontation and aren’t good at NVC (non violent communication) – here’s where you can talk to one of their friends that you know they trust. You can even tell them no you don’t want to dance if they ask, then ask around and find who their opposite gendered closest friends are at the event. Mention your concerns to this person and ask them if they wouldn’t dance with this person first before you do so you can watch and evaluate if it’s safe first before you decide to dance with them.

Note: some dances while inebriated will often be some of your most fun dances you will have! The right song comes on, the inebriation enables a moment where a silly movement happens, and you both bust up laughing. Or even if you fall on the ground, nobody gets hurt and the people involved are very good at helping that happen in a safe way. It’s all personal in if you’re able to manage yourself and if you have a connection already established with the person you’re dancing with. A drunken stranger can be a very scary thing, but a drunken comrade the most memorable fun dance of the night.

Be safe out there!

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