Participation dance, also known as group-participation dance or audience participation dance, is a major category or classification of dance forms or dance styles based on purpose. The purpose of this type of dance is to actively encourage dancing (participation) in a group. The dancing that is encouraged might be among those who would otherwise be passive dance viewers, or it might be among dancers who are encouraged to dance in a new way, or with new partners.

This compares to other major dance categories based on purpose:

- Ceremonial dance - Competitive dance - Erotic dance - Performance dance - Social dance

Participation dance is also the common name for social games based on dancing. These can be seen, for example, at weddings, festivals and other large social gatherings.

  1. Some of these dances consist of a few simple steps which are learned during participataion, either from simple instructions given by a dance leader or from watching others who are already experienced at the routine. Examples are Electric Slide, YMCA and the Chicken Dance.
  2. Other participation dances have an easily learned song that is sung to the music and which may act as a reminder of the steps. Examples are the Hokey-cokey, and the similar Hokey Pokey. Cuing by a danceleader is not uncommon in this type of participation dance.
  3. Others incorporate some kind of game.

Table of contents
1 Participation dance games
2 Internal links

Participation dance games


Elimination rules disqualify a dancer or dancers, for example because of lack of endurance, by entering a particular part of the floor, by age, etc.

Follow the leader

A designated leader makes some motions, usually repeating several times, and the rest are to do the same. In some cases the dances form a chain or a file. Examples of the latter case are Conga line, Bunny Hop and Finnish dance Letkajenkka. The "Letkajenkka", also known as Letkajenka, Letkiss and Letka-Enka, was a dance craze in Europe during the 1960s. It is an adaptation of Madison, Conga and Bunny Hop dances, played to a Finnish traditional folk dance song.

Dance mixer

A kind of participation game for dancers that have some skills in social dancing. During a song or several songs of a dance or dances well-known to participants (Waltz, Foxtrot,West Coast Swing, etc.), at certain moments pairs exchange partners in random way. The rules vary. Below are some examples.
    • A couple dances straight across the dance hall until they reach the opposite end. They separate, men and ladies each walking along opposite walls to the start end of the hall where they meet their next partners. The randomness in partner matching arises from the different speed of travel and often different numbers of men and ladies.
    • A couple dances a full round around the room and exchanges partners with these at the start point. Matching randomness is from the speed differences as well as from some chaos introduced at the start point.
    • Couples dance until the music stops, then all couples say goodbye to each other and grab next best partner who happens to be close by (Sometimes the slow ones have to run across the room to meet a spare partner).
    • Couples dance until the music stops. Then they separate and form two concentric "segregated" circles of men and ladies. As "mixing music" starts (something different from the dance danced), the circles walk in opposite directions until the mixing music stops. New partners are those who happen to stand opposite each other at this moment. If there is a disproportion between genders, the "unlucky" ones are encouraged to go and grab someone sitting or standing along the walls.
    • The same as above, only during the "mixing music" the dancers instead of walking do some simple kind of round dance with frequent exchange of partners.
    • A funny version of the above (observed during a Polka mixer in Lithuania): After some dancing the caller calls: "Guys inside (the circle), gals outside. Gals condinue dancing, guys groom themselves." Then the caller calls "Guys, grab yourselves a pair". Then he calls: "Now gals inside, guys outside." (A pause of suspence...) "Gals condinue dancing, guys groom themselves." (Got it? :-)...

Internal links