It has to be said that dance is an integral part of cruising. From deck parties to Zumba for fitness, salsa lessons, demonstrations by professionals, and the night clubs on board or formal tea dances, there’s an opportunity each day to get your groove on. After all, it’s a way of compensating for all that delicious food…
What you may not realise is that there are gentlemen (and a lady or two) out there working their passage through a role as a dance host. We found out about this early in our cruising career, when a lovely table mate on the Queen Mary 2 enlightened us. I had been watching what I considered to be some rather forward men during afternoon tea the day before. Afternoon tea includes a session or two from the dance orchestra, and an opportunity to take to the floor. The gentlemen involved were circling the tables and inviting many different women to join them. I was torn between thinking them very cheeky and offering them a high five, until I found out about the role of the dance host.
On some cruise lines, including Cunard and Fred Olsen, dance hosts are available to provide opportunities to dance for those ladies who are single or have partners with more than one left foot. On Fred Olsen’s Black Watch, I believe there is also a lady host for those gentlemen in a similar situation wishing to dance. We learned lots about their role from our table companion on the Queen Mary 2. Dance hosts must be good conversationalists, happy to chat away to passengers. They should not monopolise a single guest, nor should they dance too close (!), and they must be prepared to dance for a significant number of hours each day – perhaps up to 6, which must keep you very fit indeed. I gained a lot of respect for them; that’s quite some time on your swirling and cha-cha-ing feet. With the popularity of Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With The Stars, they must be kept very busy.
And it’s not just the more mature audiences who are loving the dancing on board. We have seen lots of younger couples hitting the floor and impressing us with what might be dance school knowledge. You can also learn to dance on the ship, with lessons covering everything from the samba to the foxtrot. Celebrity Eclipse uses the big spaces on Deck 14 for its dance classes, giving you one of the best views ever while you’re learning.
So if you want to be a dance host, where do you start? The all-encompassing Job Monkey states that:
Most hosts are retired single men who work for the chance to sail around the world for free, or sometimes for a small salary. Gentlemen hosts must know a variety of different dances, but ballroom, swing, waltz, fox trot, and other more formal dances are preferred. Hosts must be able to dance for several hours almost every night so it makes sense that gentleman hosts are social people with a lot of energy. They must also be good conversationalists and enjoy social engagements as well as some hosts are asked to attend parties and onboard events that do not involve dancing.
Ann Brenoff at the Huffington Post interviewed one of the gentleman hosts, finding that his role was not short on romantic overtures from female guests. She writes:
“According to Alan Benedict, 58 and a Gentlemen Host™ for 20 years, the rules of conduct are clear. The men dress “in uniform” — either a tuxedo or a blue blazer at all times (replete with name tags/badges) and no jeans are ever worn, even on shore excursions. They never dance with a woman who is traveling with a male companion/husband without express permission from him. And, says Benedict, they don’t focus on the younger women on board. “We are here for the 50+ women,” he said. Hosts also make sure that all the women understand that their role is to circulate and not pair off with just one.”
So if you are a dancing gentleman, why not consider seeing the world, keeping fit, and gathering a rich selection of experiences?