Sometimes my students get nervous when they make simple mistakes while dancing. I try to reassure them that if they put a step out here and the there that there aren't any 'dance police' to write them a ticket! That being said, I thought I'd share 3 things you can do to get back on track with minimal fuss:
1. I'm out of step or on the wrong foot!
If you feel that you've put a step out then you can simply change feet and keep going. As the leader, you can even close your feet and wait a moment before starting again to make sure you and your partner are back in step. No harm, no foul.
2. I'm out of time with the music!
If you find yourself suddenly off time with the music, try pausing for a beat or 3 and continuing when you hear the beat. If you (and your partner) are still out, again you can simply stop for a moment to count yourself in and start again. It will look and feel better to pause for a quick reset than to try and rough it through the rest of the song while off time.
3. I'm struggling to dance with my partner!
Leaders: My advice here is to adjust to each partner. Some ladies prefer a gentle touch, suggestions and invitations in your lead. However there are some ladies that prefer a firmer guiding hand from their partners. After the first 20 seconds or so dancing with a new partner you'll be able to get a feel for how your partner prefers to be lead.
Followers: Be patient, be polite and try not to take over! It is often the case that gentlemen dancers are learning at a seemingly slower pace than you might be - remember he is responsible for leading the dance in addition to all the skills that you are learning. If he is leading a limited variety of patterns, express yourself through styling instead. Enjoy the music and enjoy the fact that a man actually wants to dance. If he feels encouraged then he will continue to grace the dance floor for years to come :-)