The WDSF Associate Membership came into existence in 1995, when the World Rock 'n' Roll Confederation (WRRC) sought to establish a more formal tie between itself and DanceSport's world governing body. At the time, WDSF had secured provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee and was a member of the General Association of International Sports Federations, an umbrella organisation that later changed its name to SportAccord.
By agreeing on the terms for an Associate Membership, WDSF and WRRC acknowledged that DanceSport comprises more than the five Latin and the five Standard dances, and that Rock 'n' Roll - including the dance styles (Lindy Hop, Boogie-Woogie, Bug, etc.) associated with it - fall under the genus name too. This notion eventually led to Rock 'n' Roll competitions being incorporated alongside Latin and Standard into the programme of The World Games from 2001.
After WDSF embarked on a process of restructure under the VISION 2012 programme, a number of other organisations applied for Associate Membership. As WDSF declared itself ready to act as the cohesive force between the stakeholders in the sporting activities which involve dance, agreements were concluded between WDSF and the International Paralympic Committee (Wheelchair DanceSport) and others.
WDSF entered into a co-operation agreement with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), pledging to develop and promote Wheelchair DanceSport jointly with the IPC, and to work towards establishing a single international governing body for DanceSport, including Wheelchair.
In 2011, the WDSF General Meeting admitted three organisations under the terms of a new Associate Membership Agreement. Each Associate Member is represented on the WDSF Presidium.