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, from 2007, a number of other organisations applied for Associate Membership. As WDSF declared itself ready to act as the cohesive force between these stakeholders in sporting activities which involve dance, agreements were concluded between WDSF and and other organisation.
In 2008, WDSF entered into a co-operation agreement with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), pledging to develop and promote Para DanceSport jointly with the IPC, and to work towards establishing a single international governing body for DanceSport, including the discipline involving athletes in a Wheelchair.
As part of the ongoing 2020 VISION process, WDSF is studying the applications of several other organisations with a view to admitting them as Associate Members in the future.