In a previous article, I talked about how some less-than-honest folks sometimes use the close quarters of a ballroom dance to make unwanted advances, and how to protect yourself from them. But what if they honestly didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong? After all, even holding a person too closely can send the wrong message to your partner. How does even a well-meaning dancer navigate this mine field?
First, a reminder that the vast majority of dancers out there are not creeps. They just want a fun dance like everyone else. And if there’s a little flirting involved, what’s the harm in that? But between harmless flirting and sexual harassment, there’s a large grey area dancers would be wise to navigate with caution. So, what can you do to prevent an awkward situation?
Pay attention to their body signals.
Some dances are more intimate than others, but that doesn’t mean your partner needs to dance closely if they don’t want to. Pay attention to sudden increases in pressure on your frame, stiffness in their body, or negative facial expressions (anger, fear, etc.) If any of this happens, give them space until they relax again. If this happens more then once in a dance, assume they prefer to keep their distance, and don’t push any further.
Don’t make assumptions!
Certain dances, like bachata, kizomba, salsa, or even tango, can suggest by their romantic nature that the dancers are there to get into close contact with partners. Regardless of the dance however, NEVER immediately press your partner to you, unless you are invited. Yes, I know silver technique requires more body contact, but your partner’s comfort is more important. You may probe the distance between you during the dance to see if they are willing to move closer, paying attention to the signals mentioned above. Just remember that some Latin and rhythm dances aren’t meant to be danced closely, or they may result in a painful accident for the leader!
Be aware of your hands.
I remember a story of a woman practicing with a stranger, who kept touching her in a private area every time they danced a certain pattern. After this happened several times, the woman informed her partner rather forcefully of what he was doing – after which he immediately turned beet-red and started apologizing like a madman. Learn to be aware of where your hands are dancers! You may not be aware of a random boob or butt-brush, but your partner definitely will.
Respect her body in other ways.
Your partner is more likely to trust you if you show you are protecting her body in other ways, by guiding or responding gently for instance, or protecting them from colliding with others.
If you’re not sure, ask!
Some patterns, like dips, can’t help but require you to be closer to your partner. If you have any reason to doubt that they are fine with this, always ask to be sure – they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
If an accident occurs, apologize!
No matter how careful you are, the occasional accident is inevitable. Simply apologize like a gentle-person, preferably with an embarrassed smile, and move on, carefully.