Before starting dance classes most people’s experience of partner dancing is limited to dancing at home with a parent, country dancing at school, or a slow shuffle round the dance floor at teenage school discos. So starting social dancing and dancing with a partner isn’t always easy. You need to get fairly close (and yes, touch) someone who’s probably a stranger.
I started in salsa and that really helped get past any awkwardness because I could focus on the technical aspect. So when I came to modern jive I was over any worries and could just step right in when needed. It also probably helped that I’m married so there was never that worry whether someone would think there was anything else other than dance in our hold.
However comfortable you are dancing with a partner, sometimes there are times when you don’t want to get so close. This could be down to the partner, or because of the music genre and watching other dancers making you feel like you should be closer than you want to be. For example, blues always feels like a lot closer hold than most modern jive moves.
If you’re struggling with getting close in dance, here’s some things to remember.
Tips on dancing with a partner without awkwardness
1, There’s no obligation to get up close with everyone. Each person should be able to say where their level is and have that respected.
2, Learn ways to hold back at the distance you’re happy with while still able to dance with your partner.
3, If you feel uncomfortable, say something to your partner.
4, Use your frame and ‘tension’ in your arms to keep further away if needed.
5, Try working through the awkwardnes by dancing with people you know and feel comfortable with. Some moves feel much better in closer hold, others won’t work if you’re far apart, so gradually work on being closer for those moves with different partners.
6, Think of dance as a technical set of movements so detaching yourself from the feeling of dance. Gradually reintroduce the relaxed feel and reduce the awkwardness.
7, Ask others how they do it.
8, Don’t worry. People don’t watch you dancing and make judgements on whether you are or aren’t seeing the person you’re dancing with. They just see two people dancing together and enjoying it.
9, Remember dancing is a contact sport. No inappropriate contact should be needed for social dancing, but you do need to touch your partner and get fairly close.
If you want to totally get over any inhibitions, have a baby (obviously it only works for women!). I found after having my son and returning to dance, it had totally changed my dancing by making me less self conscious and more relaxed where previously I’d been a bit more uptight. If you’ve been through having children, nothing can be as invasive as that, so you can really value and enjoy your dancing without feeling awkward.
How did you feel about the closeness of dancing with a partner? How did you get over the awkwardness?