There is nothing like the threat of a slow dance to entice anxiety in an unprepared individual. The fear and dread surrounding this social activity probably starts in middle school, and for many individuals it never seems to cease. Consider your first experience with the mysterious realm of slow dancing. I was actually turned down the first time I ever tried to initiate this practice. I was four years old and a flower girl in a relative's wedding. At the reception, I desperately wanted to dance with the ring bearer who, being typical of any four-year-old boy, had no interest at all.
Below you'll find helpful suggestions designed to demystify the art of slow dancing. Fortunately, you'll be pleased to know that you don't have to be Ginger Rogers or Fred Astaire to be successful.
The following are four critical areas to take into consideration. These slow dance guidelines will help you show off your moves on the dance floor. Use these tips to help chase away your fear.
- Space. It is important to maintain the proper amount of space between you and your partner. Certainly if you are dancing with your lifelong partner or spouse, you might be able to bend the rules a bit. Overall, though, you have to maintain a respectable amount of space for the sake of social etiquette and for your dance partner's comfort as well. You should be in close proximity to your dance partner, but still be able to move freely without constantly creating contact with your lower extremities. Standing at arms length is obviously too far and would look quite ridiculous. The ideal separation is to keep four to six inches between your hips and your partner's hips. Make sure your hips are directly above your feet.
- Hand Placement. Women have several options for hand placement when slow dancing. They can rest their right palm against the left shoulder of their dance partner and rest their left palm on the upper back of their dance partner with their fingers resting on that person's shoulder. A woman can also lightly intertwine her fingertips and rest them at the nape of her partner's neck. A man can rest a hand on each of his partner's hips or rest both hands at the small of his partner's back, just below her waist level.
- Footwork. Slow dancing is certainly not as complicated as other forms of dancing, but to an individual with limited experience in the performing arts, it still can be frustrating. Ultimately if you're not stepping on your partner's feet, then you have flexibility with what footwork you choose. Stick with a simple side-stepping motion in which you and your partner both move clockwise. It is acceptable to glance occasionally at the floor, especially as the dance begins, because you can't always guarantee or predict your dance partner's style. Ultimately, though, you don't want to devote more time to your feet then you do to your partner.
Both your and your partner's footwork will be a mirror image of each other. When you are stepping with your left foot, your partner will be moving his or her right foot. As your partner steps slightly backward, you will step slightly forward. Work your way in a clockwise direction with footwork that mirrors that of your partner. Avoid lifting your feet off the ground. Your footwork should be subtle and minimal, and your feet should never lose contact with the floor. If you find yourself constantly bumping feet, you could stagger your bodies ever-so-slightly so that the feet do not line up perfectly.
- Encore. Songs fit for a slow dance to are usually played in pairs. There is no etiquette recommendation requiring you to dance two slow songs in a row. If you prefer to end after one slow dance, briefly and sincerely thank your partner upon ending.
These slow dancing instructions will help you learn how to slow dance. Now that you can dance, share these slow dancing tips with your partner so you can both tear up the dance floor!