This post is inspired by past feelings and past encounters. Recently, a friend of mine went dancing for the first time, which I alluded to in this post. Aside from the fact that she found it “horrible,” and has subsequently decided to just become a spectator, she said something that has come up more than once in my dancing experience. She sounded quite uncomfortable as she said this:
Dancing is quite the intimate physical activity
Indeed it is. In what other activity can two people who have never seen each other break rudimentary social and physical boundaries by joining hands and dancing together? In my opinion, that’s what makes dancing so wonderful. By allowing your current partner to hold your hand and put his/her other hand on your shoulder-blade/shoulder, you’ve already broken the ice, and you can talk later, if you wish. But, as someone with a former aversion toward physical contact, I can understand why this can make some people uncomfortable. The key word in that sentence is former. While you may not object to hugging or whatever, if you are uncomfortable with the prospect of dancing with a stranger, or what have you, know that I’m here to help.
I remember when I was learning to dance for the very first time back when I was fifteen. I had recently been to a couple of middle school dances, so I wasn’t too uncomfortable with a guy putting his hand on my waist. What I wasn’t prepared for was how good-looking my instructor was. You heard me right: my instructor was pretty cute. But, he was married. That fact put a halt on things pretty fast. Was it even okay to dance with a married man? (It makes me giggle, looking back and seeing how utterly naive I was.) Things got worse when I had to learn Rumba. This dance has been called “the dance of love” and “a vertical expression of a horizontal desire,” how on Earth could I even think about getting sexy with a married man? The fact that I was going through puberty didn’t help either. 😉 Even when I began at my current studio, it was still very uncomfortable. There was just no way I could dance sexily with my instructor due to my shyness. When the time came to start dancing stomach-to-stomach, it’s a wonder I didn’t start blushing.
So, why do all the professionals and more experienced dancers dance smooshed against their partner? It’s really a matter of aerodynamics. This is mostly seen in the traveling dances. In order for the couple to really glide around the floor, they have to become a cohesive unit that can cut through the air easily. Here’s another way to think about it: would a top spin well if it had a big slit down the middle? I affectionately call this “sandwich dancing” because it reminds me of a human sandwich.
Yes, it did make me uncomfortable at first, but I got over it. The most important thing to remember is that your frame of mind is crucial. Dancing is what you make it. Tell yourself that you’re just dancing, and that’s all you’re doing. If you’re sandwich dancing, you can go the nerdy route, and tell yourself that you are providing the optimal conditions for aerodynamic ease and the build up of motion (or maybe that’s just me…). Stuck doing a Rumba, and feeling uncomfortable about it? Just dance to the best of your abilities, and, yes, keep dancing it because you need to get used to it. Personally, I love dancing Rumba because I can let the sexy, feminine side of me out more than I normally would. There’s a dramatic value, too. And, if you just dance it, people might think it beautiful. There is beauty in any kind of intimacy, and handling it in a mature way makes it more beautiful.
Let me re-iterate: it’s all about your frame of mind. Wait, but Alaina, it is more than dancing! “I’m in the arms of someone I don’t even know”, or “I can’t possibly be sexy with him/her.” If you have those thoughts, you are making dancing more than it really is. Be calm, and just dance. If you do those two things, I promise, most of the discomfort will just disappear.