I’d like to recommend this post so you can get a general idea of what I’m going to say. This is a much earlier post and my knowledge has grown considerably since then. Now, I’m prepared to elaborate more and go deeper.
Last night, I went to a dance club for the very first time. It was a blast. I participated in an intermediate salsa class and danced my behind off until around 1:00 am. It was called Melody’s Club, which emphasized Salsa, Bachata, and Kizomba. According to one of the hosts, Melody’s Club is a place that celebrates Texas’s Latin heritage by sharing their wonderful dances with people. I’ll admit that I was a little nervous because this was a first. Fortunately, one of my dancing friends and studio family member, Amy was there too. We were quite happy to see each other, and it made me feel more comfortable. While the dancing and fellowship was absolutely awesome, that wasn’t the best part of the experience for me. The best part was a personal triumph.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I used to have a real aversion and fear to physical touch. As a young child, I didn’t even like being physically affectionate with my family or close friends. Ballroom changed that, especially when I had to learn to dance in closed position. The concept of closed position brings me to my most significant point: trust. I’ve been flummoxed for a while as to why many of the people I’ve met are so reluctant to try dancing. At first, I thought that they were just too nervous to step out of their comfort zone, which is understandable. There may be another reason, though. Dancing is a very physically intimate activity compared to other possible activities. It requires both parties to break physical boundaries in order to participate. Perhaps all those people I’ve met are rather unwilling to trust the other person when it comes to dancing. That’s just a theory.
I’d like to elaborate a bit on closed position before I go deeper into the subject of trust in dancing. Most beginners dance in what is called open position. In open position, the dancers have space in between them. Closed position is its natural opposite. The dancers close the space in between them and meet physically with a good portion of their bodies. The link to my previous post is alluding to closed position in Smooth. Just to briefly summarize, closed position is necessary for momentum because the man and woman are moving contrary to one another. In order to really move around the floor, both dancers have to physically become one unit. For Smooth, the dancers connect at the pelvis and stomach with the woman’s head facing left and stance outward to provide counterbalance. Until last night, I was not completely aware that Latin had closed position. Things became pretty clear when I had to dance in it. That being said, I move on the trust and intimacy. I was dancing a Bachata with a kind gentleman when he suddenly began to pull me closer to him. I mentally went on the defensive. My mind was going “Ack! Too close! Too close! Closed position! Ack!” Fortunately, my dancing side kicked in. “It’s okay. Dancing is about physical contact. All he wants to do is enjoy the contact, much like you derive pleasure in doing the same thing with your teachers. You can trust him.” After the pep talk, I relaxed and enjoyed the moment. What needs to be understood is that there are different levels of physical intimacy and there is such a thing as an appropriate touch. I confess that the main reason for my fear was based on the possibility of being physically violated. Then, my logical side kicked in again. “Alaina, this is a dancing club, not a night club. These people are dancers just like you. They understand what’s appropriate and what’s not. Relax and trust.”
I have to say that I’ve never encountered something that requires such trust like dancing. It breaks barriers frighteningly easily. Dancers understand this. Thus, when physical contact, like closed position, is established, both parties participate in an unwritten rule: respect social and physical boundaries. This person does not know you. Act accordingly. The gentleman I danced Bachata with, unsurprisingly, never tried anything funny. It’s because he understood the unwritten rule, as I did. Of course, if you know the person, you can up the level of intimacy. Just watching some of the couples dance showed me that they definitely knew each other well. Seeing as I didn’t know anyone there and vice versa, the level of intimacy was accordingly appropriate. I definitley plan to dance socially some more. It will help me further when it comes to becoming more comfortable with physical touch.