How To Slow Dance - Social Dancing 101
How to Slow Dance
The "slow dance" is different than the typically upbeat sets enjoyed in the course of the average dance. It allows for a flirty or possibly romantic moment with your partner. If you would like to be able to master this skill, you just have to learn a few basic moves, trust your partner, have a little confidence and glide gracefully to the music. If you want to master slow dancing in the time it takes to play K-Ci & JoJo's "All My Life," just follow these steps.
Short Video: How to Slow Dance
The easiest way to slow dance is to sway back and forth as you and your partner rotate in place. Hold your partner’s hand and place your other hand on their upper arm or waist. Face your partner so your faces are 1-2 feet (0.3-0.6 meters) apart. Slowly shift your weight from one foot to the other, back and forth, so you’re swaying.Keep reading to learn how you can lead (or be led) while slow dancing!
Prepare to Slow Dance
Ask someone to dance.Do not just assume your partner wants to slow dance. (Unless maybe you are the bride and groom at a wedding.) He or she might want to take a break, or otherwise leave the dance floor. If you're a man who brought a date, you can give her your hand with a flourish and say,"Shall we?" If you're a girl who brought a date, then gently take your partner by the hand and pull him up as you ask him to dance. Even if you don't have a partner, you should still look the person in the eyes when you ask him or her to dance, and even give him or her a playful smile or grin.
- Don't worry if you're nervous -- it's likely that the person is nervous, too. Hide your nervousness by smiling and asking with confidence.
- Although the answer is probably "yes", the potential dance partner has the right to refuse. Take this graciously.
Escort your partner to the dance floor smoothly.Once your partner has accepted your tempting proposition, then you should escort him or her to the dance floor slowly or smoothly -- there's no need to rush. Remember to "savor" the moment. If you know the person well or are dating, you can hold hands or link elbows as you head to the dance floor. The male should lead the way to the floor andonthe floor, so the guy should clasp his partner's right hand with his left, lift it slightly, and guide the girl to the floor.
- Girls, if your partner doesn’t automatically guide you onto the floor, give him your right hand or crook your elbow into his and walk onto the floor.
- If you're already on the dance floor, the key is tokeepyourself and your partner on the dance floor--no easy task if one or both of you is nervous about slow dances. If your partner is nervous, smile and tell him or her that there's nothing to worry about.
Method 1 Quiz
How might you ask a partner to slow dance?
Position your arms.Correct arm position is vital for starting to slow dance properly. For the traditional slow dance position, the man should put his right hand on his partner's left hip side or on his partner's mid to upper back, and his left hand should gently grasp his partner's right hand and hold it up at about shoulder-level of the taller partner so that both partners' arms are bent upward from the elbow. You should stand about a foot to half a foot (30 - 15 cm) away from your partner, depending on the level of intimacy you want to create.
- The woman's left arm will generally be placed on her partner's shoulder. This is a traditional ballroom dancing position (as well as a safe junior high dancing position), and you should still be standing about a foot from your partner.
- If the two of you are in a romantic relationship, you can even get into a hug stance with the guy’s arms around the girl’s waist and the girl’s arms around the guy’s shoulders. This is also just a more common move for middle-school and even high-school dances because it's a bit easier to get into this position -- but it does make it a bit trickier for the guy to lead.
- Don't let your hands wander. Even in the event that your partner doesn't mind, it’s distracting for the other dancers and just not classy.
Position your feet.Face your partner, standing so that your head is about a foot or two away from his or hers. Standing toe-to-toe is not the optimal position -- you need to give yourself room to move your feet without bumping into your partner's feet. Some couples stand offset, with each person's right foot inside the other persons pair; some partners may have the woman's feet to the inside of the man's.
- Your feet should be at least 1 foot (0.3 m) to 1.5 feet (0.5 m) apart (30 cm-45 cm) so that you can move comfortably from side to side.
Master the motions.Luckily for you non-dancers, slow dancing is about as easy as it gets. Movements should be slow and smooth, and you need not move very much. (Swaying back and forth as you move in a circle is perfectly acceptable.) Simply transferring your weight back and forth, however, is a language everyone speaks. To vary, move or rotate, slightly lift the foot your weight is not on and slide that foot a little forward, back, or sideways.
- As you improve your slow dancing skills, you can master the "step touch": simply step to the right with your right foot, then follow the foot with your left, touch the ground, and then step to the left with your left foot, and then follow your left foot with your right, touching the floor again before you move it back.
- You and your partner's feet should be in sync when you do the "step touch," or even when you sway your feet.
- Your arms should stay in place, except when the guy tugs the girls hand to lead her in a new direction.
- If you're close to the person you're dancing with, you can face each other directly, making your faces just a few inches apart. If not, you can move your head slightly to the left as your partner moves his to the right, or vice versa, so you're not facing each other head-on.
Lead (for guys).Traditionally, the man leads the dance and the woman follows his movement. This means that not only should the man give cues that the couple should turn or move to a new position, but that the girl should allow herself to be led. If you're a guy, then you should guide your partner, not move her around on the dance floor like a broom. You should be confident enough in your movements to show the girl when you want to turn or move in a new direction. Here are some other things to keep in mind as you lead the girl:
- The easiest way to lead the girl this is by subtly pushing or pulling her right hand (assuming you are holding it in your left hand) in the direction you want to go.
- However, make sure you’re not doing all your leading with just your hands; if your body’s doing one thing and your arms are doing another, you’ll come across as pushy or like you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Instead, lead with your whole body: keep your shoulders and elbows firm but springy and then step in the direction that you want to lead your partner.
- You can lead your partner in a new direction, and continue to turn in a box-like shape so that you keep slow dancing while keeping things interesting as you move your bodies.
- You can also just move your partner to the right, left, or back or forward if you want to find a less crowded place on the dance floor or if you just want to mix things up.
Be led (for girls).Though you girls may not want to cede control to your dance partner, you have to trust him and hope that he'll do his best. If you try to control him while he tries to control you, then you'll end up in an awkward tug-of-war situation and neither of you will be able to really move or enjoy the dance. Here are some things to keep in mind as you allow yourself to be led:
- If you’re lucky enough to get a partner who leads – even if awkwardly – don’t fight it. In fact, do your best to follow along; the clearer you make it that he’s in charge, the likelier he is to try to lead better.
- If your partner moves his foot, you will need to compliment his action: as the leader moves his right foot backward, for example, you should move your left foot forward.
Move to the beat.Your steps should move roughly in time to the beat of the music so that you make a step every beat or so. This is not as hard as it might sound since the music will be nice and slow and easy to follow. If the song speeds up at some point, then speed up the "step touch" or swaying movements of your feet to match the music -- make sure that youandyour partner and speeding up and slowing down when it's necessary.
- If the music suddenly slows down, or if you're just feeling playful, guys, then you can turn your partner in the middle of the dance.
Talk to your partner.For most of us, a slow dance is more about being close to your partner and getting to know each other than it is about moving. Feel free to talk to your partner, to look into his or her eyes and, if the situation is appropriate, to steal a kiss or two. Talking to your partner will put both of you more at ease during the dancing process, whether you know each other well or not.
- Don't feel the need to talk constantly -- this can disrupt the flow of the dance and may make things awkward if you can't hear each other very well. Just a bit of conversation here and there will make the experience more fun and comfortable.
Method 2 Quiz
How can you avoid making the slow dance awkward?
Thank your partner for the dance.Whether you're dancing with your wife of 60 years or someone you've never met before, thank your partner. You can just say, "Thank you for the dance," or "I hope we can do that again soon, thank you," to make your partner feel special. If you're a guy and are feeling playful, you can even give the girl a little bow as you thank her to make her feel special and show how much fun you had.
- If you end the dance in this sophisticated manner, then the person will be more likely to dance with you in the future.
Continue to the next dance or retreat gracefully.Once you're comfortable with slow dances, you might not want to flee the floor as quickly as possible: one dance is just the beginning. If, however, you've had enough dancing for the moment, retreat from the dance floor. And if you haven't had the best time slow dancing with the person, taking a break is a good way to keep that person at bay.
- Offer to escort your partner to his or her table or wherever he or she wants to go, or ask him or her if they would like to retreat if you want to do so.
- If you enjoyed the slow dance and the music speeds up, don't be afraid. You can continue to dance to faster-paced music with the same dance partner, as long as you're both in the mood for more dancing.
Method 3 Quiz
When should you thank your partner for the dance?
QuestionWhat do I do if my partner doesn't know how to dance?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf your partner can't dance, just teach them. For example, if you're a boy, and the girl doesn't know how to dance, say, "Just put your hands on my shoulder and I will put my hands on your waist." Then, on the other hand, if you are a girl, say to the boy who doesn't know how to dance, "I put my hands on your shoulders, and you put your hands on my waist." It may be a little out of your comfort zone, but it is very fun.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I make it less awkward?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTalk to your partner. Look at them and smile. It might feel awkward at first, but once you loosen up and talk a little, it will feel more natural.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if the girl doesn't know how to dance?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't worry about it! Slow dancing isn't for experts. Even if she doesn't know how to dance, she can simply move back and forth to the beat.Thanks!
QuestionIf I surprise a girl with a slow dance, would that be romantic or creepy?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you just asked her, that alone would be a surprise. Overall though, it depends on the girl. If she's laid back and more open about her emotions, she'll probably love it. If she's more reserved or has a boyfriend, she might not react so well, so I would use your best judgment based on what you know about her and her personality. Even if you don't think she would react well to a surprise slow dance, she might still enjoy dancing with you, so ask her either way.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I know how to move my feet if I'm looking into his eyes and not at our feet?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt just takes a little practice. After about 30 seconds of repeating your foot movements, you'll have the basic swing of things. And for those first couple of seconds, both of you, no matter how experienced, will be figuring it out. Don't sweat it!Thanks!
QuestionWhy should I dance a slow dance?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's the most intimate form of dancing. Asking your partner to slow dance with you is a good way to let that person know you think they're special.Thanks!
QuestionIf I'm the girl in the dance, and the guy doesn't know how to dance, should I lead him or let him try his best to lead me?Cowboy 4 JesusCommunity AnswerQuickly teach him something basic like the box step, then let him lead. My first dance I knew nothing, but was taught that and survived!Thanks!
QuestionWhat does it mean if she has her hands on my shoulders and my hands on her hip?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerShe wants to be closer to you. This is sometimes just a more comfortable position for dancers, as opposed to holding your arms up which can quickly become tiring.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if my partner and I are just friends? Should we still treat it as an intimate dance?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf both of you are comfortable with the intimacy, then go ahead. If not, don't.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if my dance partner doesn't like me and is just being nice? Should I act the same?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. In all situations, you should attempt to be polite. Remember, while dance can be used for emotional reasons, it's ultimately a physical behavior. Just leave a little space between the two of you, don't talk too much, and don't stare at your partner's face. In the end, all you're doing is asking someone to move in sync to the music with you.Thanks!
- Make lots of eye contact with your partner, as this will make the relationship stronger and dancing more comfortable.
- Allow conversation to happen. Many people will slow dance just to get the chance to talk with you. If the conversation flows, let it. If you let it flow, be genuinely interested in the conversation, or be genuinely interested in your partner.
- Be respectful.
- Try sliding your feet instead of picking them up. This way you are less likely to step on your partners feet.
- Make sure you don't stare at your partner creepily.
- Make sure your dancing posture is comfortable. Position your feet so that you don't have to strain or stretch as you dance.
- Don't try to kiss him/her right away. When the dance is over, slowly move in. If they step back, stop. If they lean in or close their eyes, kiss away.
- If you do know how to dance, either expertly or at a beginner level, rather than assume anything about your partner, ask them or try them out. Ladies, feel free to ask your partner if he knows how to dance. If he does and you don't, asking him to teach you may get you a few more dances throughout the night, and a date in the future if you want it.
- Try to know your partner more - it might become less awkward.
- When the dance is over, hug, or even steal a kiss if it is appropriate.
- Girls, if you really can't stand the guy you're dancing with, just say your feet hurt and gently break away.
- Girls, make sure the boy you are dancing with isn't just dancing with you because his friends dared him. If you see in his eyes that he is interested in you then he is a keeper.
- Girls, if you feel comfortable, some girls lay their head on the guy they are dancing with shoulder. After the dance is over, maybe hug or chat with each other, or even dance side by side to the fast songs.
- Guys, be sweet. Girls like it, and it's attractive.
- Look into each other's eyes occasionally to show that you are interested.
- If your partner is making mistakes and stepping on you by accident, try not to get mad! It is probably a little scary for them to be slow dancing.
- Guys don't necessarily have to ask the girl. Girls, go ahead and ask him to dance if you feel so inclined.
- Make sure you are confident when you ask him/her to dance, it will be more comfortable.
- Keep the mood after you're done dancing. Get her a drink, pick up conversation, steal a kiss or hug.
- Don't make your body tight. Make it as light as a feather.
- Be sure to stay completely calm. Breathe and try not to blush.
- If you step on someone's feet, apologize, and for heaven's sake try not to do it again. If someone steps on your feet and apologizes, be forgiving. Chances are that it was an accident.
- Talk to and look at your partner, not your friend's partner! Looking over your partner's shoulder at someone else isn't going to end well.
- If you hurt her, she's not likely to dance with you again, and she'll probably tell her friends, who won't either. Worst case, she'll tell security and then you're in trouble.
- This beautiful woman you're dancing with might not relate the same way the guys do, meaning a sudden jerk on her arm might bruise it, not make her feel like she's having a good laugh.
- Practice does indeed make perfect. Maybe this one won't dance with you again, ever – but maybe the cutie in the cocktail dress just noticed how you treated this dance as a gentleman should ... and she's looking for the next time you're free.
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