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partner dances


Closed close is too close?

One of the questions that always comes up during classes is "How close should I be in closed position?"

To me, there's not a hard and fast rule. It's not like you're supposed to be exactly 11.25" away from your partner at all times. There are a few factors to consider for "ideal" placement: your body, your comfort level, and what the dance calls for. 

Check out this video and read on for more thoughts on closed position.


Some of your space will depend on individual anatomy...people with longer arms might be able to stand further away from someone and still be in the correct alignment (shoulder blades down the back, not "popping" out of socket). Partners who are significantly different heights will have to be closer together to accommodate the height differences. Everybody is different, and that's what makes dancing so beautiful!

Space also depends on personal preference. Some people need to maintain their "bubble" of personal space, especially with strangers. Also, if you're super sweaty, whoever you're dancing with *might* not want to be quite as close to you. True story: I was dancing with a guy who looked like he had gone swimming with his clothes on. Naturally, I was trying to stay as far away from him as a I could, even floating my left arm off of his body in closed position to try to stay dry. 

Other people, especially those who dance Sensual Bachata and Kizomba, like to go in and be super close. If you are going for a close hold, whoever initiates it (lead or follow), have good frame and be sensitive to your partners' needs and the needs of the dance. Some dances and some moves require a close hold because they rely on connection across the body, not just in hand placement and one shoulder. 

As always,one of the  goals of social dancing is to build trust between two people and make sure both partners feel confident. Happy dancing!

What do you think? What are your feelings on closed position? How close is too close? How do you lead or follow closed position in a way that's comfortable to you? 



It's Raining Men! Gentleman taking over Salsa and Bachata Classes

Image from CreativeCommons.Org   

Image from CreativeCommons.Org


For the last month or two at Holy City Salsa, there’s been an interesting phenomena in several of the group classes—more guys than girls.

            It’s many times have you been at some sort of group dance class or event that’s been overflowing with women and only a handful of men? So what’s the deal? Why are men taking over the dance class game? And what are women missing out on by not taking classes?

            Here are a few theories and observations from personal experiences—comment below if you agree or disagree and let’s have a dialogue about this.

            The Learning Curve is Imbalanced

            Women/follows can go on the social dance floor, be led through moves and achieve a certain degree of competency without necessarily knowing much more than a few basics.  Though classes and lessons are important to learning finesse, style, and technique, most ladies can at least learn enough on the social dance floor to have a decent time at a dance event.  

            Men/leads can’t really learn by doing on the social dance floor. Or if they try, women/follows may start avoiding them because they will get tired of being improperly led through moves. For a man/lead to have a good time at a social dance event, he needs to be somewhat competent, and at least have a few moves he can lead in his arsenal.

           A lead said his enjoyment of dance events exponentially increased the more he learned. The more moves he knew, the more technique he had, the more fun dancing became for him. Follows are not expecting leads to come out of the gate being excellent dancers—there is definitely a learning curve on both ends, but follows often advance faster than leads, at least in the beginning.

            This makes women/follows feel like they don’t need to take dance classes on a regular basis—however, once women/follows plateau from just learning by social dancing, they tend to stay in a plateau, whereas leads who take classes regularly tend to advance past their plateaus. Think the tortoise and the hare.

            The Social Structure is Imbalanced

            Women may opt out of taking dance classes because they statistically spend more time on housework and childcare than men.  If a woman has to get dinner on the table, make sure the kids are taken care of, and get those extra loads of laundry in, she’s probably not going to spend her spare time taking dance classes. Women with kids, especially single moms, often have to arrange childcare when they are taking dance classes, so a one-hour dance class turns into an expensive and time-consuming process after setting up and paying for childcare.

        Men are also more likely than women to spend time on any given day participating in a leisure activity, such as dancing.

            The time of year may also affect whether or not women can attend classes—those with kids find more responsibilities heaped on them at the beginning and ending of the school year and around the holidays.

            Women also may have less disposable income than men. Women still earn 80 cents to every dollar that a man earns, and so it’s possible that women have less discretionary funds to spend on dance classes as well as less time. 

            The Dance Class Model is Imbalanced

             Social dance classes for partner work, like Salsa and Bachata, tend to focus on learning steps, patterns, and combos. Since the onus is on the lead to lead these combos, more attention is usually given to teach the lead’s technique and footwork. Though principles of following and styling are also taught, the elements of a class that would appeal to a lady are not necessarily the focus.

            Though it is always beneficial to practice a step over and over again, ladies/follows may grow bored with the repetitions needed for a lead to master a step. It’s up to the instructor to make sure that the ladies/follows always have something to work on and refine.

            Women may start out taking dance classes, but stop because they feel like they get the same experience from just social dancing if the instructor doesn’t take the time to work with the follows.


So what do you think? Do you think these observations and ideas are valid, or totally off the mark? What have you noticed happen in dance classes? Does it vary from community to community? Are you in a scene that’s overflowing with women?