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How close should I stand to my partner when we're dancing?

Q. How close should I stand to my partner when we're dancing?

A. As with most questions about ballroom dancing, there is not really a 'right' answer to this one. It depends on a number of factors including how comfortable you are with your partner, which dance you're doing and what level of dancer you are. We have broken this question down into 3 categories: Social dancing, Latin dancing and Ballroom dancing.

1. Social Dancing

In a social dancing situation it is always the lady who decides how close to stand to the man, no matter what dance you're doing. Obviously the lady needs to stand close enough to be held comfortably. However, it is not the man's job to put her there. There is nothing more uncomfortable for a lady dancer than being pressed up against someone she'd rather not be pressed up against! For most people this is just common courtesy. But it is a frequent problem that men believe (whether through ignorance or convenience!) that the only 'correct' way to dance is in full contact.

2. Latin Dancing

Assuming that you feel comfortable with your partner, your distance will depend a lot on which dance (and which dance steps) you're doing. In the Latin dances you should usually stand a short distance apart, (maybe a foot) so that your arms connect comfortably in something like a circle. You should feel a comfortable connection with your partner, but you should also feel that your bodies can move independently. This makes it possible to move your knees, hips and body easily, without disturbing your partner.

That said, there is certainly nothing wrong with getting close. Latin dancing can be very sexy if you forget about personal space and just focus on personal. In fact, there are a lot of advanced moves that have to be done very close. Just make sure that your partner appreciates the idea as much as you do!

3. Ballroom Dancing

For the Ballroom dances things can also vary quite a bit. For beginning dancers we usually recommend that you stand slightly apart so that you get comfortable with the basic steps before you get too close. Again, in social situations or on a crowded dance floor, this might be the best idea no matter what. You will always look great if you're looking at each other when you're dancing (as long as you are happy to be there), and this is only comfortably possible if you're standing slightly apart. For this reason we usually recommend that Wedding couples stand slightly apart for their first dance if they want to use actual dance steps. If a wedding couple only wants to sway together, then they could move side to side in more of an embrace if they prefer.

The more advanced you become in ballroom dancing, however, the closer you will stand together. In fact almost all advanced ballroom dancers dance with their bodies in contact. (you should still be completely on your own balance) The reason for this is that you can travel and turn more easily when you are closer to the centre of the partnership. The closer you get to your common center, the more your two bodies function as a single unit. It really should be as if two people are moving as one. (This is easy to say, but dance position is one of the most difficult things to manage in a partnership and the best dancers spend years learning how best to stand and move together).

Happy Dancing,


Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.

How close should I stand to my partner when we're dancing?
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 1/03/2006 06:50:00 PM

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