Ever had an experience like this?
She makes eye contact with you and smiles. She moves rhythmically, accentuating the music with the roll of her hips, an extended limb, a hand running down her side, a hair flick. The sexual energy is tangible.
Or maybe like this?
He holds you in his arms. Your bodies are melting together. Your souls communicate through a beautiful soundtrack. The connection is so intense, you want to take it beyond the dance floor.
Many of us have. Plenty more of us dream of finding these moments.
With very few exceptions, every partner dance has its sexy side. It can be both fun and empowering to tap into it.
We dress to impress at the party, each scene having its own code for what’s sexy for men and for women. Shiny shoes, gelled hair, open shirts, fitted jeans, a flash of gold, a suit? Skirts that twirl, dresses that hug the body, tops that flow, embellished jeans, high heels, strappy sandals, tousled curls, smoky eyes, red lips? It doesn’t take much observation to figure out what the current fashion is, regardless of whether it’s long established or a momentary trend.
We embody the passion in the music with confidence. Our steps are sure, and we find plenty of time for connection and styling. We feel the energy running through our bodies. We roll our shoulders or hips, undulate or sway, find the moments to flow through or to accentuate with staccato movement. We touch with invitation, intention, or daring. In contact bodily or visually, we choose the mood we create with our dance. Fliratious, passionate, sensual, teasing, bold – sexy comes in many flavors.
Keeping It Sexy
There are some things we need to keep in mind if we want to keep it sexy. First, the music matters. We always want to be interpreting the music in a way that makes sense. That means respecting the aesthetic of our chosen dance. Body roll in zouk, not in kizomba. Shimmy in salsa, not in tango. It means trying to use good technique, so we aren’t endangering our partner or others on the floor. Do we have space for those outflung arms, that backwards kick or that hair whip? It also means not getting flirtatious to a song full of grieving or loss. Sure, we don’t all speak Spanish, Portuguese, or French, but a little care can go a long way in not offending dancers who belong to the culture. We also should never assume that a given social dance genre is always or inherently sexy. Kizomba is intimate but not always sexy; zouk can be zen; salsa is sometimes about the daily struggles of life.
We should consider the boundaries of good taste as well. Again, the norms will vary with each dance, but we can all ask ourselves some questions to avoid making any social faux pas. How can we avoid wardrobe malfunctions? We’ve all made the mistake at some point of wearing something too tight or too low or too short or even with too much bling. What is an acceptable range of body movement? Every dance has lines that can be (but shouldn’t be) crossed. Where is appropriate to touch your partner on the dance floor? Ideas about connection and flirtation vary by scene, but even assuming your partner would like to be touched all over, there shouldn’t be any groping on the dance floor. There are bounds of propriety we should respect.
From Sexy to Sex
Sometimes we find someone with whom we’d like to take the sexy times beyond the dance floor. That is an exciting feeling. So many of us come to social dancing because we want to meet more people and expand the possibilties for our love lives. If we’re honest, even those of us who put the dancing first also harbor some fantasies of finding true love or a passionate fling.
Slow down for a moment. Let’s take some time to figure out if we are really in love (or lust) or if it’s actually a dance crush. Never heard of such a thing? A dance crush can feel a lot like a teenage romantic crush, including being overwhelming to be around, inspiring unnecessary giggling or blushing, and a serious need to impress them somehow. But a dance crush may be based solely on their dance persona and not extend to how they would be in a relationship (or in bed). My talented friend Amy Kucharik wrote a song called Dance Crush Blues in which she sings “Your moves are so fine, I just don’t know what to do…But I ain’t going to make you mine. Why mess around with loving when your dancing is so fine?”
A little caution may be in order. We can check for some physical compatibility when dancing together, but shared interests and preferences matter, even if we only want that person in the short term. Have some conversation, pay attention to how they treat others, and see if the benefits justify the consequences of getting involved. Oh, and most importantly? Check that they’re actually interested in you and that your expectations or desires line up.
Don’t Be Creepy
Ever had an experience like this?
He makes eye contact with you and smiles hungrily. His eyes go to your cleavage and your hips. You can feel the gaze like a slime moving over you. You keep on dancing, trying to focus on the music, but you are choked with discomfort.
Or maybe like this?
She holds on to you tightly, pressing her breasts and thighs against you. Her hand is wrapped possessively around the back of your neck. She undulates to the point that she is dry humping you. You are paralyzed by the awkwardness of wanting to extricate yourself without causing a scene.
Many of us have. What’s the difference, really, between a sexy come-on and creepy behavior? It mostly comes down to whether we WANT that attention – from that person, or even just whether we want it at that time and in that place. I don’t think any of us identifies as a creeper: we don’t want to be that awful person. Unfortunately, good intentions aren’t enough; we have to take steps to be sure that we aren’t making someone uncomfortable with our actions.
The good news is, that’s totally doable. Really it comes down to us checking our partner’s interest and boundaries very gently. Let’s start with on the dance floor. If we are in an open hold dance, we can look at their body language. Are they also trying to make eye contact? Are they smiling or raising an eyebrow? Are they initiating a chase and coming in for physical contact? If they are looking down or have a forced smile or seem to be trying to stay away, that’s a no. Keep it toned down. If we are dancing in a close embrace, we should start with a loose hold and pay attention to our partner. Are they relaxed? Do they snuggle closer? Do they seek head contact? Are they comfortable with shared isolations? If they are stiff or leaning away or suddenly tense up, that’s a boundary that should be respected. Testing the waters gradually makes perfect sense, but once we find discomfort, we shouldn’t keep testing. Laura Riva wrote an amazing guide to body language on the dance floor with plenty more hints.
Let’s say we’ve shared some awesome sexy dances with someone and we’re interested in something more away from the dance scene. Start by striking up a conversation with them. Pay attention to how they respond. Do they give short answers and ask no follow-up questions? Or maybe they are bubbly in conversation until the question of hanging out sometime comes up. Then it’s all, “Oh, maybe, I’m pretty busy with work” with no offer of exchanging contact information. That’s a “soft no,” a way of signaling that they are not interested in being more than dance friends. It’s better at that point to leave them be. If they want to hang out at some point or their feelings change, they can approach you next. Repeatedly trying to catch them alone or invite them somewhere will make the situation awkward and may even be considered harassment.
I am decidedly in favor of sexiness. I believe we should all experience that energy in our dancing – sometimes. Sometimes I am in that mood from the beginning of the evening, even before I come to the party. Sometimes it’s a particular song that inspires the sexy in me. Sometimes it’s a particular person. I am always paying attention to make sure that I am still behaving respectfully, though, because other times I am really not in the mood and I want others to respect me, too.
We can be sexy just for ourselves, for a special someone, or in a shared moment on the floor that lasts only the duration of a song. As long as we are respecting the dance, the music, and our fellow dancers along the way, let’s enjoy some sexy times on the dance floor!
For more information on dance etiquette, safety, flirtation, and creepiness, check out my new resource guide.