My favorite activity, next to dancing, is to watch other dancers, both of which I have done for more than fifty years. Many dancers could improve their appearance, and raise their level of comfort and enjoyment by paying attention to a few very basic techniques. Here is a short compendium of tips and pointers to help dancers look and feel better.

If you take lessons from a good teacher, you don't need to read on. If you have any problems, he/she will correct them.

If your teacher does not work with you on footwork, body movement, following or leading, you are either a flawless student, or you need to talk to him/her and insist on working on these points.

If you don't take lessons, I hope the following suggestions will be of help to you.

Above all, remember, Ballroom Dancing is a couple dance as well as an improvisational dance form. This sets it apart from all other dance forms which depend on choreography or cuers to determine the sequence of patterns.

This is why it only works well if the two partners cooperate. Rather than dancing for the audience, you should dance with your partner and for your partner. Leaders, don't push and shove your partner. Rather, help her do her part with gentle hand leads and body language. Make it as easy for her as you possibly can. Followers, be patient. Don't take a step before your partner does. Don't pull away from him, don't lean against him. You'll find that if both the leader and follower focus on each other, things suddenly start becoming easier and more enjoyable.

After reading my tips you might want to learn about how dance competitions are judged. This tells you what competition judges consider important when they look at couples dancing. Click here to read about it.


anf0202.jpg (19449 bytes)
Close Hold


Promenade. Notice, the follower stays on the leader's right side


Many dancers move with their feet apart. This makes them look awkward. Try the following. Imagine walking on a plank of wood, just wide enough to accommodate your feet, side by side. Now move forward and backward without stepping off the plank. You'll notice that when one foot passes the other,  it brushes against it.

Get used to brushing your feet against each other moving forward and backward, then apply the same technique to moving in different directions. Whenever one foot takes a step, it touches or brushes against the other before you put your weight on it.

Note that, except where a variation demands it, one foot never crosses in front or back of the other. Each foot always stays in its own track.

Ladies, I know moving backward most of the time is difficult. However, try pointing your toe out when stretching the leading leg backward (and I mean stretching). Arching your back helps.

When you spin, either on two beats or on a triple step, stay on one spot by keeping your feet together (unless the step requires you to travel, in which case you stay on the plank). This way you wont wobble, loose your beat, or end up too far away from your partner, forcing him to chase and catch you , or rushing to close the gap.

When you kick, point your toe out and down. Pointing your toe up or inward looks very ungainly and is only suitable for some western moves (where it looks cute).

To do a Tango swivel (fan), keep your knees together, stay balanced on your weighted foot,  and point your free toes down and out.


DancePhoto4c.gif (52163 bytes)
Don't pull too far apart in rhythmic dances.

Body motion

When you dance, your body should be in continuous motion. The motion may slow down but it never ceases completely. According to a prominent competitor, teacher and competition judge, this even applies to Tango where most dancers come to a complete stop at the tango close. When you transfer your weight from one foot to the next, your spine should not stop. It should move across your foot in the direction of the next step, fluidly and continuously. This is quite different from walking, hence the saying: "Dancing is to walking as poetry is to prose."

To get a smooth start, imagine the following. You are balancing a long pole upright in your right hand. To move the pole away from you, you have to first let the top tilt away from you. Then, as the pole starts to tilt, your hand has to quickly move in the same direction so the pole is balanced again. Now try the same idea with your body. Your legs and spine represent the pole. Start tilting forward or backward, then quickly move the bottom of the pole, your feet, under your shoulders to restore your balance.

The technique applies to both partners, but the most pronounced benefit is the fact that in this manner, the man telegraphs his intention to the lady who can feel his body movement with her left hand resting on his right upper arm a split second before his feet start moving. If you have a steady partner, try moving in different directions with both of your hands at your sides, and with the lady's only contact with you being her left hand on your right upper arm.

The second benefit is a much more fluid movement, better balance, and longer steps.

Another way of looking at it is to imagine a thin layer of air between the two upper bodies. To move forward, the leader must push this layer of air ahead of him with his chest.

Thirdly, it will prevent the man from "poppin' the clutch", i.e. starting to dance with a sudden, abrupt movement. Men, it is usually better to listen to the music for a few measures until you are fully prepared to start on the first beat of the next measure (or the second beat in the Mambo). Then 'tilt the pole' a split second before that first beat.

If you are tall and your partner is much shorter than you, reduce the length of your step so both of you feel comfortable.

If you are height challenged (like me), you probably have a tendency to take shorter steps than you are capable of. Force yourself to take longer steps. You'll look more fluid and graceful. It'll feel uncomfortable and unnatural at first, but pretty soon you'll feel and look much better.

On open breaks, don't move too far away from your partner. Your shoulder sockets will be the better for it, and it's a lot easier to get together again (see the third picture above).

On cross-body leads (walking around your partner), stay close and finish the step in close position. Many ladies end up a foot or more away from their partner, throwing him off balance..

Ladies, don't roll your hips in all dances. The Cuban or Latin hip movement is reserved for Latin dances such as the Rumba, Mambo, Cha-Cha, Bolero, Samba and Merengue. The exception is East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing and Shag where top-level competitors all use a pronounced hip movement.

Men, make an effort. While moving your hips may at first seem unnatural, it really isn't. When you're waiting at the check-out counter and 'sit' on one hip, with no weight on the other foot, your doing a basic Latin motion. When you change weight and 'sit' on the other hip, you're completing the motion. Using Latin motion immediately puts you in a more accomplished class of dancers.


DancePhoto2a.gif (428533 bytes)
When you stay close it's easier for both to do underarm turns.


In rhythmic dances, much of the leading is done with the left hand.

Body Contact

In smooth dances, whenever possible, maintain a light pelvic contact with your partner. An arched back helps to achieve this while maintaining a comfortable distance between upper bodies. Try it in closed position, angled position and promenade position. If you want to feel the difference between dancing, and dancing together, this will be an eye opener.

Men, when doing a parallel step, or a promenade, try keeping your shoulders facing your partner rather than facing the direction of your feet. It's a bit like downhill skiing, where the feet point across the slope while the upper body faces straight down the slope.

Many ladies pull away from their partner without being aware of it. Others feel they may give the wrong impression by being close to their partner. Once you try it, however, you will be elated by the feeling of really moving in unison.

Don't confuse this with the international or standard style of dancing which requires that body contact be maintained at all times and where underarm turns, parallel or side-by-side positions are prohibited.

Following in Smooth Dances

In close position, always look over you partners right shoulder (see the first picture above). Your right pelvic bone should be inside your partner's right pelvic bone. This lines up your shoulders parallel to your partner's, the best position for moving backward and forward. Many ladies have a tendency to keep their right shoulder farther away than their left shoulder. Similarly, men have a tendency to push their partner away with their left hand or pull them too close with their right, with a similar effect. This makes it much harder to move and to lead .

Keep your left arm firm, don't let it flex. This provides you with a tactile feedback of your partner's movements. Whether he moves forward or backward, you'll always keep the same distance from him (see body movement above).

Your right arm should not pull, push or otherwise exert force on you partner's left hand. Except in certain circumstances, your left arm is used as a decoration. It is not functional.

After a promenade movement, quickly return to a close position and look over his shoulder again. This lines you up again for the next move.

Stay close to your partner and maintain body contact. You'll feel the direction of his body movements and will be able to react more easily. Relax, don't be pro-active, don't try to anticipate the next lead. Don't be too brittle or strident in your movements, become more languid, letting the man guide you along (don't fall asleep, though). Try occasionally closing your eyes and concentrate mentally on your partners body movement and his hand, shoulder and head leads.

The only exception is when your partner is about to collide with another couple while moving backward. Warn him with a tap on the shoulder, or even pull him to a halt. He'll thank you.

Be forgiving. Your partner has a lot to think about. He has to plan the next step, lead you into it, and at the same time navigate on an often crowded dance floor. If he is like me, doing more than one thing at a time is a challenge.

The Frustrated Leader

DON'T ASSUME you know every move the leader will make from the moment he takes your hand.

I have danced with women who seem to be on automatic pilot. They dance through patterns they're familiar with despite my best efforts to get them to do otherwise.

Even the best leaders will find it impossible to control a woman who is hell bent on doing 5 spins when the actual lead calls for a slow half turn.

Ladies, please start each dance with a blank slate that is waiting to be written upon by the leader. Assume nothing.

Rene's comments: In my mind I compare leading some women (very few fortunately) to trying to reign in a bucking horse.  You never now where they're going to go next. It takes all the leader's effort to stay in the saddle. I'm a small guy and getting on in years and that kind of effort takes a lot out of me. Ladies, please have pity!

But I have also discovered that most ladies are unaware of the fact that they are 'leading'. What they are really doing is pre-empting their partner from making choices. They are always a little ahead of their partner. At the time their partner tries to apply a lead, their weight has already transferred to the next foot, leaving him no choice to step in the same direction. Nervousness or tenseness seem to be the major reasons for this. My suggestion for you ladies: try to relax and enjoy, be patient and wait for your partners move.

Read the following articles:
Following- the art of doing nothing'.

The role of intertia in ballroom dancing.

Leading in Smooth Dances
First, let me emphasize again. Leading has to be done in the spirit of wanting to help your partner do the pattern you wish to execute. You don't push or shove her around. Be gentle at all times. See what works best. Concentrate on your partner. Make an effort to become a good leader.

The most important part of leading is probably body language. If your partner is attuned to you, if she listens to your body language, she can detect very slight changes in motion and direction and can react in ample time. You can consciously emphasize your body language when needed, such as when you lift your shoulder before you prepare to sway.

Leading is not something you turn on and off. When you drive a car on a straight road, you still keep your hands on the steering wheel and make small corrections when required. The same applies to the control the leader has to assume when dancing. It is always present but only used when needed.

First, get into the proper position. Look over your partner's right shoulder (see the first picture above) and try to have your partner look over your right shoulder. Your right pelvic bone should be inside your partner's right pelvic bone. This lines up your shoulders parallel to your partner's, which is the best position to move forward and backward.

Don't 'pop the clutch' by starting with a sudden abrupt motion. Telegraph your intention by 'tilting the pole' (see body movement above).

Remember, unless the lady is your steady partner, she may dance with a lot of different fellows, each with his own variations and peculiarities and his own way of leading. Get a feeling for the way your partner moves and her level of accomplishment. Adjust the length of your step to hers. Don't try complicated variations without first testing some simple and then progressively more advanced ones. On the dance floor, she is at your mercy. Be considerate.

A strong lead does not mean applying a lot of force. It is a matter of firm, continuous and steady control.

Your two hands should form a cradle, as if you were holding a baby, with your left hand under its head and the right hand under its behind. No matter were and how you move, make sure the baby always stays in the same position. Don't squeeze its head, and don't crush it against you with your right.

That means don't squeeze your partner's hand with your left, don't pull her toward you with your right. The only exception might be to counteract the centrifugal force of a fast pivot, where it might help to pull your partner into you a little more firmly with your right hand.

There are many ways to signal your partner what to do next. It all depends on the dance variation you're trying to execute. The following are just a few examples.

Your right hand gently turns your partner into a promenade position. Turning your head and body toward your left gives further emphasis to the move (see the second picture above). To execute a chasse, push a little harder as if to say "we have to hustle a bit here", and at the same time pretend to lift your partner unto her toes (gently does it).

A right hand pull also guides your partner forward into an angled position on your right or left side (such as a tango fan). This gentle pull, combined with a slight rotation of your shoulders should be enough to indicate your intention.

A firm and slightly downward pull will accomplish a tango corte, particularly if combined with a slight bending of the left knee.

If you want your partner to angle backward, use a slight shoulder movement. Push forward firmly with you right shoulder to make her angle backward to your left, and vice versa. Waltz twinkles are a good example of this technique.

Start thinking about which foot your partner's weight is on. Trying to lead her into a move when her weight is on the wrong foot will result in some awkward stumbling.

Finally, a word about navigation, i.e. moving around a crowded dance floor without collisions and potential injuries. In each dance, keep a repertoire of evasive steps, movements that let you quickly, and in mid-step, change your direction, halt your progression, or retreat. Look over your shoulder before moving backward. Like driving a car, try to anticipate what another couple will do next. Use a quick-moving step to bypass traffic jams and squeeze through small openings. If you're a student, ask your teacher about these maneuvers, he can show you some very effective moves.

If you're hopelessly out-of-step with your partner, or off the beat, stop and start again. It's much better than to stumble along.

These are some of the basic lead techniques. Most importantly however, don't push and pull your partner, guide her. Gentle persuasion yields far better results and more enjoyment for your partner than brute force.

The Frustrated Follower
(Courtesy )

DON'T be so involved with yourself that you forget that you're actually dancing with a human being.

This can take two forms. The leader gets so caught up in his footwork, his styling, his cool moves that he forgets about what his partner is experiencing. (Dance for your partner, not for yourself - Rene)

Another version of this is when the leader is more concerned with who's walking in the door, who's giving him the eye from across the room, who he'd like to dance with next ... that he ignores the partner he is currently dancing with.

Try to strike a balance by devoting some attention to your partner's needs as well as your own. You should both look good TOGETHER on the dance floor as a single unit that's moving in harmony.

DON'T assume that it's the follower's fault if the dance step you're leading doesn't turn out as you planned.

A leader tends to place the blame on the follower when something goes wrong with a dance pattern because he has a very clear idea in his mind of what he wants to accomplish. What he doesn't realize is that he may not be sharing his vision with his partner by providing her with clear directions for the dance pattern.

If something doesn't work out, ask the follower why she didn't feel the lead for the particular step. She may be able to give you a valuable insight that will improve your leading ability.

Better yet, learn the follower's footwork for each pattern. You'll be able to lead much better if you know first hand what you're actually asking the follower to do.

DON'T leave bruises or your thumbprints anywhere on you partner's body as a permanent reminder of your dance together.

Don't laugh, I've actually had someone's thumbs imprinted on the tops of both hands for an entire day! This is usually a beginner's trademark. They tend to really squeeze their partner's hands while they're struggling to remember new dance steps. Lighten up, guys! If you relax you'll think and move better.

Rene's comment: In open position don't get too far away from each other. Keep your elbow slightly bent. Some painful shoulder, elbow and hand joints can bear witness to a lot of forceful pulling and jerking. This happens most often in Swing and Hustle.

Pivots and Turns
When turning, such as in the Waltz, or when executing a pivot imagine a horizontal wheel. One partner is always at the hub of the wheel, while the other partner is at the rim. The partner at the rim provides the force and momentum, the partner at the hub provides the stability.

In a Waltz left turn, the partner who takes the left forward step on the one count is at the rim. He/she is responsible to provide the rotation and must take a long forceful step forward. The partner at the hub only takes a small step backward, letting the rim partner move around her/him. Thus, each partner takes his/her turn at the rim or the hub, depending which one moves forward on the left foot on the one count.

In a right pivot, the same principle applies. The partner who steps forward on his/her right foot is at the rim and is responsible for the rotation, while the partner at the hub stays almost immobile, letting the rim partner move around him/her. Again, both partners alternate between hub and rim.

Right pivots are difficult. But if you have been doing pivots and it does not feel quite right, or if you cannot stay on a straight line, try the following two techniques:

First, make sure that, while turning, the ladies right knee is firmly locked to your right knee. The lady has to take a good sized step forward, into you, when you take your first left foot step in front an around her.

Stay upright but keep your weight slightly on your heels and suggest the lady do the same. As you put weight on your left foot, stay back on your heel and rotate the lady around you so that when you put your weight on the right foot again, you face your line of progression. In other words, you execute a full 360 degree turn with each two steps.

I find that if I have a partner who follows the above technique, I can easily pivot many times and keep progressing on a line in the same direction.

Stay erect, don't slouch, arch your back. Keep your head up at all times. It's amazing how many dancers look down as soon as they are turned away from their partner (such as in a promenade) without being aware of it. Look at the second picture above. See how their heads are up during a promenade.

Relax, try smiling, even if you're concentrating.

Remember, your partner can help you, either with good leading or good following. However, your partner can't do anything to make you look good if you slouch, look down, etc.

Rhythm Dances
Giving written hints for rhythmic dances such as the Swing, Cha Cha, Samba, and Mambo is a little more difficult. There are a great many very specialized and stylized leads which must be learned to know their meaning. However, I have observed a few common and pervasive problems.

Use the same footwork techniques as described above. Keeping your feet apart looks ungainly in both types of dances, as does a pigeon-toed, toe up kick.

If you are tall, take smaller steps than normal. The music is usually fast and this will conserve your energy. You will also stay closer to your partner, a much more comfortable way of dancing.

Ladies, keep your right arm firm. Don't let it flex. Your partner needs to give you critical leads with his left hand. If your arm yields and flexes (the wet noodle symptom), he can't do it.

Stay at a comfortable arms-length distance from your partner when in a break position. Guys, don't yank. Be gentle on those wrists, elbows and shoulder sockets (see the third picture above). Keep eye contact, smile at each other.

When your partner does an underarm turn, let her hand rotate in yours while still giving her enough power to do her turn(s) (see the fourth picture above).

Listen to Swing, Samba, Mambo and Rumba and Merengue music. Unless you can tap your feet to the beat and emphasize the first beat, you're going to have trouble staying on the beat. Afro-Cuban rhythms can be very sophisticated and complicated. Tito Puente's music is a good example. Only repeated listening and toe-tapping will make you comfortable with the various rhythms.

Mambo is particularly difficult, especially the way it is taught now. It used to be taught (back in the fifties) with a left or backward lead step on the first beat so that the backward rocking step naturally fell on the second beat, like in the Cha Cha. Now they teach you to hit that second beat on your forward rocking step which, unless you are very familiar with the music, can be daunting.

See dancing on the 2 beat by Paul Pellicoro.

The Role of Inertia in Ballroom Dancing

As published at
Special thanks to Rene Zgraggen who sent in the following:

One term which seems to be absent from the dance vocabulary is 'inertia', yet it is such an important concept, both for the leader and the follower. Inertia dictates that a body will not deviate from its current state (speed, direction, rotation) unless influenced by an outside force.

Just as it would be impossible to steer a car or a bicycle if they changed speed and direction on their own, so it is impossible to properly lead unless the follower provides inertia, i.e. her body will not change speed, direction or rotation (and in the case of dancing, also rhythm and pattern), unless the leader overcomes that inertia.

Even when starting up, the leader has to overcome the 'at rest' inertia, using his body to change his partner's  'at rest' state and get her moving in the desired direction, at the desired speed.

I know that tons has been written about leading and following. However, sometimes a slightly different view can be useful. Especially if nothing else seems to help.

Mariann Cattaletto, the publisher of adds he following: This got me to think about dancing as Applied Physics and it can be a great help to dancers with a scientific background.

The law of inertia states that bodies in motion tend to stay in motion and bodies at rest tend to stay at rest, unless acted upon by an external force.

Leaders, YOU are the external force that must act upon the "body" (the follower) to put the follower into motion when starting a dance. Rene Zgraggen covers this quite well in his writings above.

It is also important to remember that once the leader sets the follower into motion, she will CONTINUE in that motion until she is acted upon again to stop and/or change direction.

Followers, it is important for you to remember that you are the "body" and must WAIT to be acted upon by the external force (the leader).

With all of this in mind, dancing can be seen as a continual series of applications of external force by the leader to control the movement of the follower according to the Law of Inertia.

Jackie Tally, President of the Birmingham Ballroom Dance Association writes:
Great way to think about leading and following. It's true, and when the man is a little late with his outside force, everything falls apart.

One more thought about the subject:
What inertia provides is predictability. The follower is conformable in the knowledge that unless the leader exert some force, she can confidently continue moving at the current speed, direction, and pattern without fear of unpredictable movements or changes in direction by her partner.

The leader is comforted by the knowledge that his partner will not deviate from the current motion unless he applies a lead (a force). He does not have to worry about unpredictable movements or change in direction by his partner.

And when both partners are comfortable, they dance and look better on the dance floor.

Learning to Dance
The three most important rules in learning to dance are: PRACTICE, PRACTICE and PRACTICE. Unless a step or variation is "in your bones" so that you can execute it without thinking and without hesitation, consistently and with many different partners, you're not quite there yet. If you have a willing partner, repeat the same step several times and see what works best. Talk to your partner. He/she may have suggestions that may help you both.

Mariann Cataletto of calls it "reaching the click point" when suddenly, everything falls into place and you feel elated at being able to do the dance step without effort or concentration. She compares it to being "on top of the world".

Don't be embarrassed or annoyed if you make an error. Laugh it off and try again. After all, it's supposed to be fun.

To start your learning experience, join some dance classes. It's a relatively cheap way of getting your feet wet. You'll also get to meet other aspiring dancers. In many classes, partners are frequently switched. This will give you the opportunity to dance with different partners.

Sooner or later, however, you will need to take private lessons if you really want to improve your skills. Choosing the right dance teacher is very important. If you know other people who take private lessons, talk to them and find out what they like of dislike about their teacher.

Most teachers are honorable and ethical and will do their best to teach you how to dance. Unfortunately, there are a few whose behavior is objectionable. They are principally concerned with making as much money from you as possible. They will purposely hold you back so you will buy more lessons. Some of them will continuously try to push you into buying more and more lessons. Prepay for only a few lessons when you start with a new teacher. When the initial series of lessons are exhausted, you can then decide whether to stay, or look for another studio. But even once you're happy, don't buy very large blocks of lessons.

Ballroom Dancing is an amazing Feat
When you think about it, ballroom dancing is quite an amazing feat. It enables two perfect strangers to move around a crowded dance floor, in very close proximity, in perfect time with the music, and to execute intricate patterns, without bumping into other dancers or into each other. All this, while at any particular time the follower has no idea what the leader is going to do next, and the leader may have no idea what the follower is capable of. To top it off, they accomplish all this while looking comfortable and graceful.

Dance students are often frustrated and find learning difficult. It is, and it should be. Only a very small percentage of the population is capable of doing what they are trying to achieve.

Shoes, Socks and Floor Problems
These hints were passed along to me from various dance friends. They are very useful.

From a friend who finishes dance floors, he first puts a sealer on a new wood floor and then uses a standard wood wax and buffs it with a machine.

Someone told me that you should not use marine varnish because it never totally hardens so the floor will be sticky.

I've always heard that Min Wax (not sure about spelling) is the best for dance floors. Seals, shines but is not slippery.

What to use for slippery floors:
Go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy a roll of non-skid tape (used on stairs so people don't slip). Cut a small piece and put on the bottom of your shoes. It has a self-stick side and will last for at least a whole evening. It's
a rubber material so isn't harmful to most floors.

Now we have one more MUST bring item for dancing! I heard this via Liz who got the info from the Tracy Harmonds. They suggested buying the nylon bands sold in the sock dept, to wear under women's mule type sandals. These are then place around the shoe to cover the bottom ball/spin area - for the folks that used them, they held up great and can be used again. Worked like magic to reduce floor stickiness over a coaches, jazz oxford, or boot. Plus it gives the stylish retro appearance of spats to her ensemble ;)

If you have new shoes and have a blister, cut a piece of panty liner (it is sticky on one side) and place it over the blister. It will pad and protect the area so you can continue to dance if a Band-Aid isn't enough padding. Of
course, if you're a guy, it might not be too cool to carrying around panty liners. LOL

Change your socks a lot during those dance weekends: Here's why the "changing the socks" tip works. The primary causes of blisters are shoes that are too tight and cotton socks. The tight shoes is self explanatory, however, the ban on cotton socks is a surprise to active people (dancers, walkers, runners, etc) because we've always thought that cotton is the material of choice. Problem with cotton is that it's highly absorbent (just check your bag of  cotton balls where it says, "Highly absorbent cotton balls" right on the front. Well, guess what we don't want on our feet? Highly absorbent cotton socks. Cotton socks hold the moisture next to your feet. After a while of dancing, the friction builds up and friction plus wet socks equal blisters. That's the reason that changing your socks often will work fairly well.

There is another option - ThorLo socks - a race walking teacher's favorite brand. ThorLo socks have no cotton in them at all. They are made with a fiber that wicks moisture away from your feet, so they stay nice and dry. My students love ThorLo socks, however they are a little thicker than normal, so they take up a little more room which may mean that you need a bigger dance sneaker. Probably a good idea because most people are wearing their dance sneakers way too small, which is the other reason for blisters. Too tight dance sneakers also cause numb, tingling toes, foot cramps, and tired, achy feet. ThorLo socks are a little pricey - regular price is $12 at your local sports store. My students get their ThorLo socks by mail order. $6.99 per pair at Sports and More in Alabama. Call toll free 1-800-397-5480. The owner is Donnie. If your order is at least $45, shipping is free.

Developing Muscle Memory
Do not look at your feet when dancing. To learn how to dance involves the development of muscle memory which enables you to execute patterns almost automatically. Looking down prevents muscle memory development and should be avoided.
How to dress for Dancing

When dressing for dancing, consider not just appearance, but also the comfort and safety of you and your partner. What you wear should make it easy and enjoyable for you and your partner to dance. Here are a few suggestions...

Wear dance shoes - never sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, or shoes with rubber or spongy soles which can stick to the floor during turns and spins and cause ankle and knee injuries. If you don't have dance shoes, wear dress shoes with leather or another non-stick sole.

Ladies: avoid dresses with baggy sleeves, or sleeveless dresses cut low in the armpit. Your partner's hands may get caught in baggy sleeves, especially during fast swings or Latin dances, and it can be very embarrassing for a gentleman if his hand slides through an oversized arm hole and ends up inside his partner's blouse (no gentleman would do this on purpose, of course, but ...). Also, wear skirts or dresses which allow enough room to move comfortably. Tube skirts or other very tight dresses can restrict your movement and make it either uncomfortable or downright impossible to execute various patterns.

Gentlemen: don't carry loose change, keys, or other bulky items in you pockets while dancing. If you don't have a place to store them, carry them in the left pocket of your trousers, where they are less likely to bruise your partner. And never dance with you cell phone, PDA, blackberry, leatherman, sword, or other tools and devices hanging from your belt - the Inspector Gadget look has no place on the dance floor, and it won't kill you to be off your electronic leash for a few minutes.

Take a little time when you're getting ready to go out and cut the rug to consider not just how you'll look, but how your clothing and accessories will affect your dancing.

The Studio One Review, Number 170, September 29,2006

  feet.gif (10284 bytes)      

Happy dancing