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Let’s not be Creepy

Partner dancing can be a tricky world to play in. We are told to have good connection, to be expressive and playful. We get caught up in the moment, the music and in the arms of a person we feel amazing connection with. And yet, there are boundaries. We must not forget common sense and social cues. Yes, the dance floor is our playground, and we still have to play nice.

  • During a group class, what is and is not considered appropriate for the dance being taught should be addressed. Expectations need to be set from the start. We need to tell people that the groin is not a connection point and remind them not to breathe heavily in their partner’s ear.
  • Tell people how to address inappropriate situations if they occur. Everyone should know how to intensify their frame to create distance and how to break into open position. Provide ideas on how to verbally communicate discomfort to their partner. Ensure people know who to talk to at the venue if they feel weird about something happening on the dance floor.
  • If you accidentally do something inappropriate, say something! Acknowledge it and apologize. It happens. We touch things we did not mean to. I’ve done everything from punching a guy in the stomach to cupping a guy’s groin during a sugar push gone wrong. Just own up to it and show the person that it wasn’t intentional.
  • Feel free to move someone’s hand to where you want it placed on your body. If their hand is lingering near your butt, take their hand and say, “I need your hand up here”. Some people, especially beginners, may not be aware of what they are doing and will appreciate the correction. Encourage people to take control in these cases and speak up.
  • If possible, don’t teach an intimate embrace in a beginning class. Start with open (or practice) embrace. It creates too much opportunity for weird stuff to happen accidentally or intentionally. I personally consider closed embrace to be an intermediate level skill that simply isn’t necessary or appropriate for someone just learning how to dance. Closed embrace requires extra mindfulness, awareness and technique that a total beginner dancer probably isn’t ready for quite yet.
  • Post the venue’s code of conduct inside the venue. Cover what is (and is not) considered appropriate and who to talk to if an issue arises. Direct people to talk to the person hosting the room, the instructor or the DJ – one whom should be easily found if needed. These people can also help monitor the room to address situations, so it helps if they can all be briefed on how things should be handled if they witness something needing intervention. (continued below)

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Following are a few things that don’t get talked about much, but probably should:

  • The way a person dances with one person does not represent how he or she will dance with someone else. If two people are having a deeply intimate, sexy dance, that does not mean that either of them will dance that way with someone else. Let the closeness of the dance develop and unfold organically. Sometimes after a dance, I’ll ask the guy, “Was that too much? Should I dial that back a bit?”. Have open conversations to determine what you are both comfortable with doing during a dance.
  • Some people enjoy a kiss on the cheek as a greeting, farewell or thank you. If you are going to do a cheek kiss, keep it sweet and innocent, not lingering and suggestive. Don’t kiss on the mouth unless you are in a relationship with that person. If someone is surprised by a kiss on the mouth (or if they dodge it), you likely creeped them out.
  • Unless someone has told you they are okay with caresses on your arm, back or in your hair, just don’t go there. If someone is overly touchy, break into open position. You can also simply say, “That’s more touch than I’m okay with”. If you initiate touch and someone pulls away or blocks it, it’s not welcome.
  • What happens on the dance floor does not represent feelings off of the dance floor. Romantic interest should be explored off the floor and not during a dance. The dance itself really needs to be a safe space for both people to play, be expressive and immerse themselves in the energy of the dance – and then walk away 3 minutes later to do the same with someone else.


Part of what makes partner dancing such a tricky world is that we need to listen to our partners body language during a dance as well as their lead or follow. The social cues are always there, and we all need to be listening for them.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to two things: having common sense and honoring social cues.

Lastly, if we can’t have open conversations about what we are doing on and off the floor with someone, then something creepy is probably happening. And no one should ever hesitate to speak up in these cases because a true predator banks everything on the hope that no one ever speaks up.

Being an Honest Dance Partner

Last week I jumped into a beginning tango class when I noticed they were short on followers. The first guy I rotated to looked at my fancy-schmancy tango shoes and said, “You’ve done this before”, to which I affirmed. He lit up and say, “Great – I’m in good hands then”.

I saw a slight buzz kill when I smiled and said, “Actually, I will follow exactly what you lead. Otherwise, you won’t learn anything.” I was kind – but intentionally blunt – so he understood my intention. He got it right away and smiled with understanding when I only did part of what he led. Later he thanked me and expressed how helpful that was.

Most ladies show up in a class and execute the move – regardless of what the lead does. The ladies do their part, the lead does his but they aren’t connected. They just happen independently of each other at roughly the same time so it ends up looking like a successful execution. At the end, the lead is smiling because he thinks he did it right and the girl is making a mental note to avoid this particular guy once open dancing starts.

Basically, the guy pays $15 to develop delusions of competenceAnd we wonder why people don’t get better despite all the classes they take.

So ladies, speak up. Tell the lead what you are feeling. Class time is feedback time. If you didn’t truly feel the lead, tell him that. Ask him to give you a stronger lead. If you don’t know what was wrong, ask him to experiment together on various adjustments.

Leads, if she didn’t execute what you expected, ASK HER what she felt. Don’t assume she just didn’t do the move correctly. Please seek to understand what she experienced especially if you’re not sure why it didn’t go right.

Did she feel the lead?
Was it clear enough?
Did she feel it was safe to execute?
Was she able to execute her part?

Followers don’t execute moves for a variety of reasons – and not just because we are confused, incompetent or thinking about unicorns. If I don’t feel safe doing it (i.e., the guy is trying to dip me but I sense he doesn’t really “have” me) I’m not going for it. Sometimes the guy has me on the wrong foot when he starts the big move. Sometimes he feels so ungrounded I’m just trying to protect myself from falling over. Sometimes he’s skipping a critical part that my movement is contingent upon. Those little things might render me “unable” to do the move.

So ladies, tell him what you need if something isn’t working. Focus on what you want or need instead of what he did wrong. 

I believe in being an honest follow by following precisely what is led (yes, this will frustrate the lead, but no one said learning is easy). Being a true partner means actively contributing to both people learning the move and the technique being taught.

Remember, if the guy isn’t leading a move correctly, you aren’t able to learn the move properly either. Participate. Communicate. Help the guy figure it out with you so you both get something meaningful out of the class. Because that’s what you are both paying for. Unless you really are just seeking delusions of competence.

Photo by: Bryce Richter

Photo by: Bryce Richter

It’s Not Just a Resume

Many candidates make the mistake of treating their resume as solely a summary of their professional background. Your resume is much more than what you bring to the table. Your resume represents a demonstration of your skills, abilities and business acumen.

Do you realize that your resume is the first work product you provide to a potential employer? This is why employers are turned off when they see typos, poorly constructed sentences and inconsistent formatting. Most professions require you to have strong communication skills. Therefore, it is critical that your resume demonstrates your ability to present important information clearly, concisely, and professionally.

Don’t have an eye for aesthetics or the wordsmith mastery of a professional writer? Seek the help of a resume expert or take the time to study professionally written resumes.

Take a hard look at your resume and ask yourself whether it truly represents the quality of the work you will do for a new company. Is it customized for the position you are applying for? If so, it shows you are going above and beyond – which is exactly what an employer wants to see in your very first work product.

Your resume is an indicator of how savvy you really are in technology. If you don’t know Word very well, it will be obvious by your resume. Your resume shows the employer how strong your basic computer skills are. Employers expect candidates to have solid skills in basic programs like Word. If you need to develop skills in this area, check out for tutorials in a wide variety of software programs.

If your career involves design, communication or presentation, your resume will show your level of talent in those areas. Does your resume look good? Read easily? Is it well written? Remember, this is the first sample of your work that the employer is seeing.

If your resume has long sentences, big blocks of dense text, small margins and excessive use of italics, they  won’t have much faith in your ability to communicate effectively and professionally.

Your resume is an executive summary. Craft your resume with the assumption that a senior executive (or a recruiter with 30 seconds) will be reading it. Don’t write your resume as a series of past job descriptions. Avoid the temptation to show the entire scope of what you’ve done over your career.

Employers aren’t impressed by the scope of what you’ve done; they are impressed by the relevance of what you’ve done. Eliminate fluff, obvious details, and anything totally unrelated to the needs of the company or position. Don’t tell the whole story; keep the details relevant (and save something to discuss in the interview).

Too much detail and fluff distracts the reader from catching your key selling points. A few missing details may be exactly what is needed to prompt a phone call to learn more about you – which is exactly the result you want.

Many people wonder why nothing happens after they send out a slew of resumes. Take a moment and assess your resume against these considerations. The resume says quite a bit about you as a candidate, so make sure it demonstrates what you truly bring to the table.


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