Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Marriage Matters: Dancing Away

Being on my own gets a little awkward when my husband is out of town, sometimes.  It can be awkward because when you hang out with people and you're on your own, but you're married.  Even having a harmless conversation with somebody can sometimes feel like flirting.  If you do it while you are dancing at a wedding, it seems even creepier.  At the wedding I went to last weekend, I'm not sure whether it was appropriate of me to grab a couple of the groomsmen (who had dates with them who were refusing to dance) and drag them out on the dance floor for slow or slow-ish songs, but I felt comfortable enough doing it and their girlfriends/fiances were right there, so I thought it was okay.  I spent several years ballroom dancing to slow songs with people that aren't my husband, so I really don't think it's weird.  When you are married, or in a relationship, and you dance with somebody else, there is an appropriate distance between the two dancers - you should be close enough to have a conversation, but it is never okay to whisper in somebody's ear.  I'm pretty strict about this distance, and I've never liked having somebody get up in my space when I'm dancing with them - but apparently some people do not agree.

In certain types of ballroom, certain types of guys will get extremely close to you.  This has a lot to do with form.  But it also has a way of making a lot of women extremely uncomfortable.  Theoretically, you should be able to hold a dinner plate between your chests without it falling.  Not wanting to dance like this with people that aren't my husband is one of the reasons I don't really enjoy going out ballroom dancing anymore. I enjoy dancing with our friends, who are all married and respect the appropriate distance, but not strangers who think it is okay to pull me in extremely close.  

At the wedding last weekend, there was a gentleman there who clearly had some ballroom experience, or thought he did, and kept trying to "teach" me dance steps.  We had not met during any of the other wedding festivities, but I like a good dance party and I was out on the floor, and he was partying pretty hard all night, so we wound up dancing.  I was fine with this when we were two feet apart, but he kept grabbing me and pulling me to him to try to have me "follow" him.  Having taken several years of ballroom classes, either he was the worst leader in the world or he was just trying to dance extremely close.  This is why you need a wingwoman, by the way, because I sent my friend a desperate eyebrow gesture and she immediately came and saved me.  Later, at the bar, I was ranting about his obnoxious behavior and commented that I don't think he realized I was married.  "I mean, shouldn't you at least do a ring check before trying to dance like that with somebody?" I asked my equally baffled friends, who both nodded.  

I can't help wondering whether this would have been different if my husband was in attendance.  If just clearly marking that I was with somebody would have helped, instead of appearing single.  I've definitely gotten stuck in the creepydance situation before, and my husband is not nearly as useful as my wingwoman, but I feel like the situation is less likely to happen if I have somebody else to slow dance with.  

Does anybody else have issues with personal space and dancing? How close is too close? Do you dance with men that aren't your husband, or women who aren't your wife, ever?  Am I a total prude?  Should I just wear a big crinoline so that nobody can get near me?  


  1. My husband does not like to dance. So I take any opportunity to dance with other men. I'm not particularly uncomfortable dancing very close, as long as the dancing in and of itself is not extremely sexual or as long as hands are not inappropriately placed on my body. I'll back up and request space if the type of dancing is more sexual, and I will shoot down my dance partner if he starts getting handsy. But for ballroom or salsa, I don't mind getting close.

  2. This is one reason (albeit of many) I started getting uncomfortable with acting, because getting all close with someone else, even onstage, just started to feel a little ooky. But like Jacqueline said, I think it largely depends on the professionalism of the person you're dealing with. I don't mind dancing close with someone who actually knows what they are doing and is clearly doing it for the dancing fun bit, because it doesn't feel quite so intimate.