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Dos and Don’ts of Sexy Ballroom Dance Moves

I love how ballroom dancing lets you bring out parts of yourself you’d rarely reveal in public otherwise. Fun as it is to “get down with your bad self” however, certain ballroom dance moves can be done in a way that make your partner uncomfortable and alienate future partners as well.

It sucks just as much to be labelled and judged on the dance floor as it does anywhere else. So while you are exploring your own sensuality, keep the following table in mind to make sure your ballroom dance moves don’t accidentally cross the boundary into raunchiness.

Ballroom Dance Move Do Don’t
Distance from partner Keep at least a half foot between you and your partner during rhythm/Latin dances. Some leg and chest contact is fine in smooth/standard, but stay offset to the left of your partner Connect your hips to your partner in rhythm/Latin dances (sometimes okay in bachata or kizomba). Don’t connect directly in front of your partner in smooth/standard
Maintaining distance Use a gentle pressure on your partner’s upper arm or side of body to indicate you would like more space, and respect your partner’s wishes for the same Make repeated attempts to pull your partner towards you
Hand on back (leaders) For leaders, keep your right hand on your partner’s upper or mid-back. The “heel” of the palm can connect to the side of the follower under the arm Let your right hand drift to the follower’s lower back or lower. Don’t let your hand slide further under their arm, as this is very close to their chest
Switching from closed position to open position Use your right open palm to trail along the side of the follower’s left arm to their hand. Contact with the tip of the middle finger only can also be okay, if your partner is comfortable with you Squeeze your partner’s arm as you slide your hand down. Avoid sliding along the underside of their arm, as this may put you in contact with their chest
Chest contact (smooth/standard) Leaders keep a light pressure on your follower’s back and let them set the distance. Followers gently curve spine away from leader Pull your partner into you, or push your chest into your partner
Where to touch Touch the back of the head, sides of the body or hips, the centre of the chest or sometimes the belly, and the sides or tops of the arms Touch you or your partner’s erogenous zones (face, breasts, butt, groin, thighs). Some forehead-to-forehead contact is fine in kizomba or Argentine tango
Armstyling – Sides of body Use open palms, keeping the fingers splayed, as you brush down the side of your torso Close your hand like you are grabbing yourself – and stay away from the front of your chest, especially you ladies!
Armstyling – Contact with partner Let your palm deliver the pressure to your partner, keeping the fingers bent away if possible “Grab” your partner by pressing through the fingers – this can be seen as very forward or possessive (unless you are going for that in a performance)
Latin hip styling Use Cuban motion, making rotations, figure 8s, or side to side movements as appropriate Use undulations (except for nightclub styles) or hip thrusts (not okay anywhere)
Hand-to-hand contact Make a neat clasp, keeping your thumb off to the side Squeeze or rub your partner’s hand with your thumb. This is a common nervous reaction, so keep an eye out for it!

Of course, these tips for your ballroom dance moves apply specifically to a) dancing in a public place, b) dancing with someone you are not in a romantic relationship with, and c) using correct ballroom technique. If you are two consenting adults messing around in the kitchen, go nuts! Otherwise, keep those ballroom dance moves classy – not raunchy.

About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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