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Dance Touch

Touch is necessary for Street Latin & Caribbean partner dance styles. Depending on your style of dance, it can be anything from an open handhold to full body contact. Those contact points may also change or evolve, and those connection points may ask for specific physical responses from a partner. These touches are a type of dance-touch. They’re how we communicate with each other, for the purposes of creating an interesting, fun, and safe dance.

But, there’s another type: non-dance touch. Non-dance touch is any touch that you don’t feel is part of dancing. It can be sexual, or completely platonic. These are touches that don’t serve to heighten or contribute to the experience of the dance.

Dance-touch refers to the physical connection we make with our dance partner, which can range from a simple open handhold to complete full-body contact. It encompasses not only what we touch but also how we touch.

The nature of dance-touch is highly individual and subjective. For one person, dance-touch may involve intense eye contact, synchronized breathing, and complete bodily contact. However, for someone else, that same level of physical contact may fall outside the realm of dance-touch and instead be considered non-dance touch.

One's perception of dance-touch can also change over time, depending on factors such as the dance style, personal comfort level, and experience. For instance, new dancers may perceive close body contact as non-dance touch, while experienced dancers may consider it a type of dance-touch. Moreover, the standards for physical touch can differ between dance styles such as Salsa, Bachata or Kizomba.

Non-dance touch refers to any physical touch that feels out of place or inappropriate within the context of a dance. Every individual and dance genre has its own threshold for what qualifies as non-dance touch.

The most typical experience of non-dance touch in social dancing arises when something feels sexually suggestive, which is considered a non-dance function, within a dance that is intended to be non-sexual (from that person's perspective).

What is Acceptable Touch?

Sensual dance styles are not inherently sexual, and it's crucial for people to recognize the distinction and understand the rules. One can typically learn these rules in high-quality dance classes. Bachata and Kizomba are usually considered sensual dance styles, but even Salsa, Mambo & Cha Cha may be included in certain circumstances.

Physical behaviors can differ significantly between dance communities and individuals regarding what qualifies as dance touch versus non-dance touch. Also there is intention behind the touch to be aware of. This list may offer some insight into what types of touches are likely to be viewed as acceptable or not.

Green - Acceptable for all partner dance styles

- Standard dance handholds and light arm touches

- Open hold, or close hold with some space between partners

- 'Syncing' with your partner in open hold

- Smiling

Yellow - Acceptable with most partners; almost always acceptable in sensual dances

- Close hold with minor body contact

- Sensual movements, waves, and rolls with space between partners

- Touching the shoulders, mid-back, and side of hip / ribcage

Orange - Acceptable with some partners in sensual dances; usually not acceptable in non-sensual dances.

- Body connection (as defined by that genre)

- Isolations, rolls, and sensual movements that make physical contact

- Head to Head connection (side of the head/forehead only)

Purple - Most partners will consider this non-dance touch

- Touching the neck, hair, leg, stomach

- Entwining the fingers

- Rolling your faces

Red - Not dance touch

- Touching private areas of you partner

- Biting, licking, or exchanging bodily fluids

- Heavy breathing in the ear or making aroused noises

- Touching the face with your hands

- Running your hands over your partner's body

- Making your partner touch their own body with their hands - Caressing Hands

Partner Reactions

Determining whether someone is comfortable with a particular touch, regardless of whether it was intended as dance-touch or not, can be difficult. It's also essential to understand that just because someone goes along with the touch or stands there while being touched doesn't necessarily indicate that they enjoy it.

Even in those instances, it's possible to tell when your partner has disengaged from a touch. The most common indications of invasive touch are:

  • Pushing the partner away

  • Leaning away or resisting a movement

  • Avoiding eye contact

  • Looking at or moving away from the offending point of contact

  • Adjusting the point of contact, including physically removing your hand

  • Completely disengaging or a sudden increase in tension

  • A disappearing smile or even an actively unhappy expression

  • Vanishing styling or expression

  • Extremely neutral or cautious body language

If you sense that your partner may not be comfortable with a certain touch, we recommend trying a different approach. It can be challenging to discern if someone is simply shy or genuinely uncomfortable, even if you're well-versed in reading body language. If you find it difficult to gauge your partner's response, we suggest altering your behavior instead of pushing their boundaries. Gradually increasing physical touch as you establish trust and comfort with your partner is a more effective strategy. Furthermore, unless your partner is uneasy with all forms of physical touch, there are still plenty of ways to connect with them without causing discomfort. Stick with those until your partner becomes more comfortable with you.

Code of Conduct

Salsa Latina is dedicated to maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for all of our students. We prioritize providing a space where every person can enjoy the many benefits of dance without fear of discrimination, harassment, or any other form of inappropriate behaviour...... read more >

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