Ballroom Dancing Man | How do I keep my shoulder back?

So I guess every dancer has that one thing that holds them back. For some, it’s maintaining head position. For others, it’s staying in time with the music. For me, it’s my damn right shoulder. In order to maintain proper frame, you need to do several things but keeping your shoulders back and down (also known as “locking your lats”), is critical to create the pocket of proper dance space. If this breaks down, then so does the pocket and the man’s movement encroaches on the woman’s and all communication of a proper frame is lost. If I could only master this one element, my whole dancing or level of dancing would change. My instructor has given me a number of exercises to work on this. I have done them every night, but I still seem to be having problems. It’s just when I’m focusing on the shoulder, I’m able to keep it back. The moment that I’m concentrating on footwork, timing, or style, the shoulder problem comes back.

Do any of you have any tips for me? Is it just that I need to continue with the exercises and muscle memory will take over?

Ballroom Dancing Man | Best height for a ballroom dancing man

So you have probably noticed that I talk about my height as a ballroom dancing man. A man’s height influences the length of his strides, the size of his lines, and ultimately, his presence on the dance floor. It’s a fact that taller men are noticed more on the dance floor if for no other reason than the fact that there’s more of them to watch. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword. Just as all of your successes are noticed, so are your failures.

So what is the ideal height for a man dancing ballroom? I would say in addition to the previous statement above, you want to complement your partner. You want your partner to naturally match you stride for stride. This makes for a much more symmetrical dance and uniformity. That’s not to say that partners with more of a height difference can’t be beautiful. My wife and I have about 8 inches between us (when she’s wearing her heels) and we dance beautifully. The height difference doesn’t make that big of a difference because we know each other and have danced with each other so long that she knows the strides I’m about to make and I know what I can give her.

Give me another partner, on the other hand, and all bets are off. Now, that does have a lot to do with me, admittedly. I just know that outside of my primary dance partner, my experience has been that if the skill level is comparable, dance partners closer to your height just feels better than those with more of a difference. You’ll notice I said skill level comparable. This is very important. I’ll take someone a foot shorter than me that can dance to someone exactly my height that cannot.

So take these few pointers and pick wisely, gentlemen. J

Ballroom Dancing Man | How to get your man to dance

I haven’t been dancing for that long, but I do like it. Now it hasn’t always been that way. I’ve fallen victim to the similar trappings that prevent men from getting on the dance floor: not wanting to look foolish, thinking it’s not a masculine thing to do, and just downright fear. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that it’s been quite a journey for me to get where I am. That said, I also have aspirations for competitive ballroom dance. So here are a few pointers on how to get a man to dance.

  1. Appeal to his male ego and let him know that other women are noticing him dance

    Let’s face it girls, yes, your man does want and need you to notice him and think he’s the best in your eyes. That said, any compliment coming from you has a certain bias attached to it. Either they’re trying to make you feel better or trying to steer your behavior in some way. When other women notice you (thus giving a derivative compliment), it means only 1 thing: you look good. Then the ego takes over and any man would then not only want to do more dancing, but may want to improve by taking dance classes with you.


  2. Appeal to his competitive and jealous tendencies

    Now this one’s a little bit more of a tightrope to walk but if done well, it can be quite effective. Let me first say, do not mention how other guys look so good when they dance. If you do that, you will crush whatever confidence he has and he might never dance again. Instead, just be the supportive girl you are and he will notice other men dancing. Then (and this only really works in a dance class setting where it’s expected other men will ask your lady to dance), when another man asks you to dance and he sees how much fun you’re having, he will feel really crappy at first, but then after he cools off his competitive spirit will take over and he will want to be better than this other guy (and all the other guys for that matter). You will then see a newfound dedication in him that you never saw before.


  3. Let your man know when they execute a dance step or song really well

    For this one to work, it has to be real. Partner dancing has so much communication that even if you were to tell him that he’s doing well but your body communicates that you’re still worried about him stepping on your feet, you’ll just lose credibility. But when you honestly and earnestly notice that he’s getting better, let him know. Moreover, when you breathe a sigh of relief when you switch partners and you get your man because he is much better than others, really let him know! I mentioned before about the Equity Theory of Dance where you grade yourself against others so any time you can compare your man against others in a positive way, it will go leagues to build him up to stick with dancing.


  4. Get involved with a dance group socially

    Bonding with your dance group either through organized functions or outside of the dance agenda, getting involved with a group socially is what will cement your man’s commitment to dance. Not only will he not want to be a bad dancer when he dances with other women in the group (thus making him want to practice more), but dance will take on a social circle meaning which is quite powerful. By having dance and dancing well tied to a positive social circle, he will put in the time to get to be a better dancer to maintain that social aspect.


  5. Tie dancing to sex

    OK, this one may be a tad controversial and do with it what you will, but if you want to change a man’s behavior in any aspect including dancing, tie that behavior to sex or a high probability of getting sex. Now, this isn’t a deal where if they will “bear dancing” that there’s sex in it later. No, that’s way too clinical and won’t persist in the long-run. Instead, he will notice if dancing (either in lessons or out on the town) makes you feel sexy and then when you get home you’re all charged up. Your man will associate those two activities and will want to dance not for the sex alone but because he will figure out that dancing makes him look good which, in turn, makes you want him.



    I hope this helps along the way. Just a few things I’ve picked up from a man’s point of view.

Male Ballroom Dancer Confessions | Grease is the word!

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the elements that makes the Arthur Murray program so successful with teaching you to dance is the encouragement to attend the parties. This is what’s closest to a real social dance experience where the guys ask the girls (sometimes vice versa) to dance and they play different music telling you which dance it is. I’ve talked about how these parties really have stressed me out in the beginning but I have learned to appreciate them for how they force you to learn to dance well.

Twice a year, our studio has a set of themed parties. You pay a little bit and they decorate up the dance room, cook some food, and give away prizes. At first, I looked at this concept a bit sideways since we already paid our group classes and we wondered whether or not it would be worth it to “sponsor” further. After experiencing the first one (Mambo themed), we realized it was a great concept, we got our money’s worth, and a neat way for the studio to raise more money (I’m under no misconception about the underlying business model at work here).

The second party was themed “Sock Hop”. So think swing, foxtrot, and Grease Lightning. Now one thing you need to know about me is I absolutely love Grease. When I was a kid, I must have watched it a hundred times and there was a time when I tried to impress a girl by dressing like Danny Zucko. <Yikes!>.

Needless to say, this party turned out to be a whole lot of fun. I dug out a fitted black t-shirt that I hadn’t worn in years (still fits, though), rolled up my jeans, and went to the party. Something interesting happened as soon as I got there. Although my costume idea wasn’t original, I did get an air of confidence about me. Women were approaching me to dance. I was approaching many women to dance. Even though I may not have had all the dance steps, I really didn’t care. I started to actually have fun.

Then the costume contest came. The line up all the people in costume and parade them around. They played “Grease Lightning” and then it was over. Granted, I’m certain I looked a bit foolish, but I started playing out my best Grease scene and dance moves. It was a big hit. The rest of the group were really encouraging me on and for a moment I felt, well, cool. Of course I saw the pictures later and maybe I wasn’t as cool as I was in my mind, but it was a whole lot of fun. And I won! Got a copy of Grease to boot.

I’ll have to put some thought into what real impact this had on my dancing, but I think socially I made a turn.

Male Ballroom Dancer Confessions | This is why the Tango is the best dance alive!

I always knew that the smooth ballroom dances were my favorites. It’s partly because you’re in hold most of the time and it’s partly because it’s in these dances where you get to look and behave as an extremely masculine dancer. So you take those fine qualities and add a seduction to the dance where the woman wants you and hates you at the same time (yes, my friends we’re talking passion here) and you have the Tango. The Tango also allows you to channel any fear and uncertain emotions into a dance where you can literally battle them. Your movements are expected to be sharp. You are expected to dominate your partner (and she is supposed to like it). This dance really spoke to me.

Then, I had the pleasure of seeing a fantastic band at a festival here in town. They are called Bajofondo and they create by far the best Tango music I have ever heard. Their members are from Argentina and Uruguay and their style is electro-Tango, but in a good way.

Below is one of my most favorite songs of theirs: Pa’ Bailar. I hope to perform a Tango solo to this song in one of my upcoming dance competitions.