Learning To Dance Before Prom Night

Despite being such a valued skill among young people, hardly anyone is actually taught to dance. But with prom night upcoming, for some, it's now a matter of necessity!

It's sometimes surprising how many people find themselves approaching their graduation before ever learning to dance. It is a skill appreciated in all but actually taught to very few!

Fortunately, dancing is much easier than you initially might fear, and after only a practice session or two, anyone can manage it well enough to join the crowd on prom night. There are two types you'll see at the typical junior high/high school proms: slow dancing, and fast.

Slow dancing - the easier of the two, and perhaps less-feared - is generally comprised of a couple dancing together to slow, mellow music. Customarily, a boy without a partner would observe the girls without partners (on the sidelines, as they are expected to move off the dance floor) and ask one by requesting, "Would you like to dance?" "May I have this dance?" or something similar. Once a girl accepts, they would proceed to a place on the dance floor, where the boy places his hands on the girl's hips (standard) or joins his hands at the small of her back (drawing them much closer, and making it more intimate). It is fine for a boyfriend and girlfriend to dance in the latter position, but for a first-time dancer you may want to start at the hips. (Also, the boy must remember not to let his hands slip down onto the girl's backside, particularly if it's someone he's trying to impress!)

The girl has a few positioning options, most of which involve the placement of her arms on the boy's shoulders: either with hands placed on them and her forearms in between their bodies (less intimate), her hands joined or close to each other behind his neck and forearms resting on his shoulders (standard), or "hugging" him at the neck, her head resting against his shoulder (intimate).

Once they are positioned, they would slowly begin to dance. Unlike decades past, the current standard of dancing is simply a slow revolution around each other, like a figure on a music box. Taking care not to tread on each others' feet, the dancers move slowly in a circle, their speed set by the tempo of the music, and the direction of the turn being whatever they are most comfortable with. (Clockwise is fairly standard.)Small conversation is common at this time but not necessary; one interested in his or her partner might tell them so, and after the music ends, you will want to thank your partner for the dance.

Generally, the music would then change to a faster-paced song. Fast-dancing is open to much more interpretation, which makes it more difficult to describe without witnessing it, but much easier to fake until you've got it down pat. Usually done in large groups or circles of people, the trick to fast-dancing isn't WHAT you're doing, but the speed at which you're doing it. Swaying from side to side, movement of the hips, nodding of the head and swinging of the arms are all legitimate dancing moves that can be combined to make something unique - you'll never see two people dancing the exact same way! It's important to listen carefully to the beat of the music and ensure that you aren't moving too quickly or too slowly, and once you get the hang of it, your confidence will increase. Trying to copy the movements of those around you will also work fine; it'll quickly morph into your own interpretation.

Try not to be stiff, or you'll look and feel awkward, making it even more difficult. Keep in mind that there's no "perfect" way to dance - only the way of those that are relaxed and having fun!

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