Slow Dancing Basics: Tips for Teens

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Don’t Be Intimidated

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The band plays a slow song, and it’s time for a slow dance. It’s bound to happen at any prom or school dance, and it’ll be much less intimidating if you’re prepared. Learn the basics so you’ll feel confident when the moment arrives.

Slow Dancing Arms: Option 1


Think of slow dancing as an extended hug as you and your date sway back and forth. Girls, place your arms on your date’s shoulders or hang them loosely around his neck. Guys, place your hands on your date’s hips or wrap them loosely around her lower back. Remember to leave enough room between you so that you both feel comfortable. If you’re in doubt, simply ask, “Is this ok?”

If you’re dancing with a same-sex partner, you can either make the first choice as to where you feel comfortable putting your arms or you can follow your partner’s lead.

As for head placement, it really depends on what height you and your partner are. If you’re dancing closely, you might be able to rest your head on your date’s chest or over your date’s shoulder. Or you could look at each other. Don’t be afraid to talk or say something to your date if you’re in the mood.


It’s important to stay relaxed, though that is sometimes easier said than done. Your heart might be pounding a million times a minute while you’re wishing you put on more deodorant. Try to control your breathing by inhaling and exhaling steadily. This will help maintain an even heart rate.

Slow Dancing Arms: Option 2

Holding your date’s hand is a more traditional way to sway; your parents and grandparents made slow dancing in this position popular. Something about it seems chivalrous, probably because it allows for a designated space between you and your date’s bodies. So if you’re freaking out over how much space to put between you and your date, this may be the way to go. If you aren’t dating or don’t know each other well, this position will probably be more comfortable.

Guys, put your right hand on your date’s hips or on her mid or upper back. If you’re dating and close, you can wrap your arm loosely around her waist. Then use your left hand to take her hand and hold it up and to the side with your elbow bent. You can choose to hold her hand or lace your fingers into hers. Do whatever you feel most comfortable with. Girls should put their left hand on their partner’s shoulder and hold his hand with their right.


Since there will be a space between you, your heads will likely stay forward, so you can look at each other. Make sure you smile at your dance partner. You can even start a light conversation. This could help you relax.

Slow Dancing Feet: Where to Put Them

Stepping on your date’s toes is obviously something you want to avoid when you’re dancing. Just be cautious of where you put your feet.

Look down at where you and your date’s feet fall when you first join together to dance. This will give you a general idea of how far over you can move your feet without stepping on your date’s toes.


If you’re slow dancing very close together, you can put one foot between your date’s feet and your other foot on the outside of your date’s feet. If you’ve got some space in between, you can put your toes in front of your date’s toes and about an inch off to the side.

If you don’t land any of these foot positions perfectly, it’s OK. When your bodies come together to dance, your feet should naturally fall into place.

If you feel something like a toe underneath your foot, don’t put all of your weight down on it. Simply apologize or say “excuse me” and continue dancing like nothing has happened and try not to fret. It’s happened to everyone who’s ever slow-danced.

Who Leads?

It’s traditional for the guy to lead a slow dance. (This might feel like a social throwback, but someone has to lead and someone has to follow. You can switch this up if you feel like you’d rather be untraditional and both of you agree.) To lead, gently push your partner’s hand in the way you want to go as you also move your body in that direction. Follow the music and move to the beat. To follow, just, yes, follow the moves of your partner. It couldn’t be easier.


How to Sway

Basic slow dancing doesn’t require any fancy footwork, so even the most inexperienced dancer can pull it off.

If you’re nervous about making any sudden movements, just keep your feet planted in one place, make sure your knees are loose, and gently sway using your hips and knees.

If you’re feeling a little more confident, you can subtly lift your feet off the floor. Use these small lifts to turn in a slow circle. Your date will get the hint and move with you.

Remember to keep your elbows loose, too. Dancing when your joints are locked is pretty difficult. Keeping your arms slightly loose will make it easier for you to breathe and sway comfortably.


Slow Dancing Move: The Twirl

If you’re feeling a little adventurous while you’re slow dancing, you can invite your date to twirl. Simply take a step back from your embrace and hold your date’s left arm up in the air with your right arm. The twirl is a pretty common move, so your date should know what’s expected. After the 360 is complete, simply return to your starting position and resume swaying.

Now that you can dance, what to wear?

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