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Etiquette of swing dancing

Close holds with strangers

Regular Lindy Hop, the dominant swing dance, is generally done in a very open hold with little body contact. Swing dancers may therefore have no expectation of getting into a close hold and may wish to positively avoid doing so. Having said that, even Lindy Hop steps can close up occasionally, if the dancers want to, and swing styles such as e Slow Drag can involve anything from a small gap to very extensive contact. If you are thinking of moving to a close hold, you need to be sure that your partner is comfortable with it.

Generally, the etiquette when dancers meet this situation for the first time together is for the leader to 'invite' the follower to close up the space by entering his personal space, taking care that he does not force himself into hers. This invitation should be gentle, the leader being sensitive to what gap, if any, the follower wishes to leave. If a follower wants a close hold, she should also be sensitive to the leader backing away (leaders - especially those who have not danced much - can be as sensitive to personal space as followers).

It should be noted that, even if a woman dancing slow drag wraps herself around her leader as closely as a well-fitting jacket and seems on the verge of a passionate kiss all though the dance, this indicates only that she is a great slow dancer. The leader should not assume it means anything off the dance floor (and nor should anyone watching).