"How Much Eye Contact is Too Much in the Latin Dances?"
Imagine looking directly into a stranger's eyes, and singing this song while dancing the Bachata:
Every bond you break, every step you take, I'll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay, I'll be watching you
Why The Latin Dances?
Let's get caught up. Dances like Salsa, Bachata, Rumba, Bolero, Cha-Cha, Mambo, and Zouk are considered "Latin Dances". They can be suggestive, sensual, and in close proximity to your partner (and if you've seen the Bachata and Zouk, that's pretty close). Because of these factors, these dances can quickly disrupt your comfort zone.
Too much eye contact can cause your comfort zone, and all those around you, to disappear entirely.
3 Reasons Why Eye Contact Can Feel Awkward in Latin Dances
1. They Are Sexy
These dances are designed to move your body in a way you'd never move at work (depending on your occupation). With an emphasis on Latin hip movement and body isolations - these dances don't just look sexy, they feel sexy.
2. You Are Close To Your Partner
Dances like salsa, bachata, and merengue are built for a nightclub, not a ballroom. A dance frame will always reflect the amount of space one has in their dance environment. A ballroom has a lot of space, so there's a bigger frame. But a big frame in at a Latin Dance nightclub could start a riot (or an angry stare). Because of this, you are physically closer to your partner with this style of dancing.
3. Moving as a Unit
Hip motion, a close dance frame, and body isolations are all sexy in their own right, but when a leader and follower have the ability to match those attributes - there's a connection. It's the dance equivalent of two singers harmonizing.
3 Reasons We May Stare Too Long
1. For Sexy Reasons
Any of the reasons listed above could cause your "play-it-cool" circuitry to overload, and set your eyes to "Permanent Gaze" mode.
2. You're Thinking
A blank stare is a common accessory to any new activity that requires a bit of brain power. The outside may show that you're staring, but you may just be processing what move you're doing next, the placement of your hands, or just finding the beat of the music.
3. Talking and Dancing is New
This is definitely a symptom of #2, but talking while dancing takes time to develop - even for advanced dancers. The reason? Dancing is a form of non-verbal communication. So conversing can sometimes seem awkward or forced until it becomes a regular part of the social dancing repertoire.
Solutions To Prevent Awkward Eye Contact
There's nothing wrong with eye contact. It's like a firm handshake, or a proper greeting - with the right approach, it's polite. But even a handshake can be too firm, and eye contact can go beyond polite. Here are some tips that can help in any dance environment.
Smiling at your partner is a sign of friendliness and approval. Eye contact without a smile can be a mixed bag. When in doubt, dance, smile, and dance some more.
2. Look Away
Let's get something straight - we aren't suggesting that you look away from your partner in favor of someone else in the room. Looking away can be part of the dance pattern you're executing, or a means of scanning the room to avoid a collision. Doing this can make your turns look sharper, and your movements more definitive.
Talking while dancing is the basis for social dancing. Having a conversation makes eye contact less weird, more polite, and leaves less to the imagination. It takes time, but developing this skill is the best insurance policy to prevent long, awkward staring from occurring.
Pick your spots. There are times when you need to bring out the fine china, and others where that would be overkill (say, at a BBQ). The same can be said for performance dancing versus social dancing. You see, eye contact is usually only a problem when someone is in "performance mode" instead of "social dance mode".
Whether it's eye contact, arm styling, or facial expressions - you've got to pick your spots. The old saying is that the eyes are an invitation to the soul, so just make sure you're inviting them to the right kind of party.
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