Question by User Pau96
I was telling my friend about my night out at a Latin club and I was complaining about some dancers getting too close and dancing bachata sensual as an excuse to seduce girls. To that he replied that it’s up to women to step back and not let men get too close. It might sound silly, but I have no idea how to keep distance and continue dancing, as it’s the man the one who leads and decides how close you’re going to dance. Do you have any tips? I wouldn’t like to stop dancing with these dancers, but I don’t want to stick to strangers either…
From the leads perspective, what I have experienced to be good signals:
Hand on the front side of his shoulder (or torso) Yes, this one was mentioned before. The hand on the front side is a well known signal to keep the distance. Sadly many beginners do not know this (small women tend to put it there in sensual hold and then wonder why I move away!). You cannot really get into a cuddly hold like this. So the guys who see cuddling as a cooperative thing will react near instantly, if done right. (The other ones can be discarded.) Strictly seen as long as your hands do not touch his back side, he has no right to state, that it is wanted to move closer. If the man moves closer you can actually push him away. You are in a more effective position to use the push away force than he is to pull you. So he actually needs to use quite some power to pull you closer to him, if you are doing this. If he insists on moving/pulling closer and actually uses pressure, change the position into his face – rapidly, producing a loud, smacking sound. Then leave him on the floor. But be aware, if you already start with the hand there, before even a closed hold is reached, that signals that you either have no clue (= easy target) or are totally disinterested (= dance lost).
frame tension The partners build a frame. Even – and specially – in sensual holds. With this frame you can signal yourself if you want to change the position. Also a good frame is necessary to have a non-grinding position with only millimeters of air between your bodies.
general backwards orientation inside the frame His hands should constantly be pulling you to him slightly. Just as a mean of tension. Your frame tension is oriented a bit backwards. No weight, just the tension. This makes you better to lead – specially for sensual moves – and allows you to adjust the distance. A common mistake I see women do is not building the back-hands-frame-tension. On the slightest pull they move forward, which means I have to grab them and actually pull them backwards, or within seconds I will have upper body contact without means to lead more than a bit of grinding (or move back to open hold). For guys who want to grind this is an invitation!
stand upright (not too stiff of course) The first points to touch each other’s bodies are the upper parts – yes, while you are orientated backwards. The hip stays disconnected until last. If you lean backwards this destabilizes your frame and allows for hip – and crotch – connection. A girl pushing her hip into my crotch is something inviting – or for other guys it’s a sign of power, that they can do that to a girl.
be aware where your boobs are Sorry girl, we guys like those things. If they are constantly softly petting me, I might get horny. Horny guys tend to interpret your actions a bit one sided … A thing that typically happens during Merengue, but in other dance too, on close hold passing moves is them petting the inside of my (unclothed) upper arms. So if you don’t want to invite a closer hold, be aware that many guys see this connection point as VERY important.
laying tension of left arm Your left arm in most frames lies on his right arm. (If you simply lay your arms around his neck without distancing your body, you just told him you want a cuddle dance!) Same as with the back tension, the arm tension on a dancer with a decent frame will correct your relative positions. Raise the arm a bit and he will have to raise it too. This works best with an a bit more distanced hold. And vice versa, if you press down his arm with your elbow you can shorten his distance, signaling him, that you actually want upper body contact. (I realized this due to a mid level dancer who insisted I was moving closer all the time. It was the first time she actually met a guy who adjusted his frame to hers and she was baffled when I showed her, that it was actually her leading me into full contact!)
repositioning of his hand Do not allow his hands to embrace you more than you want. And do this early on! (You can always allow or invite him in later.) Once he lays the hand on his back position yourself in the frame in a way that you like. If he ignores it (or over-tries it) use verbal cues or simply reposition his hands using your hands. If he keeps forcing you into an embrace you do not want and already rejected (clearly enough!) leave him alone on the floor. If he uses force, use the quick repositioning of your hand before leaving him on the floor.
move into open hold Well, you simply can move out of his hold and move into 2-Hand open hold. And each time he tries to lead moves, which end in closed hold, you move into open hold again. If he uses pressure and force? Well, there was that move including repositioning of your hand …
start distanced With a stranger – or simply one you do not want to cuddle with right now – start rather distanced. Simply offer a distanced hold at the start. It is normal to get closer during a “successful” Bachata, so if you already start on closed hold, that is again an invitation. Actually for many guys – taken aside the grinders – it is very fulfilling to get the feeling, that he persuaded a woman to move from open hold to a soft closed hold until saying goodbye with a hug, instead of simply grinding for 3-5 minutes and then depart like nothing happened. It feels like you won that girl for you!
Some social methods:
Teach the beginners Many guys in dancer’s puberty might try a bit more and do not understand cues yet. On those a verbal cue might work wonders. I had a phase like that myself…
call out molesters If a guy isn’t just trying to get closer but really molesting, call him out to the security (or whoever is in charge). So at least he does not molest other women.
teach other women Scorch the molesters earth. If they get rejected over and over, while the nice guys can get sleazy dances with friendly approaches, many of them might give up. Together with a kicking-out policy this can work wonders.
And last but not least:
emancipate No matter what backwards guys from some (de-)developing countries (or simply other machos) say. If you don’t want something done to you, act like that. You do not owe the guys nothing! Most of the good dancers will actually compliment you, if you reject the molesting guys – unless you simply reject any beginner etc, then you simply are a snob. Give clear signs, no passive aggressive cues. Many guys would like to grind but are totally ok with dancing less grindy. Take part in the selection process – either by asking yourself or by actively inviting (i.e. smiling to) guys you would like to dance with. Take actively part in the dance and don’t be just a meat doll!
I think in dancing everything that hurts nobody and both partners want is ok and I have very intimate Bachatas regularly, but whenever I have the impression, that my partner simply does not know about frame etc, I simply move a bit into distance. That is a point, which differs a respectful guy with interest in more from one, who simply is looking for an easy target to subdue. Many of the techniques to keep a man on distance can be reversed and state clearly, that you want a closer hold. This way you can state what you want without overstepping his borders – an experience that lead me to be VERY careful with older and slightly drunk ladies.
Have you seen that you put a hand on his shoulder? Put your arm on his chest, and your elbow on the end of the chest, so you will always have a half arm of distance (also it is easier to mark things to make, and it’s possible to mark with our chest too),
See Video 1
Bachata 102 (Tips for Leads)
I found a youtube video that shows what you can do in those situations
Use your left hand to dictate how close you want to be to the other person
I disagree with your friend, the best leads look out for their follow whether that means not running them into other dancers or just making sure they are comfortable. My favorite leads are the ones who say things like ‘was that move ok?’
When I find myself dancing with someone I’m not comfortable with in closed position I’ll keep my hand towards the front of his shoulder, think upper pec area rather than his back. It’s a subtle way to give me more control of distance and often does the job of sending a message to the lead that I’m not totally comfortable. You can also be vocal about these things, make it clear, your lead shouldn’t be offended by that. If you don’t want to be direct, say you really want to focus on footwork tonight.
Sorry you had that bachata experience, I’ve been there too, it’s way too common.
keep you elbows inside of his elbow… keeps him from pulling you too close.
machismo dictates that the man leads, and the woman follows. latin culture is not politically correct and affirmative consent is not a thing in most of the world (especially not in latin culture). american lefties who think otherwise are culturally oblivious, xenophobic to an entire culture’s history, and racist as fuck to tell another culture they’re wrong and need to comply with extremist political beliefs from a foreign country.
the determinant on accepting sexual advances is simply whether she finds him attractive. a guy she finds attractive and a guy she finds unattractive can literally do the exact same thing, but the latter guy is “creepy” while the attractive guy is “confident and assertive.” not saying it’s fair… it’s just reality.
that doesn’t mean women should just stand there and get groped by men they find unattractive. if she’s not feeling him, when coming in from a spin, she should put her hand against his chest to stop the spin and keep some distance. if he goes to hip grind, she can put her left hand against his left shoulder, and turn away back to the right while leaning away from him. some girls even tease with a stripper bow, and he has to move forward to be on her. at this point, she’s backleading and he should take the fucking hint. if he’s really bad about not realizing she’s not interested, she should just say thanks and step away for the dance and never dance with the guy again. that’s how latin culture works. the man makes an advance, and it’s on the woman to accept or reject. affirmative consent does not exist. arguing otherwise is oblivious to latin culture and outright racist.
Btw, I also had to support females getting close, in that case I mark with my hands or mix the bachata with some salsa figures, so you don’t loose the rhythm and you feel comfortable!