(That’s what you were really waiting for, isn’t it? Isn’t that what brings you back here?)”Do you swing?” I asked her to dance. She looked up at me slyly, a little shy, from the picnic blanket.
“A little. Salsa I’m better at.”
“Let’s go. Over there?” I nodded to a slight clearing in the crowd nearby.
I can tell a lot about someone by the way they dance. Not the grind-and shimmy club dancing, though that has its own sets of tells, but partner dancing: a fine art.
First, there’s her grip on my hands, her form, her resistance. Her hands should be gently placed over mine, not gripping or clinging on, but soft. There should be enough resistance in her arms to allow her body to be carried by whatever minute movements I make.
Then, there’s how she responds. How her body takes direction, how well our bodies talk to each other.
Last, but not overlooked, is her feet. I can’t see them (nor should she – we should maintain eye contact, ‘dancing cheek to cheek’ as they say), but I can tell where she puts them and I can tell how well she can pick them up, anticipate my movements, follow my body lines.
I’ve danced with women who have been taking classes for months – years – who were not as good follows as those who have never had lessons. It isn’t only the lessons – it’s also compatibility, syncopation, inner rhythm.
This girl at the picnic, we didn’t dance well together. She kept trying to lead, so I would back up and follow, but she wasn’t a very good lead, and kept doing follow moves, which encouraged me to lead. I couldn’t keep clear what was happening between us.
We walked back to the picnic blanket, joking, when the song ended. I knew what she’d be like in bed – awkward, pushy, in control but attempting to be submissive. And honestly, that’s not what I want.
If only I knew what I did want.