Dance and Your Sex Life

dirtydancing copy“Dancing is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music.”

-George Bernard Shaw

It’s no secret that certain dances can really heat things up: think Flashdance, or that go- go dancer at the club last weekend. Ladies, I know you’re thinking about that scene in Dirty Dancing, and though I would thoroughly enjoy being thrust into the air like an angel, this baby would rather be in the corner with Swayze if you know what I mean. But, even more important than getting a little hot on the dance floor, the way we move with our partner can reveal a lot about our relationship preferences and sex lives behind the scenes.

In an article published in Psychology Today, Dr. Peter Lovatt suggests that we communicate the quality of our genes to potential mates through dance. He found that women prefer dancing with men with heightened testosterone levels, and men prefer dancing with women who are at the fertile stage of their cycle. Because there is a direct correlation between our hormonal levels and our preferred dance partner, Lovatt’s study proves that dance can even play a role in our mate selection process!

But, as intriguing as these findings are, we don’t need scientific proof to tell us that there are countless benefits to making dance a part of your relationship. Here are just a few:

1)    The experience of leading and following eachother through a dance builds intimacy and trust in your partnership.

2)    While learning together, both partners must exhibit patience, cooperation, and support: all necessary qualities for a healthy, thriving relationship.

3)    Dancing provides a special attention to physical connectivity and responsiveness, which translates directly into a more satisfying sex life. The knowledge you gain about your body as well as your partner’s provides you with the confidence and ability to satisfy each other’s needs.

Learning to dance with our partner gives us a place to practice these healthy patterns, which in turn, show up in our day-to-day experiences together. Plus, there is no denying that dancing with a partner is an intimate body contact experience, so what better way is there to connect and share time with your lover than holding each other in frame and moving in sync together?

How has dancing positively influenced your relationship? Share below in the comments!

How to Get the Most Out of Your Dance Lessons

As dance instructors, we work tirelessly to give our students the best learning experience possible. However, there are a few things that are out of our control, so we gathered a list of the 9 most important things our students can bring to the table to make their learning process the best it can be.

blogsept copy1) Set Goals with Your Instructor

When meeting with your instructor for the first time, it is important to formulate clear, challenging and attainable goals. As you proceed through the learning process, don’t hesitate to reassess your direction. Learning to dance is a process, and your goals may change at different points in your journey.

2) Start Early

When preparing for an event such as a wedding, start the process of learning to dance early. Because the brain and body process new habits and information over time, learning a new skill can take weeks, months or even years! To ensure a sense of confidence and success, give yourself ample time to prepare.

3) Practice

They say practice makes perfect, and they’re right!  Not only does practice reinforce the skills you learn during your lessons, but also allows you to think less and have more fun out on the floor. When learning to dance, repetition is the only route to building muscle memory. If you do not have a partner to practice with, ask your instructor for steps and techniques to work on solo.

4) Don’t Go Hungry

You wouldn’t go to the gym on a full or empty stomach, right? Dance is a form of exercise, both mental and physical, so have a small snack before your lesson. Eating lightly will keep you alert and energized through the full hour, and you’ll feel much more accomplished at the end.

5) Wear the Right Shoes

At every lesson, be sure to wear comfortable suede or leather-soled shoes with a supportive arch. Ballroom, swing and Latin dances require you to slide, spin and maneuver lightly on your feet. Rubber soles just won’t cut it. You can find ballroom dance shoes in Chicago at Chicago Dance Supply or simply order online.

6) Take Notes

Students who take notes after each lesson spend more time progressing to new techniques and steps during their lessons and less time repeating what they already learned. Create a notebook for dance, and write down as much as you can recall after each lesson. We recommend reviewing your notes right before your next lesson to keep everything fresh.

7) Dance With a Variety of Partners

Every dancer connects and moves differently, so it’s important to experience a variety of dancers to truly hone your leading and following skills. Try taking lessons with all the BDC instructors and join us for our monthly BYOB dance parties.

8) Take Lessons Regularly

Learning to dance is a lifelong process. Though the skills you learn in your dance lessons will never completely disappear, it is crucial to keep them fresh and to continue building your dance vocabulary. Creating a regular schedule of dance lessons will not only help you stick to your goals, but will also reinforce the techniques you’ve worked so hard on in the past.

9) Leave Your Troubles at the Door and Just Have Fun!

Sometimes leaving daily stress behind can be the hardest thing to do, but when learning something new, starting with a clear mind is always the best way to ensure success. Coming in to each lesson with a positive attitude truly leads to a happier, healthier learning experience.

Do you have any other suggestions? Post below!

7 Tips for the Social Dance Floor

We love dancing the night away in Chicago! Whether it’s a wedding reception, a night club or one of our BYOB practice parties, there are many things to consider before hopping on the dance floor. Here are a few tips on social dance etiquette for the next time you cut a rug with your partner.

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1) Moving Around the Floor

Because some songs call for a variety of different dance styles, dances that travel (Foxtrot, American Tango, Waltz) are done around the outside of the floor in a counter-clockwise direction. Dances that remain in place are done in the center of the floor. For example, foxtrot steps travel around the outside of the floor while swing steps are danced in the center.

2) Hit and Runs

On a crowded dance floor, it is common to bump into the couple dancing next to you. If you’re part of a collision, stop dancing, make sure no one is hurt and apologize. If you are a leader, you ultimately are responsible for where you place your partner, but as a couple, you should both be aware of your surroundings. If you are a follower, you should act as the leader’s back-up set of eyes. If you see a collision about to happen, tighten up your frame and give the leader’s arm a squeeze to let him know you’re in a tight spot.

3) Teaching on the Dance Floor

Just don’t do it! Your partner is there to dance, not to be critiqued by you. If, however, your partner is interested in going over something with you or asks for your opinion, move to a corner or the side of the dance floor to work together.

4) Applause

It’s polite to applaud live musicians at the end of each song and a DJ at the end of their set. They are performing for you, after all!

5) Altoids

Bad breath is bad, enough said.

6) Asking Someone to Dance

Always approach a potential dance partner face-to-face and ask politely if he or she would like to dance. Never grab someone’s hand and pull them onto the floor against their will. At the end of a song, be sure to thank your partner for the dance, too!

7) Saying No

If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to dance with someone who asked you, it’s polite to sit out for the rest of that song.

Any other tips or questions? Leave a comment below!

Wedding Trends: A Country First Dance

Recently, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of couples using a country song for their first dance. Country music is a great choice for a first dance because the lyrics are often romantic and poetic, and couples can dance an entertaining mix of two-step and swing.

According to Billboard, country music’s popularity has been on a steady incline for the past 20 years. Several of the recent American Idol finalists have been country singers, and country really stood out at the 2012 and 2013 Grammy Awards. Clearly, Country music is making a comeback!

Whatever the reason, we’re glad that country music is becoming a popular option for first dances.

Here are some of our favorites:

‘God Gave Me You’ by Blake Shelton – Two Step and Single Swing

‘Wanted’ by Hunter Hayes – Two Step and Single Swing

‘It’s Your Love’ by Tim McGraw – Two Step and Single Swing

‘Stuck Like Glue’ by Sugarland – Foxtrot and Single Swing

‘A Woman Like You’ by Lee Brice – Two Step and Single Swing

Tell us about your country first dance or show us your favorite romantic country song – Comment below!

BDC Student Spotlight: Stephen and Danielle Abernathy

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With their beach wedding quickly approaching, Stephen and Danielle came to Ballroom Dance Chicago for a special first dance; as Stephen put it, he wanted to “look classy.” They spent the following months learning country two step and single swing to their favorite song, Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You.” Every Saturday, Stephen and Danielle came into the studio, their giant smiles exuding warmth and kindness to everyone, especially to each other. Whether Danielle was whipping her hair around in turns or Stephen was singing the lyrics to their song, this couple had a ball together while learning to dance. After an impressive performance at their wedding on Tybee Island in Georgia, Stephen and Danielle continue to grow closer and develop their dance skills.

How did you meet each other? Was it love at first sight?

Stephen says, “We met through our mutual friends in Charlotte, NC. I couldn’t be without her after the first time I met her…it was only a matter of time before I could make a move on her…”

How did your wedding guests react to your first dance?

They were impressed. One of our friend’s wife said she wanted to get married again (to the same man of course) so she could take dance lessons like we did.

What was the best thing about learning to dance together?

How much better we were communicating about our dance and how we were performing as the lessons progressed. And the fact that we got a lot closer during the process.

What is your favorite thing about Chicago?

We love the diverse culture of this city, the food, the great friends we have met and football season at Irish Oak and Sully’s.

What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?

Until recently, our First Dance song, “God Gave Me You,” by Blake Shelton.

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Congratulations Stephen and Danielle!!

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Preparing for Emergencies on the Dance Floor

Your adrenaline spikes and you start to sweat. Your throat goes dry and breathing suddenly seems like an effort. Maybe your hands get clammy and it’s hard to think about anything else but how embarrassed you are and that you’re about to crash and burn in front of everyone.
Whether you are speaking or dancing in front of people, it’s common to feel anxiety. The good news is that with practice and focus you can train yourself to manage your fear and overcome any errors or missteps. Here are a few tips from the experts at Ballroom Dance Chicago:
Start Early: The more time you give yourself to practice your dance, the more confident and skilled you will become. It’s just like studying for a big exam: you usually get better results when you study for a an extended period of time beforehand, as opposed to pulling an all night cram session right before the test. Give yourself the time you need to be successful.
Visualize: Just like a basketball player about to shoot a free throw or a golfer about to tee off, it is helpful for a dancer to visualize their movements and patterns before taking the floor. This is a test run for your brain to focus and prepare for what is ahead of you. The right mindset can make all the difference!
Harness that Adrenaline: Humans have a natural stress response which triggers a release of adrenaline through the body. The increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and boost of energy supplies are designed to help you deal with a stressful situation. It’s important to view this “adrenaline rush” as a positive factor that will both support and increase your performance quality.
Breathe: Your brain needs oxygen to think clearly so don’t deprive it! Many people hold their breath while performing without even knowing it. Practice breathing as you practice your dance. Holding your breath can cause your face to turn red and prevent you from thinking clearly on the dance floor.
Have a back up: Designate a step to fall back on in case you miss something. Usually the first step you learned is what you are most comfortable with. If you get lost in your pattern or have a misstep, use this basic step to get back on track and give yourself time  to think about what to do next.
Keep Smiling!: The majority of your audience is looking at your face and upper body, they are not staring at your footwork. If you make a mistake, don’t let it show on your face and stay relaxed. Your audience is rooting for you to do well, and unless you make a big deal about a misstep they won’t even notice.
Anecdotes from the pros:
Kathryn Jazz PicKathryn – I was 12 years old when my dance group did a kickline routine just like the Rockettes. We had to jump up in the air and land in the splits on the floor. I didn’t stretch properly before the performance and as I slammed into the splits I ripped my hamstring. I literally could not move, so I stayed there in the middle of the floor in the splits with a giant smile on my face while fighting back tears. The other performers danced around me and, at the end, one of them helped drag me off. Yes, it was horribly painful, but because I kept smiling everyone in the audience thought I was supposed to be doing that. Ha!
RF Kid Dance PicRachael – When  I was nine years old I encountered the strangest stage experience of my life, to date. Walking on stage in an embarrassingly small sailor outfit, I lead a clan of preschoolers on behind me. They took their places and I took mine, front and center. The lights and music came on and the tap-dancing began. About 30 seconds in, I glanced over my right side, noticing half of the girls fleeing to the left side of the stage while one stood there, staring blankly out into the audience, a small puddle around her feet. What on earth do you do in this situation? Well, anxiety began to pour over me, and my immediate thought was to gather up all of the little girls, lead them off stage and call it quits. Instead, I took a deep breath, led the now crying little girl off stage and finished the dance with the other girls as best as we could…just slightly to the left of that puddle. This experience, as strange as it was, taught me that no matter what happens, there is always a way to continue the performance until the very end.
BDC's students, Alex and Charlotte, dancing at their wedding. Photo by Olivia Leigh.

BDC Spotlight – Dance and a Southern Garden Party in the City: The Langerman Wedding

BDC's students, Alex and Charlotte, dancing at their wedding. Photo by Olivia Leigh.

BDC’s students, Alex and Charlotte, dancing at their wedding. Photo by Olivia Leigh.

On a chilly evening in late March, two ‘Honorary Southerners’ arrived at BDC looking to learn a relaxed and elegant dance for their wedding in June. After warming up with a glass of red wine and listening to a few songs they had in mind, Alex and Charlotte decided on ‘Everlasting Light’ by the Black Keys as the song for their first dance. They spent the next three months learning a mix of slow foxtrot and smooth swing, and enjoyed the challenge of dancing together and working toward a shared goal. Following a stellar performance at their wedding, Alex and Charlotte continue to learn more about each other through dance, and are currently working on some spicy salsa steps- which may make an appearance at an upcoming BYOB party!

What’s your favorite thing about Chicago? We love great food and music, and Chicago’s got plenty of both. We live in East Lakeview which also provides tremendous diversity and exposure to new ideas and different cultures and ways of life.

If your life were a movie, which actors would portray you? Simon Baker (known as TV’s Mentalist) and Christina Applegate (of “Bundy Bounce” fame, and most recently Up All Night). It would be a romantic comedy traversing the globe set in exotic locales with plenty of food and likely a cameo by Anthony Bourdaine. There would also be a dog named Stella played by herself.

How did your wedding guests react to your first dance? People loved the dance, and a few asked how long we had been dancing. Mostly, people just said we looked so happy, which was exactly what we were going for. We didn’t want to be too “showy” (although we did have some great moves!) but rather smooth and elegant.

Why did you want to take lessons for your first dance? We knew we would be in the center spotlight and wanted to feel comfortable out there. Having put so much thought and effort into the other aspects of the event, it was appropriate to have an elegant “performance”. We also love to get out and move on the dance floor, and figured we would learn some new fun moves in the process.

BDC's students, Alex and Charlotte, dancing at their wedding. Photo by Olivia Leigh.

BDC’s students, Alex and Charlotte, dancing at their wedding. Photo by Olivia Leigh.