There is nothing mysterious about “how to hold your partner” in dancing. Your position should be guided by comfort, common sense, and convention—and that is all there is to it.

Outside of a few eccentric crazes like the Bunny Hug, Charleston, Black Bottom, and so on, position in ballroom dancing hasn’t changed appreciably in the past 30 years.

Youngsters have always had fads in their dancing style. One year you may find young girls leaving their right arms outstretched, palms up—as though feeling for raindrops. By the next season they will have forgotten that fad and will adopt another distinctive style.

Some youngsters assume exaggerated dancing positions merely to cover their embarrassment at not knowing what to do. As their dancing improves, they will drop affectations. Young people are more comfortable when they dance exactly as their friends do—wise parents realize this and overlook short-lived styles.

In this book we are concerned only with presenting to you the quickest and easiest means of becoming a good dancer—popular with all partners. A correct dancing position will help to make this possible.

  1. You can practice correct dancing position very easily in your own room, without a partner. Face a mirror and stand erect. Don’t strain—simply stand naturally and comfortably as though you were about to walk down the street. Now rise so that your weight is placed evenly on the soles of your shoes—no weight on your heels. Hum a popular tune and walk about in time to the rhythm until you feel fully at ease.
  2. You will find it helpful to raise your arms in typical dancing position as you practice alone. Do not hold your elbows unnaturally high—it is tiring, unnecessary, and out-of-date. Glance in the mirror and you will see that a medium elbow-height forms the most graceful line.
  3. Looking at yourself standing erect, with your arms up, will remind you to hold yourself tall. Good dancing posture is flattering. It will help you form the habit of holding your head high, with your chest out and chin in. Bring out the best in your looks!
  4. Remember to keep your heels off the floor as much as possible. A flat-footed, firm stance belongs on the golf course—not on the dance floor. Keeping your weight over the soles of your feet will make you feel quicker and lighter as a partner.
  5. Here is one of the most important things for you to remember. Without this, you can never hope to be a good dancer or to even “get by” in appearance. Keep your feet close together, unless you are taking a definite step to the side. Walk toward your mirror in dance position… see how you look when your feet are apart. It’s not a pretty sight, is it? Now, walk again and make a conscious effort to pass your feet closely together. Are you sold on why this is so important in dancing?
  6. For graceful dancing, you must learn to turn your toes out, rather than in. Again, a peek at your mirror will convince you why this looks better.
  7. Now is the time for you to stop worrying. You have seen yourself as others see you, so you should feel secure and ready for teamwork with a partner. When dancing with someone, adopt the position that is most comfortable for both of you. Not so close together that you have no freedom of movement—but not too far apart.
  8. Do not curl your arm under your partner’s. Fancy, trick holds should be put away with your high school diploma.
  9. A man leads best when he holds his partner in front of him or an inch or so to his right… no tape measure necessary… we’re dancing for fun!
  10. Easy does it. Don’t plan to lean forward or backward—just assume a natural, comfortable position and your partner will find you a natural, comfortable dancing companion.