Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lead and Follow in Dancing (and Sex)

I've been dancing all my life.  I have to blog about it, of course. Dancing relates to sex and romance and health and fitness…and a lot of other things that I am an advocate of.  Man and woman originally danced to incite passion in each other and then they would mate.  (Yumm!)

There is individual dance, which can be choreographed or freestyle.  There is group dance and folk dance and ritual dance.

And then there is partnered dance.

Partnered dance can be freestyle, like a bump and grind type of mash up dance, or like two individuals freestyle dancing “together” but not touching each other.  Like this:

OR…partnered dance can be structured and have a lead and a follow.  Like this:

The lead and follow dynamic in dancing is what I want to focus on in this post.

The standard lead and follow dynamic is that the man is leading and the woman is following.  This is just a guideline and anyone can lead or follow, but both roles are necessary to make a true partnered dance possible.

The most common partnered dances people do these days are:

Ballroom (foxtrot, waltz, rhumba, etc)

Latin (salsa, cha cha, bachata, Argentine Tango)

Swing (lindy hop, east coast, west coast)

Country (country 2 step, country cha cha)

Blues Dancing (includes many variations)

Any of these dances can be danced with eroticism and passion like when dancing with a romantic partner, or they can be danced with respect and a purely platonic intention like when dancing with your grandmother.  

The above dances all have specific moves and steps.  The lead always initiates every step of the dance.  The follow truly only follows his instructions, by moving her body into the move he is leading.  The follow knows what the lead wants her to do by a fascinating process that comes close to being purely psychic. 

The lead tells the follow to move part or all of her body one way or another way, and he does this by imperceptible tension and compression between points of their bodies.  This is communication between two bodies.  No words are needed.  When you experience it, it is quite an unusual…and comforting feeling.  When a lead sends a follow the right signals and she interprets them correctly and makes the move he wanted her to make, it feels like you just made up a new language together...like you are literally reading each other's minds.

As a dancer, I know how to both follow and lead.  I enjoy doing both, very much.  I am much more experienced at  following, but I like to challenge myself by leading.

Following is easier than leading.  I put that in bold because it is an important point.  This is true in life, and true in dancing, and it is also true in sex. 

The lead has to know what is up ahead and what the next move will be.  The lead has to consider the safety of both dancers while simultaneously keeping good dance frame, planning out the next several moves, staying on time with the music, and responding to real time changes as they occur.  He also must strive to successfully make his follow look good.  This is more work than the follow has to do.

However, even though leading is harder, following is still not easy.  To follow properly, one has to surrender…much easier said than done when you try it.  To follow properly, you must not anticipate what your lead will do next.  Because if you anticipate the next move, your body will begin to go into that move, instead of the move your lead actually leads you into.  

It is quite difficult to tell your body that it can’t decide where it is going to move next, and instead you are going to surrender your control over to another person’s body.  You find suddenly that your body doesn’t want to obey another, and that you have to learn to surrender as well as learn to dance.

Once you do though…boy is it a heavenly ride to follow in a partnered dance with a good lead.  I think every woman can imagine being literally swept off her feet in a fantastic dance, even women who have never danced with a partner.

Leading doesn't bring that feeling of surrender but rather a feeling of responsibility…and also a feeling power or control.  Not in a wacky way, but in a creative and respected way.  If a man leads a dance he will get more creative credit for it than his follow does.  He took more responsibility and more risk.  And he also gets to know he made her swoon, which is reward enough itself.

The follow will get more credit for looking good.  A lead's job is to make her look good.  If your follow doesn't look good, comfortable and like she's having fun, then your job as a lead wasn't accomplished.

Notice she gets credit for looking good even though it is his responsibility to make sure she does...that is because she must actually look good.  The part you can't do for her, the part she brings to the dance herself, is looking good.  You can see this while watching any partnered lead-follow dance.  You can see it in every picture I have posted here of lead and follow dancing.  The lead is making (allowing the space and presentation for) her look good, and the follow is actually looking good (accomplished at dancing and enjoying herself with grace and style).

And with that in mind...

The ability to lead and follow - - as learned when learning to partner dance - - can be very nicely translated into bedroom fun and games.  

Example: We have a game where he pretends to grab me by the arm and pull or push me around and shake me, then throw me down on the bed or force me to bend over a chair or sofa.  All of this fun occurs by using lead and follow techniques.

When he grabs my arm, I know how to follow where he is pushing or pulling me with it…so that it only looks like he is pushing or pulling me.  I know how to follow while looking like I am resisting.  Therefore, we can play rough like this without ever actually hurting me....even though we make it look like he is hurting me or roughly handling me.  And he does handle me very rough, because I'm into that.  It just isn't as rough as it would appear to an onlooker.

I like rough play, but I don’t like being injured.   Lead and follow techniques help avoid injuries, which is important for kinksters.

Leading and following also helps us stay very connected.  Since lead and follow is a way of two bodies communicating, playing games like this keeps us in a very intimate and connected mental space…the same kind that is necessary to execute a good partnered dance between romantic partners. 

If he is going to throw me down on the bed, he has to:
*consider both of our safety,
*know if there is any obstacle on the bed,
*know if my body is in a good position to be grabbed at that moment,
*know that I am aware he is about to lead me into something,
*and then plan his next several moves all while executing those moves in a sexy way.

It is a lot of work!  All I have to do is surrender and follow….and ahhhhh….(damn I LOVE getting thrown down on the bed).

Here are some other fun sex related moves we can execute using lead and follow techniques...

*He can grab me by the back of the neck and lead my whole body using a gentle grip.

*He can put his hand on the small of my back or on my waist and lead me from there with just the lightest pressure of his finger tips.

*He can grab up a bunch of my hair in a big fist and pull on it, I can follow his pull so that it doesn't hurt at all but looks incredibly rough.

*He can stop me from moving toward something dangerous in several ways with simple lead and follow body communication, which is very useful.  I trust him to lead me to safety and away from danger, and he always does.  An every day example would be if he gave me a small lead cue to stop me from stepping out in front of a passerby I hadn't seen.  A sexy example would be when he gives me a small lead cue to make me go a different direction because he sees some guy eye-balling me up ahead of us.  (I love when he mate-guards me).

I plan to make some videos showing some easy-to-learn lead and follow techniques that can quickly be translated into sexy play moves.  But until I get around to that….I hope you take a dance class!

In dance classes you will:
Learn about tension and compression.   Learn about frame.  Learn about responsibility and surrender.  Learn about your body and how it moves.  Learn about the mental energy we are always using to control our bodies.  It is fascinating and helps with your overall mind-body connection to know how to dance, lead or follow.  Learning to dance enhances your sex life in so many ways.

I will blog more about dancing and how lead and follow techniques can be used for great sex.  I will also discuss the energy we exchange with each other, and how we can play with that energy when we use tension and compression.  This post just allowed me to introduce the topic of lead and following dancing, but much more will be tied in with it later.  Thanks for tuning in, and I hope you get to dance sometime soon.

Read another post about sex and dancing I wrote: Connection = Tension + Compression

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