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To self-identify as a dancer is to set oneself up for a life of awkward social interactions – especially on the dance floor.

From “Oh, you’re a dancer…what club do you work at?” to “Oh, you’re a dancer, you must be really flexible…,” we have all heard our fair share of insulting pick-up lines. And there is no doubt that we have all been asked to show someone “our best moves.”

But perhaps the worst thing about being a dancer in a social setting – at a bar, club or party, in particular – is that we often just want to dance. And not by ourselves.

To be fair, it’s not uncommon that another party-goer invites a dancer to share a dance. But unless it is salsa night, an invitation to dance doesn’t mean that the pair of you will be taking a spin around the dance floor – it means you’re going to grind. And that’s if you get asked at all.

Grinding often requires no face-to-face interaction; the “dance form” allows its instigator to approach a partner on the dance floor from behind and to engage in what would be classified as sexual assault in any other circumstances.

Grinding also carries a wealth of social implications; dancing with someone in this way can inspire fleeting romantic feelings, in addition to its ability to fuel awkward future interactions between those involved. It perpetuates a sort of dominance that leaves some people feeling invigorated and others feeling violated and uncomfortable.

And one of the very worst things about being asked to “dance” in this situation is that if the “Askee” says “No,” he or she risks being insulted by the “Asker” and his or her friends.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know that there is a time and place for grinding, and that a lot of people actually enjoy dancing this way. And that’s perfectly okay.

My problem occurs when dancing in a social setting is automatically equated with performing some sort of mating call.

So consider this a note to predatory dancers of any gender: 

1. Don’t stalk people on the dance floor. If you want to dance with someone, have the common courtesy to ask him or her.

2. Don’t immediately start to grind with someone, if that is your ultimate goal. Take some time to build a little rapport first; just because you’re on the dance floor doesn’t mean that chivalry is dead.

3. If someone says he or she doesn’t want to dance with you, take it in stride. There is no reason to verbally demean someone for denying you a dance, especially if it has more intimate implications.

4. If you want to really “Wow” someone on the dance floor – take some lessons. Latin dance lessons will help you learn basic lead and follow dance vocabulary.

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