Taking the time to learn how to "dirty dance" can be an interesting variation to the normal social dance spectrum. Sure, everybody can foxtrot and waltz - but can you sway like Swayze?
Getting Down and Dirty
Dirty dancing is actually a style of dance portrayed in the hit 1987 movie Dirty Dancing. It was a style of free-form and sultry, sensuous movement symbolizing the claiming of adulthood by rebellious teens as they emerge from their parents' influence. The basic form is a dance frame of close embrace, with the hips close together and sometimes with the woman straddling one leg of the man, bringing them even closer. From this primary position, a range of moves can be donefrom simply swaying back and forth to full body lifts, dips and more.
Since the popularity of the movie, more people have wanted to learn how to dance that way. While the movie style was choreographed specifically by Kenny Ortega, many other dance teachers from various styles have created curricula that teach the style. The sources of the vary widely, from swing dance, blues dance, Argentine tango, samba and the conventions of lead-follow common to most social dancing. Teachers such as Johnny LeRoc from the UK do demos of this style of dance along with others and offers workshops. Most of the music played for this kind of dancing is either from the movie soundtrack or other R&B style.
You Can Learn How to Dirty Dance
If you don't have a qualified dance instructor nearby, you can still learn how to Dirty Dance yourself. Since the style is made up from a movie, there isn't an "official" set of steps to learn. However, you can follow these basic principles and be well on the way.
- Watch and imitate. There are many shows such as Dancing With the Stars where you can see great examples of couples dancing, along with some of the techniques used to teach them. This can give you a basic idea.
- Feel both the music and your partner (if you have one - you can always dirty dance all by yourself). But it's vital that you start slow, and before you move at all you listen to the beat and feel your partner's body next to you, and the connection between them.
- Once you feel the beat, start moving. But keep the moves, as much as possible, close to the ground (feet, knees, hips) and close to your center - gyrating your belly, shimmying the shoulders, etc. You don't have to be big and flashy. Dirty dancing is more about getting in touch with that dark sensuous place inside, and letting it just peek out a bit through the way you dance.
- Work on isolations and contrasts. An isolation is when you hold most of your body still and just let one part move with the music. Johnny LeRoc has a part of his demo where he just pulses his knees up and down, and the power of a pair of hips just swaying back and forth is well known on the dance floor. Contrasts can be many things, such as dancing very close to each other and then twirling your partner out to move apart, connected only by the fingertips. You still move in the same way, but the differences in distance make it more exciting. You can also change level (crouching closer to the ground) or speed (a fast twirl that ends up in a slow, swaying embrace).
A big part of dirty dancing is feeling confident in being dirty. You need to feel like you are hot and sexy as you move, and the mirror is your tool for that. Getting to know how your body moves - and it does not matter what kind of body you have - will give you more confidence out on the floor.
So get your groove thing on and shake it!