If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if my dance partner and I are dating, I would assuredly be making more money than I do as a professional dancer. Alas, there does not seem to be a fund that pays out for that type of thing, so I’ll stick with my chosen career path for now.
When people ask me that question, it is absolutely fascinating to me. “Why,” I always think to myself, “Do people assume that just because we dance well together, we are romantically involved?”
My dance partner, La Quinn, is my big brother/best friend/partner-in-crime and he is engaged to a lovely woman who is incredibly supportive of both of us. I’ve spent some time thinking about why people “need” for us to be romantically involved and have come up with a few myths I want to debunk.
"Dancing = Sex."
FALSE. This is one of the most insidious myths that is propagated by the non-dance community. I always chuckle at Salsa congresses when you see two gorgeous people sharing a steamy bachata and then as soon as the song is over, they walk away from each other without a further word. I’ve danced some incredible dances with guys whose names I will never know. They don’t stick around trying to get my digits or take me home—BECAUSE DANCING TOGETHER DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN YOU ARE TRYING TO SLEEP TOGETHER. In the case of me and La Quinn, we just like to dance together. Because dancing is like a conversation, not a carnal act. You can talk to anyone you damn please and people aren’t going to ask you if there’s “something going on between you two.”
"But you two have great chemistry!"
Yes, yes we do. Which is why we are dance partners.
"Since you spend so much time together, you must be involved."
To me, that is the case for why people who ARE romantically involved should NOT be dance partners. Can you imagine? You would never get a break! I know there are plenty of extremely successful dance partner/romantic partner relationships out there, but I personally would go insane. I also think this points to some people’s belief that men and women cannot be “just friends.” I’m here to tell you, they can.
Another problematic feature of a romantic and dance partnership is the power dynamics. I was talking to a friend who had been married to his dance partner for a while, and he said that when they started dancing together, he was a more skilled dancer than his former wife/partner. He taught her and brought her up to his skill level and then she decided she was better than him and left him.
A partnership is implied to be equal, but both partners bring different strengths. It seems to me like when you are romantically involved, your partner highlighting and sharing his strengths can seem condescending or like a power play instead of as an experience for you to learn and grow.
La Quinn and I have different strengths—he’s a hip-hop dancer turned salsero and I’m a ballerina turned salsera—but we are constantly learning from each other. Neither of us is “better” than the other—we’re working together to make the best unit that we can.
I’ve had a few dance partners, but none as consistent as La Quinn. Having a dance partner is wonderful—La Quinn is someone off of whom I can bounce every crazy idea I have, someone who keeps me positive when I am down on myself, and someone with whom I know I’ll always have a good dance. And guess what? WE ARE NOT DATING.
Photos courtesy of Adam Chandler Photography