The modern ballroom dances all involve a couple dancing in a closed hold and vary in tempo (beats per minute) and rhythm (structure). A closed hold involves 5 bodily points of contact between the couple. Three of these points involve the hands, the males left hand holding the females right, the females left hand on top of the males right upper arm (for the Tango the females hand would go behind his arm) and the males right hand on the females back resting on her left shoulder blade. The other two points of contact are the females left elbow resting on the males right elbow and the right side of the females chest touching the right side of the males chest. This dance posture provides a very elegant look as the couple floats across the dance floor and has its origins in the European royal courts.
There is some conjecture that the right side-to-right side contact of the closed hold may have originated from a time when men danced while wearing their swords, which were hung on their left sides. Additionally, this theory would also explain the counter clockwise movement around the dance floor as the man would’ve stood on the inside of the circle so he wouldn’t inadvertently hit any of the people watching the dancers with his sword as he danced past.
The dancing posture for Latin American ballroom varies from dance to dance with some dances using the closed hold and others where the partners hold each other with only one hand.
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