Brazilian Zouk is a style of social dance growing in popularity, using a broad combination of music including hip-hop, R&B and dub step.

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PARTNER DANCE can feel a little uncomfortable at first. You hold hands with a stranger, get into his or her personal space, and rely on this new person to know the steps and move with you as one.

The connection to a fellow dancer also is what makes partner dance great. In the span of a song, you get to know someone simply by the way he or she moves. I love social dance partly because of the constant rotation of new partners.

Then there is partner dance in Brazilian Zouk.

Where to go

Salsa Con Todo, 750 N. 34th St., Seattle

salsacontodo.com

Brazilian Zouk is a style of social dance growing in popularity, using a broad combination of music including hip-hop, R&B and dub step. I went to a class at Salsa Con Todo in Fremont to learn more.

Brazilian Zouk is more sensual than dances such as salsa or swing. At the beginning of each dance, for example, my partner and I would sway, shifting our weight back and forth together, using hips and body weight to lead rather than our hands.

After our initial slow sway, we moved into basic steps. The music can range from slow to fast, but much of it felt slow to me as we worked through the basic step, a body roll and a lateral step side to side. Once I got a grasp of the rhythm, it was fairly straightforward to learn most of the steps. My partners, who had been working for several intro classes already, also had a good sense of the footwork.

I faltered a little with simple turns out of the lateral steps, but when teachers Robert Luu and Elizabeth Burnett had us dance to music, it still worked out and I liked focusing on making my movements smoother.

Then, they had us work with our partners in closer proximity. As in inner thigh to inner thigh. I quaked slightly, then told myself to shake it off. I’m a grown-up. I can do this.

Elizabeth explained that if we moved from that connection point leading from our legs, we would have far better awareness of where our partner’s pelvis and hips were, i.e. no accidental weirdness. She and Robert demonstrated, and their dance was fluid, graceful and in sync. It was beautiful to watch.

We worked with our partners. It was oddly easier to follow my partner’s movements in such close proximity, although if we misstepped we sometimes lost contact and had to inch back in. We moved into rotating basics, dancing in larger circles around the floor.

For our final flair, we learned a chicote, or a hair whip. Women leaned their upper body forward toward the floor, and our partners responded by pressing their hands up. Once we felt the press up, we rounded our backs and rolled our spines up, flipping our head and hair back. Barnett told us to be mindful of how we rolled up so we didn’t hurt ourselves with enthusiastic hair whips. I loved chicote.

The dance teaches you to loosen up. Robert and Elizabeth talked about unlocking the upper body, and I saw their controlled fluidity in shoulders and spine.

One partner said he danced salsa for years and switched to Brazilian Zouk because he enjoyed it so much. Robert called it the hip-hop dance of the social dance world.

Brazilian Zouk might take you out of your social dance comfort zone. I recommend you take on the challenge. You might fall in love.