Dance boners and what to do about them

Brazilian Zouk is a wonderful partner dance, and we want to keep the Brazilian Zouk community a comfortable one for all.

With the rising popularity of close embrace in Zouk, unintended consequences can sometimes happen. This includes dance boners (i.e. erections).

While unintended, dance boners can cause awkwardness and discomfort in both dancers. Recipients of such dance boners may have a variety of reactions - the recipient’s familiarity, relationship with, and attraction to that person, will no doubt have a large influence on their reaction.

Dance boners may happen more often to younger men, and to those who are fairly new to close embrace Zouk. With experience, and age, dance boners may happen a lot less infrequently, or even not at all.

So what can we do to diffuse such situations? Here are some suggestions from a variety of dancers, all over the world:



  • Remind yourself that dancing Zouk is a completely different form of intimacy than sex. Do not perceive the follower’s movements or manner as indicating a sexual interest in you. When on the dance floor, it’s best to assume that it is not. The follower may simply be expressing her own sensuality (with the leader as conduit), and it may have absolutely nothing to do with you.
  • Wear underwear with enough compression (e.g. compression shorts). Do not wear boxers.
  • Engage in proper angling of the unit. Park left.
  • If you tend to get erections very easily, consider engaging in some self-love before heading for socials.


  • Always using the dance offset – her right leg should be positioned between your right and left leg.
  • Act quickly. Go into a more open position until it goes away. You can also step back with your left leg, and create a more diagonal position with your body. Assuming you’ve parked left, this should immediately remove the contact between boner and recipient.
  • Think of something that would have the opposite effect on your unit.


  • If the recipient is clearly traumatised, do offer your sincere apologies and take steps to reduce the likelihood of dance boners happening.
  • You may also choose to alert your dance instructor or community leader, so that in the event there’s some spill over from the incident, they will understand the context of it.

The good news is, over time, and with more experience, dance boners should become a thing of the past. In the meanwhile, you have plenty of tried-and-tested methods above that should help.

For the recipient of the dance boner:


• First and foremost, have sympathy for the dancer. He may be feeling a lot more awkward than you are. He may already be trying to engage in the steps above to diffuse the situation.

The exception to this is if he’s clearly rubbing up against you on purpose. If so, stop the dance immediately, walk away, and relate the experience with your dance instructor or community leader. There are many ways to stop the dance. For newbies who may be afraid of offending the partner, you can feign an injury (e.g. toe cramp), or become less pleasant to dance with on purpose (e.g. be really stiff with your body, or become really limp and heavy).

• Help to calm down the situation by moving away subtly, to give more distance between you. Remove contact from that area until you’re comfortable again. Also reduce sensuous movements and sensuous contact for the time being.

• If you don’t want him to feel awkward, keep dancing with him, albeit slightly further away, and in a less sensuous manner.

• You can also offer him the opportunity to step away, by asking if he would like to “take a break”. He may want to do so, but may not know how to step away from the dance without offending you.


  • If you have a good relationship with the person, and if it’s obvious that the person is feeling embarrassed about the situation, offer some kind words, and the tips above.
  • If the incident did not bother you, no harm done then. If it bothered you, seek advice on how to process the incident. If you have a comfortable relationship with your dance teacher or community leader, speak with them.

Protect your right to feel comfortable in your own community. But be kind in how you do it.

Final Thoughts

But what if you and your dance partner are in a sexual relationship? Or what if you have strong attraction towards each other?

If you have strong interest in a dancer, feel free to pursue the interest, OUTSIDE of the dance floor. I personally think it’s best to leave sexuality out of the social dance floor. If you are dancing with a variety of people (as you would in a social), the association between sexual desire and close embrace Zouk with one particular person, may cause a spill over effect in your dances with others. Showing sexual interest on the dance floor may also make others around you feel uncomfortable, and set the wrong tone for newbies who may be watching your dance. Keeping sexuality off the dance floor removes all ambiguity.

In a world where how we dress and how we behave has become highly sexualized, the Zouk dance floor has become an oasis where we can express care for, and receive care from, each other, as fellow humans. It is a place where we can give and receive non-sexual love, in the way we hold and touch each other, without the risk of being misunderstood. And we get to do it to the most beautiful melodies.

Close-embrace Zouk allows for the most phenomenal and liberating dances. When there’s trust, we can be as vulnerable as we want to be. We can connect on levels that are simply magical. So let’s protect this space that we have, and do what we can, to help others navigate this wonderful and unique experience we call Zouk.

P.S. Thanks to friends, and all the contributors to my question on “ZoukNerds”, for the great suggestions (which I’ve incorporated in the article).