Dance With Me

Ballroom Dancing and the Promise of Instant Intimacy

294 pages

33 illustrations

November, 2011

ISBN: 9780814722664



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Julia A. Ericksen is Professor of Sociology at Temple University and author of Kiss and Tell: Surveying Sex in the Twentieth Century and Taking Charge of Breast Cancer.

All books by Julia A. Ericksen

Click here to listen to Julia Ericksen's interview about Dance with Me on Philadelphia NPR's "Radio Times"

Rumba music starts and a floor full of dancers alternate clinging to one another and turning away. Rumba is an erotic dance, and the mood is hot and heavy; the women bend and hyperextend their legs as they twist and turn around their partners. Amateur and professional ballroom dancers alike compete in a highly gendered display of intimacy, romance and sexual passion.
In Dance With Me, Julia Ericksen, a competitive ballroom dancer herself, takes the reader onto the competition floor and into the lights and the glamour of a world of tanned bodies and glittering attire, exploring the allure of this hyper-competitive, difficult, and often expensive activity. In a vivid ethnography accompanied by beautiful photographs of all levels of dancers, from the world’s top competitors to social dancers, Ericksen examines the ways emotional labor is used to create intimacy between professional partners and between professionals and their students, illustrating how dancers purchase intimacy. She shows that, while at first glance, ballroom presents a highly gendered face with men leading and women following, dancing also transgresses gender.


  • "Interviews with top competitors and social dancers reveal the power that intimacy between partners can bring."

    Publishers Weekly

  • "This wonderful combination of text and image results in a nuanced portrait of the performance of heterosexual intimacy in the "emotional labor of dance." For all audiences interested in the historical and social contexts surrounding ballroom dancing."

    —S. Ferzacca, CHOICE

  • “[T]here is much to like about this book.  Erickson explores in great depth and richness this fascinating and complicated world that combines competition, artistry, and intimacy in a relationship that is often based on an economic exchange.”

    Social Forces