I received this great question in my inbox from a TCF reader:
Hi Paige, thank you for your informative and honest content.
I am curious to know your stance on dancing, specifically waltz and ballroom dances, from the trad Catholic perspective. Should dancing be avoided all together?
Can a Catholic take dance classes and dance with people they do not know? I’m asking because I desire to take dance classes again and I’m looking at the Waltz, since it seems like the most modest dance taught in schools.
I know a trad Catholic who dances hustle at parties, she is single and dances with men that she knows. Her opinion is that it is ok as long as it is not sensual. I also spoke with a priest about it and his advice was to not think of dancing as good or bad, but to ask myself if it is scandalous to engage in a particular dance. I don’t see anything scandalous about the waltz, especially when the embrace is more open, but I would like to get another opinion, because I can’t rely on my own understanding. I am praying about this. Thank you for your reply.
This is a great question for several reasons.
As Catholics, we are admonished to practice chastity, modesty and also to avoid scandal, but is this applicable to dancing?
Dancing itself has a lot of benefits including:
- As a way to bond with a partner or spouse
- For social interaction
- To keep fit
- To increase mental and physical health, amongst many others
However, as with most things, there are certain boundaries that should be maintained.
Temperance and moderation are both linked to the virtues of modesty and chastity, and it is generally a good idea to apply this to dancing as well.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE SINGLE
Dancing is not just a great way to interact socially with others, male and female, it is a wonderful recreation method and can help expand your social circle, as well as keep you fit.
We must be careful, though, that the dance is not immodest or suggestive, and does not lead to us being immodest or overly exposed.
For example, certain types of swing dancing involve a lot of leaps and jumps, which can leave you rather exposed.
In this case, it is prudent to ensure you are dressed appropriately, and to even add cycle shorts or something underneath your costume to preserve your modesty and dignity during high leaps.
If you are discerning marriage and hope to get married someday, do remember that while suggestive or immodest dancing or dance attire may attract male attention to you, it would attract the wrong sorts of male attention – users, losers, perverts and abusers.
By all means, go out there and have fun dancing, but be mindful of your decorum, attire and modesty.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE MARRIED
Engaging in dancing as a married couple helps to add closeness between you and can even deepen your physical bond.
Regular dancing, for fun or not, is highly encouraged between spouses as a joint activity.
Occasionally, we may find ourselves in a position where we dance with someone other than our married partner, such as at a party or other social event.
In such cases, it is advisable to engage in fun, upbeat and light-hearted dancing; reserving the slow or intimate dances for our spouse alone.
THE DANCE ITSELF
While many types of dance are okay, certain dances of a suggestive or lewd nature should be avoided in order to
- avoid being a source of scandal,
- maintain modesty and proper decorum,
- prevent falling into sin.
So while most types of dance such as ballroom and the like are okay, dances like Bachata and similar are very immodest.
Acceptable Forms of Dance:
- Zumba – as long as it is the exercise form or practised with your spouse
- Polka – this is a form of couple-dance that isn’t overly suggestive or immodest.
- Jive – due to the energetic moves, it is advisable to dress appropriately to cover your modesty and to only stick to your married partner with this one. Ditto with the Charleston and the Jitterbug.
- The Foxtrot and Tango are other types of couple-dance that should really only be between you and your spouse, as while they are not lewd, they can be a little sultry or suggestive
- Waltz, including the Viennese Waltz, is a couple-dance as well but can be done by unmarried couples as it is not too lewd or immodest
- Country Western dancing is also good for both the married and unmarried and ditto for Irish dancing. In fact, I’ll also include other social dances like Circle dancing, Square dancing, Line dancing etc
- Any form of free dancing for singles that is not suggestive, lewd or immodest
- Historical dance: these include Baroque, Regency and Medieval dances.
- Street dance – many of these are fine, especially street dances from the 70s and 80s. Modern-day street dances….not so much. Example, break-dancing or the Robot is perfectly fine; twerking is not.
- Solo dances like Flamenco, Ballet, Tap and so on are generally fine.
Unacceptable Forms of Dance
- Certain street dances like twerking
- Pole dancing – need I say more?
- Liturgical dancing
- Any couple-dance that involve lewd movements, bumping, grinding and similar
- Any solo-dance that involves lewd or suggestive movements, gyrating and so on
THIS might also be of interest to you.
When choosing a dance activity or hobby, be mindful of:
- Modesty, including in your attire
- Decorum, including the dance positions themselves
- Scandal – no dance be a stumbling block or source of scandal to the observers.
- Other people – is it a couple-dance? If so, does it fufill the above rules? Is it a solo-dance? If so, does it fulfill the above rules?
When in doubt, use the WWMD test – What would Mary do?
If our Lady were alive today, would she do the Waltz? Most likely, yes!
Would you engage in twerking or pole-dancing? Most likely, no!
So go on.
Go shake your tail feather. Just as long as you are not twerking, being a scandal or being immodest.
Have fun and enjoy!
Our Lady, seat of wisdom, pray for us!
ad Jesum per Mariam
7 thoughts on “Dancing And The Traditional Catholic”
Hi, What is acceptable regarding priests dancing? I was recently at an event where a CFR priest was salsa dancing with all the women in the group and then with one in particular. I felt very uncomfortable about this and also a bit scandalised, so I left. But everyone else there including the priest seemed to think it perfectly acceptable. The couples were all in a circle, with men moving round so there didn’t seem an opportunity for women to decline dancing with him without causing a disturbance; so not sure if anyone really didn’t want to or not. Is this not a breaking of priestly vows of celibacy/chastity?
While dancing with a woman, or even exclusively with one woman, is not breaking chastity or celibacy (I mean, it’s not like they were obviously in a relationship or were having sex there!!), it is immodest and gives rise to scandal. We, priests included, are to conduct ourselves in a manner that is above reproach
What about latin american forms of couple dance? More specifically, banda and cumbia? Of course people can dance to this music immodestly, but I’ve seen many times not very immodest at all. In fact, cumbia has a couple not against each other but more rotating around each other (and the guy spins the girl). What do you think?
I think we would for the more modest dances
I am curious. You write here a very interesting, and it seems to me, reasonable article laying modest and immodest forms of dance.
Then you link to an article as to a source, which seems to contradict you entirely by simply decrying dance. Am I misunderstanding either your article or the linked one? Also, I can’t think that the linked article really explains the Catholic position on the subject particularly objectively, since accepting that would be to accept that the rich tradition of European dance through the eras was either a post Catholic phenomena (obviously false) or else that it developed in spite of the omnipresence of Catholicism for a large part of Europe’s history (hardly probable). Not arguing that the cited quotes are inaccurate – but there have been many stated viewpoints within Catholicism which never became church teaching … like the impermissibility of pagan literature for instance. I’m simply wondering at the apparent contradiction.
By the way, I hope you don’t mind the numerous comments! A number of your statements inspire curiosity on my part.
It is encouraging to read and take inspirational advice and tips such as on acceptable dances and how men and women should relate to each other from the Biblical and Catholic traditional perspectives on your site. Regarding acceptable dances it is rare to find advice in Catholic circles and media. So far I have found reference in St Francis De Sales’s classic book: Introduction to the Devout Life, in Chapter XVII. Its chapters (XVII and XXXVIII) on friendship and marriage are quite interesting to read and shed light on how Catholic marriages can flourish and succeed. The book of Ecclesiasticus (in Catholic Bibles)’ reference to friendship quoted in https://www.sacredspace.ie/scripture/ecclesiasticus-65-6-14-17) stresses the importance of true and faithful friendship which can apply to many marriages today that lack warm friendship. Your contribution to bringing about true traditional Catholic and Biblical femininity is enlightening. Keep up the good work, and God bless your endeavours in such enlightenment. From Andrew Kwesi Dsane, a Catholic Christian based in the UK.
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