Formal Dance in a Nation of Brawlers

Slothjemia is by the standards of older and more civilized nations still a haven for barbarism and uncouth behavior. While there have been many attempts to change these perceptions there are areas that Slothjemian behavior diverges from standard operating procedures and veers ever so slightly into unsavory, if not savage, traditions. One such example is in parties and get-togethers that feature a formal dance.

In places like Fanolania and Geldenreich there are firmly established rules dictating who dances with whom and for how long and so forth. There are certain pleasantries that must be observed and in doing so the evening goes by without anyone snapping a courtesan in half and using their corpse to bludgeon the hostess. In Slothjemia, though, the rules are much more precise and to the point. If a man and woman decide to spend the entire evening dancing solely with one another and to suffer no interruption, there is one clear signal that everyone will be watching.

When the music stops it is customary for the woman to politely applaud their approval to the band or orchestra. But if the man applauds as well then it is a clear sign to other men that he has finished his social interaction with his dancing partner for the time being, and that another fellow may step forward and ask her to dance. If, however, the man does not applaud, and instead keeps his right hand placed on the small of the back of the woman he has just danced with, then other men know that she is still receiving the full attention of her dance partner, and thus will not dare to step forward and ask her to dance with them instead.

For the woman the signal varies only in how she reacts to the man’s hand in the small of her back. If she stands still and continues to applaud then she is signaling her acceptance of his own signal to spend more time with her. However, if she steps away from his hand such that he is no longer able to touch her without moving, then she has signaled that she has no desire to continue her interaction with this man at this time, and is open to dancing with somebody new.

It is in this regard that women in Slothjemia have the upper hand. They can step away at any time to thwart a would-be suitor. They can also during a dance suggest that the man not applaud the orchestra, a clear indicator that he needs to keep his right hand in the small of her back to allow them more time together. She might even push back into his hand to further indicate her desire to continue their interaction. These physical clues will spell out plainly to all present the nature of their relationship even if there wasn’t any hint of such a relationship prior to the dance.

While these things may seem trivial there are times at which these signals can be interpreted as more than friendly and closer akin to “moving rapidly towards formal courtship and/or marriage.” An annual festival held to honor a good harvest might be a time when two people spending the entire night dancing together could spell the beginning of a potential love interest. A more spontaneous and celebratory occasion, such as a ball celebrating a military victory, might be a time when these two people are signaling a deeper affection. If one or the other of the two are considered to be noteworthy as marriage partners then the stakes are raised even higher. And should they spend every dance in each other’s arms and seemingly take no interest in anyone else present at the party then the die is fairly well cast. They are together, folks. Like it or not, this marriage is going forward.