"But something happens when we slow dance."
— Keri Hilson, "Slow Dance"
So Alice and Bob, who either don't know each other very well, or are Just Friends
, are attending some fancy party. For some reason, they wind up dancing to some slow romantic song that requires waltzing or some other dance typified by close body contact. Hey, that's ok, nothing special — except she's starting to blush, and he's getting all nervous. Could it be? Are they in love?
This often pops up during high school dances and fancy parties, the kind with hooped skirts and masks. For some reason, waltzing with a friend, or friend-of-a-friend, always winds up with one or both participants acquiring (or realizing) feelings of love towards the other, as though it were some kind of movement-driven truth/love spell. Often prefaced by an observation that She Cleans Up Nicely
, and frequently occurs during a High School Dance
, though it is by no means exclusive to teenagers.
A subtrope of Dances and Balls
When adding examples, keep in mind that this trope is about the dance being the first
indication of romance between the dancers, not just a romantic dance between two people who are in love (or in denial
Chances are a Love Theme
will be playing.
Compare Mating Dance
, Convenient Slow Dance
, Flight of Romance
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Anime & Manga
- The Familiar of Zero: After catching Fouguet, the academy holds a ball where Louise asks Saito for a dance. In the novels, at least, Saito declares that that was the time when he fell in love with Louise.
- The Adolescence of Utena: Utena and Anthy, a clear starlit sky, a rose garden covered in water creating a mirror-like floor, and of course, the song as they reach to each other and dance, "Toki ni, Ai wa (At times, Love is)".
- Yami No Matsuei: This trope is Hisoka and Tsubaki. The start of their doomed interaction consists pretty much of her bumping into him and then getting him to dance with her. Cue slow, romantic music, and Gaussian Girl effects as they stare into each other's eyes.
- The Magic World Ball chapters of Mahou Sensei Negima! had two sets of these going, one straight, and one with several subversions. The straight one is Kotaro/Natsumi, and the oddball one being Negi/Asuna, because it isn't really Asuna, but her doppleganger Shiori. However, it's sliiiiightly played straight, since by that point Shiori was already developing feelings for Negi.
- Subverted in Honoo No Alpen Rose, where Jeudi gets dolled up in a red gown to dance a waltz with the Romantic False Lead instead of the guy she has loves from childhood. Further subverted when said dance turns out to be plot-relevant, as it triggers the return on one of Jeudi's lost memories: dancing with a man who seems to be her father... before the plane crash that left her orphaned and amnesiac.
- Played a little straighter in the OP of the series, where she's seen dancing with both the False Lead and the Victorious Childhood Friend.
- While Casca insisted that she couldn't dance with her crush Griffith in the manga and TV adaptation of Berserk, the second movie adaptation takes it in a completely different direction with she and Guts dancing together, both parties very clearly enjoying their interaction. But they were Just Friends at this point (for now).
- In Candy Candy, one of the most Ship Tease-ladden moments for Candy and Anthony was their dance in the Andree Big Fancy House. Even more so because they were this close to miss it thanks to Eliza and Neil's machinations. The sight of Candy dancing with Tony in a Pimped-Out Dress that belonged to his Missing Mom sent Eliza into a sobbing fit.
Film - Animated
- Pictured above: Nearly the whole of Cinderella's romance occurs as Prince Charming and the titular heroine dance to So This Is Love.
- Beauty and the Beast is one of the most famous examples as they dance to Beauty and The Beast.
- The Swan Princess at the end of the song This Is My Idea
- Tiana and Naveen in The Princess and the Frog; "If I can mince, you can dance." (Unique in that they are frogs when they dance, rather than humans.)
- Anastasia: with Dimitri after her gives her a dress in the Waltz Reprise of Learn to do it "I never should have let them dance..."
- Sleeping Beauty. Though Prince Phillip is drawn to Aurora by the sound of her voice, her first introduction to him is when he sneaks up behind her and starts waltzing with her to Once Upon a Dream.
- Subverted in Tangled where Rapunzel and Flynn were trying to reach each other during the Kingdom Dance but don't come together until the song has ended.
- Rio. After dancing a samba duet, Blu and Jewel are on the verge of kissing... until the bad guys turn up.
- This happens in The Princess and the Pea when Daria and Rollo dance to the movie's Award Bait Song.
- The Scarecrow: another example where the love interests dance to an Award Bait Song.
- Ro and Prince Antonio are dancing in Barbie as the Island Princess when Antonio tells Ro he loves her.
- In Frozen, Anna and Hans do this.
- In Chicken Run Rocky and Ginger start having romantic feelings after a fast swing dance scene.
Film - Live Action
- In Beastly, a modern retelling of "Beauty and the Beast", Adrian teaches Lindy how to dance after he sees that She Cleans Up Nicely. It could also be the point where Lindy started falling for Adrian too, considering that she begins Letting Her Hair Down and wearing perfume around him after the dance.
- In Isabel Cooper's No Proper Lady, the sexual tension between Simon and Joan is unsurprisingly kick-started when Simon begins teaching Joan how to waltz.
- Cinderella, and just about everything based off her.
Live Action TV
- Doc and Seven in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Someone to Watch Over Me".
- Odo and Kira in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "His Way." Granted, Odo had already been in love with Kira for years by this point, but their dance seemed to be the turning point that allowed Kira to realize her own feelings.
- iCarly: Carly and Freddie in iSpeed Date.
- Torchwood has the slow dance in 1942 between Jack and the real Captain Jack Harkness after a full episode of romantic tension, culminating in one of the longest gay kisses ever shown on TV. Also a Tear Jerker since Jack is forced to return to his own time immediately after the kiss, and the last image he sees is the other Jack saluting him
- Done twice in Nip and Tuck, first with Tuck and Thelma Possum at the harvest dance, then with Nip and Zelda Porcupine at the B-Movie cruise.
- Friends Monica and Chandler have an off-screen one when Chandler realized Monica was the woman he "wanted to dance all his dances with."
- In Battlestar Galactica, this happens in the episode "Colonial Day," for Lee and Kara (subverted in that there are already indications of mutual romantic feelings between them and Kara sleeps with someone else that night while fantasizing about Lee) and Roslin and Adama.
- In The Vampire Diaries episode "Miss Mystic Falls" 150+ year old vampire Damon Salvatore steps in to dance with his brother's human girlfriend, Elena Gilbert when Stefan fails to show up. You can see it in his eyes that this is the moment he realizes he loves her, and she appears somewhat affected as well.
- Also in The Vampire Diaries Stefan's dance with Elena's doppelganger, Katherine Pierce, is this as well, both in the past and in the present.
- In the Korean Drama The City Hall, Mi Rae and Ju Gook dance the tango at the Miss Baendaengi contest, finally letting the sparks fly.
- Carter and Abby in ER. In the seventh season episode "Thy Will Be Done," Carter and Abby share one when Abby accompanies Carter to his grandparents' charity ball. The two were established friends by that point, but if the dance wasn't the turning point for both of them, it noticeably was for Carter...
- In the first episode of Bomb Girls Kate asks Betty to slow dance with her, very obviously setting up the beginning of their romance.
- Subverted in an episode from How I Met Your Mother when Robin, having just used her "truth voice" to Lily about wanting to get back with Barney, gets pulled into a dance with him to "show these people in Cleveland how it's done." When the ending has them so close they're almost kissing, they are interrupted by a phone call from Barney's ex, Nora, who he had tried calling. She feeds him lines to say that are really how she is feeling which, unfortunately, brings the Barney and Nora back together.
- Possibly in Frasier in the episode where Niles dances with Daphne. Subverted in that he's already in love with her and she thinks they're just putting on a show to make the other guests stop pitying Niles but he does refer back to it as a significant moment for them in later episodes.
- Played with in a complicated way in Sherlock. At John's wedding, Sherlock makes friends with a very flirty bridesmaid who fancies him and, when he rejects her, starts abusing his Sherlock Scan abilities to make him act as her wingman. Eventually, he confesses to her that he secretly loves dancing, but no-one must ever know. She asks to see him dance, so he performs a few graceful moves for her (rather than with her), which she adores. In the next episode, John finds out, to his horror, that despite Sherlock's Asexuality the bridesmaid is now his girlfriend, walking around his house with no underwear and even sneaking up on him when he's in the bath. Eventually we find out that Sherlock in fact deliberately manipulated the whole situation in order to bait her as a Honey Trap, needing her to solve a case - and that he couldn't even bring himself to do anything more than kiss her. It seems the decision to have him dance for her rather than with her was Foreshadowing this eventual twist.
- Karma and Amy's dance at Farrah's wedding reception in the season one finale of Faking It. While not the slow, romantic dance usually seen, the wild, carefree manner in which they dance to 'their song', as though they're the only ones in the room, makes it clear to everyone present that they have feelings for each other.
- Keri Hilson's song "Slow Dance", which is the quoted at the top of this page, is about this.
- The song "I Saw Her Standing There" by The Beatles is this trope in distilled form, combining the related tropes High School Dance, Holding Hands and Love at First Sight.
- Toby Keith's "You Shouldn't Kiss Me like This" combines this, Everyone Can See It and First Kiss. "Everybody swears we make the perfect pair, but dancing is as far as it goes. Girl, you've never moved me quite the way you moved me tonight." Clearly, the girl is giving a massive neon sign of a hint to her previously (possibly) Oblivious to Love partner, and everybody there thinks it's about time.
- Romeo and Juliet first meet at the Capulet's party, so some adaptations have them dance before they first speak to one another.
- West Side Story during the dance at the gym. Tony and Maria see each other for the first time and dance. It's a cha-cha, not a waltz, but it fits.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has an interesting variation. Mrs. Lovett is interested in Sweeney for the entire first half, but he's totally oblivious. Then come "A Little Priest", he notices her in a different light and they waltz. The catch? This sudden romantic interest is due to her...unsual idea of how to dispose of the body of the man he just killed.
- Miss Saigon is another atypical variation; Kim and Chris dance together, which seems to be the usual practice in the club before going off with a client, but there's only a hint of affection; they don't fall deeply in love until afterwards, and the scene that looks like a typical Dance of Romance is the reprise of the song they danced to when they first met.
- Sort of happens in The Sound of Music: Maria and Captain Von Trapp, when the kids ask to be shown the 'Laendler'. Whilst the audience (and the Baroness) can see this coming long before that, it's the first time either of the eventual couple give any inkling of noticing they love each other.
- Final Fantasy VIII. The scene where Rinoa persuades Squall to dance with her is where you first know that they're the Official Couple. (Well, y'know, besides the image on the cover.)
- Final Fantasy VI, the Falling in Love Montage between Maduin and Madonna depicts them dancing and floating all over the screen.
- Elaine does this with Guybrush in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood, although it is parodied as a "Freaky Waltz of Attempted Rape".
- In MOTHER 1/EarthBound Zero, Ninten and Ana dance together when they're alone in a healing house, after which Ana asks Ninten if he loves her. The dance is a primitive 8-bit one that only uses their walking sprites, but it's heartwarming nonetheless.
- The dance party scene in Chicken Run includes one for the two leads (especially significant for the heroine.) Unlike most examples, it uses a fast-tempo song.
- Happens to Kick and Kendall in the episode "Dancing With the Enemy" on Kick Buttowski when they both share their first mutual hint of being attracted to one another (Kendall being the only one that sort of have hinted at it for a second or two previously)... however, the moment is broken thanks to an off-screen classmate who is apparently an on board shipper for this couple.
Kick: "You're so elegant..."
Kendall: "And you're so awesome..."
Off-Screen Kid: "KISS HER!"
- It's pretty clear that this trope was in full effect at the end of Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama when Kim and Ron returned to the prom and danced to the song "Could It Be" which incidentally fit the mood perfectly, culminating in their First Kiss.
- Sym-Bionic Titan: After Ilana misses the dance she worked so hard on (to set up the theme, as it reminded her of her home planet). Lance decides to cheer her up by putting on a hat and sharing a dance with her. Jason and Maribel's dance from earlier (after said couple abandoned them earlier) could be seen as this, although not the dance between Kimmy and her ex-boyfriend Brandon.
- While Aang's feelings for Katara had been somewhere on the spectrum between Precocious Crush and Unrequited Love for quite a while, their dance scene in "The Headband" was the first time it looked like his attraction might be reciprocated. (A certain trip through a cave notwithstanding.)
- Scarecrow and The Queen Of Night have one of these in The Magic Adventures Of Mumfie episode "Scarecrowella".
- Can be Truth in Television. Waltz songs are often romantic or ballad type songs, and having someone listen to that while having to concentrate on a dance partner can plant the idea that leads to romance.