I like dancing with strangers.

Mostly salsa, cumbia, forro, bachata…

Sometimes I’ll try a Romanian folk dance too.

(I don’t know how to Romanian folk dance.)

Often the only words said are “thank you” or “gracias.”

Sometimes they ask your name.

You hope they don’t ask for your number.

Usually they don’t.

Older men make the best dancers.

Often they lead you back to your table and pull out your chair.

Sometimes they say “gracias” to you, and then to your friends for allowing them to borrow you.

They don’t ask for your number.

I like following.

I like surrendering entirely to the movement of another person.

Things are very clear.

He is the man.

He leads.

You are the woman.

You follow.

This is unquestionable.

Otherwise you just mess things up.

So I just follow.

I’m not supposed to like that.

But I do.

To follow, you have to listen to the man’s hands.

I like that a man can control me with just one hand holding my hand, one hand on my back.

I like not knowing what comes next.

Sometimes I still mess things up.

Sometimes we dance very close.

Sometimes they dance a little too close.

Sometimes I can smell their sweat.

Sometimes I worry they can smell mine.

Usually it doesn’t matter.

Usually we don’t make eye contact when we dance.

Sometimes I don’t know where I’m supposed to look.

Sometimes this makes me a little nervous.

Sometimes I go to a dance club alone.

Sometimes this makes me really nervous.

Usually getting asked for the first dance takes a little time.

Sometimes getting asked for the first dance takes a little effort.

Sometimes I try different facial expressions to look like I want to be asked.

Usually after they see you dance, other men come to ask.

Usually after each dance, you change partners.

Sometimes you dance with the same man most of the night.

Usually not.

I try to make a good impression on the good dancers.

I try to make the bad dancers feel not so bad.

I like when the good dancers ask me to dance again.

With each dance, I get to know their favorite moves.

Sometimes, by the end of the night, I know all their moves.

I have never danced like this with a man I loved.




Julia Loktev was born in 1969 in Leningrad, Russia. Her latest film THE LONELIEST PLANET, released by Sundance Selects in October 2012, won the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Film Festival and was selected in the New York Film Festival. Her previous films include DAY NIGHT DAY NIGHT, which premiered in Cannes in Directors Fortnight, where it won the Youth Prize, and MOMENT OF IMPACT, which won the Best Director award at Sundance. Julia has also shown video installation work at Tate Modern and P.S.1.