Switching “Leader” and “Follower” Roles: The Wedding First Dance As A Representation of A Modern Relationship

Anna Magidson, University of Northern Colorado


The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine whether introducing switch dancing as an alternative to the traditional “leader” and “follower” role dynamic in a wedding first dance could be an effective tool of empowerment for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. It was particularly important to understand whether this could have a positive impact on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and other (LGBTQIA+) community. To the researcher’s knowledge, no other academic research paper has ever examined the intersectionality between the wedding industry, the LGBTQIA+ community, and switch partner dancing. This study was developed to seek insight into the following essential questions: Q1 What are engaged participants’ existing perspectives on their first dances? Q2 Does learning about switch dancing open new possibilities for engaged couples? Q3 Is switch dancing an effective advocacy tool for empowering the LGBTQIA+ community? The research instruments included an online survey which consisted of multiple-choice, multiple-selection, and open-ended questions, and an optional follow-up virtual interview. Thirty-seven people participated in the study by engaging with the survey; of those, eight participants also participated in the interview. Permission for this research was obtained from the University of Northern Colorado’s Institutional Review Board, and consent forms were collected from all participants. Data were collected from March through September 2022. The study’s limitations included a small sample size, potential bias caused by meeting the researcher in-person, limited mathematical analyses methods available, and the research instruments’ untested validity and reliability. The outcomes of this study showed that switch dancing was an incredibly powerful tool for empowering both LGBTQIA+ and heteronormative participants. Switch dancing allowed participants to authentically represent the equality in their partnerships. The implications of changing outdated paradigms and modernizing social norms in weddings could cause significant positive effects throughout society.