Cuddle Dip

Type    Dip
Level     Level 3 Beginner
Other Names    Sweetheart Dip
Comes From    Open Position (Butterfly)
Leads To   Fall Through Dip, Outside TurnStraight Jacket TwistSpin Out, Open Position (Butterfly),


The leader wraps the follower in a perpendicular Cuddle or Wrap position, then lowers to dip the follower’s upper body back. This is one of the easiest dips to learn and use with anyone. It’s all physics!


Warning: It’s always a good idea to ask your follow if they will do dips before you do them. Assumptions could lead to injury or an awkward experience. When in doubt, ask! If you want a low-risk dip, this is the best one to learn, because you can dip a little or a lot depending on you and your partner’s comfortability.

Footwork for leads is L, R, lunge R with counts “1&2” (or L, lunge R with counts “1 2” if you and your partner get really comfortable with the set up). The first step should always be in time with the music, then after that you may slow down as you wish.

  1. Begin in Butterfly Open Position, and do a Cuddle turn. During the turn of the cuddle you will step forward with your left and rotate yourself counter-clockwise 90-degrees so your follower ends up perpendicular to you. You will form a letter “T” with your bodies.
    • Two steps “L, R” will feel most comfortable for beginners so you remember to open to the right.
    • Help the follower to not over rotate by creating a barrier with your right forearm. Extend your right arm from your side the same way you would to do a hammer curl with a dumbbell.
    • Help the follow to not under-rotate by bringing your left hand inward toward your belly button.
  2. Hold on to both hands, especially the right hand–it is connected to your follow’s left in a lasso around your partner. 
    • Hold your partner close and at your midline. There should be no air between your bellybutton and their side.
  3. On count 2 (or when you’re all set to dip), step out to the right and bend that knee into a side lunge. You can bend both knees if that is more comfortable.
    • The strength of this move is in your right thigh. Step out wide enough for your follower’s mid-back to land above your right thigh. You may add more support with your right forearm next to or on top of your thigh.
  4. When you’re ready to come up from the dip, you will use the muscle in your right leg to straighten your leg, then step your right foot beside your left foot to bring the follow back up to her feet and end the dip.


  1. Footwork is R L, tilt. The first step should always be in time with the music, after that you may slow down if you wish.
    • Right foot forward, Left foot & turn 180-degrees, then tilt back from your upper body to be dipped.
  2. Your lead will indicate a Cuddle Turn, step through with your right and pivot to turn 180-degrees. Bring your left foot next to your right.
  3. This will feel like a normal cuddle turn, but the leader will reorient himself so that you create a “T” position where your left side is in line with his bellybutton. Press that side into him so there is no air between you, this is important.
  4. Next, you will feel his body shifting behind you and getting lower to the ground. This is the cue that a dip is happening (If you do not feel him moving in that way, do not dip yourself). Tighten your core, squeeze your thighs together, and bend your knees. Give your lead about 50% of your body weight.
    • You may lift one leg to a figure “4” to style it. Make sure both knees still face the ceiling, don’t roll it out. You may lift either leg, but the inside leg will feel most comfortable for beginners. If you choose the outside leg, be sure that you “roll” your whole body slightly toward your leader to tighten up your center of gravity.
    • You may also straighten one leg downward toward the floor if you have enough space.
    • No matter how you choose to style your legs squeeze your thighs together and keep one foot on the floor! If you remember these rules, all the styles will be easy.
    • Tilting your head back will look best. (Hello, Instagram photo op!)


  • The main things that make this move work are:
    • Maintaining a tight center of gravity. In order for two people to create one center of gravity, they have to be very close in perpendicular “T” position.
    • The lead takes a wide step to make a large base of support. You want the center of gravity to be over the base of support. If it is outside that base, you will topple over.
    • Supporting legs of both partners. Three feet on the ground at all times.
  • Feel for those points of contact before you dip–if it doesn’t feel right, adjust. Don’t dip if it doesn’t feel like it’s set up right.


  • Do not over rotate your upper torso toward your follow, because you could lose balance.
  • Do not let your upper body tilt past your right thigh. Keep your weight over your right foot.
  • If your follow is throwing her weight around during more basic moves, don’t do dips with her yet. She needs to correct her technique (or inebriation) before she is ready to be dipped. 
  • If you or your partner are nervous about getting up out of the dip, take a smaller step and/or lunge.
  • This move can be done regardless of you and your partner’s weight and height (to a point). The key is to aim for the middle of their back for support. Therefore, a shorter leader can dip a taller follower by taking a bigger side lunge step.
  • A lead who practices with these tips in mind can dip nearly anyone.


  • If you don’t want to be dipped, communicate that with your partner. If your lead puts you in that position before you get a chance to say something, just don’t give him your weight and you won’t be dipped.
  • Squeeze your thighs together so you don’t roll outward and fall. If anything, you want to roll in toward your partner.
  • The hinge for your dip is at the knee, not from arching your back. Think about the scene from The Matrix where Neo is dodging bullets–you want to do that.
    • Arching your back might look nice, but it can hurt your ribs and back if you or your partner isn’t careful. So avoid this until and unless you have practiced it with a specific partner and are 100% sure they will take it slow.


  •  Repeated on the other side (remember to do the opposite footwork). 
  • Arm positions may vary. The above is the most fool-proof version of it.
  • Done half-way (less than 45-degree tilt). Works great for older dancers, more formal dances, less dramatic moments, and people with bad backs or knees.
  • Performed on the opposite side (some dancers may choose to do it this way if they have a bad right knee… be sure to communicate things like this with your partner). 
  • The Fall Through Dip

7 thoughts on “Cuddle Dip

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