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October 18, 2023 45 mins
Judging from teen dramas on Netflix, the slow dance seems to be alive and well. But when you talk to actual teens, it’s clear this time-honored tradition is on life support. In this episode, we trace the history of slow dancing from its origins in partner dances like the waltz to the modern “zombie sway” seen at middle-school dances and high-school proms. Plus, former slow dancers offer up stiff-armed, nostalgia-soaked stories about a rite of passage that’s fading fast. Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin and Katie Shepherd. This episode was edited by Zakiya Gibbons. Derek John is executive producer. Joel Meyer is senior editor/producer. Merritt Jacob is our senior technical director. Thank you to Benjamin Frisch and Carlos Pareja. Special thanks to everyone who shared their slow dancing stories, including Ralph Giordano, Matt Baume, Meryl Bezrutczyk, Ari Feldman, Ava Canade, Eileen Zheng, and Harper Kois. Here’s the article by Kyle Denis that we mentioned in the episode: The Death of the Slow Dance? How the One-Time Rite of Passage Has Evolved for Gen Z.  If you haven’t yet, please subscribe and rate our feed in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And even better, tell your friends. If you’re a fan of the show, we’d love for you to sign up for Slate Plus. Members get to listen to Decoder Ring without any ads. Their support is also crucial to our work. So please go to to join Slate Plus today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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