Question by User realname3
I’ve been involved for about a year now. When I first started I had no issue asking anybody and everybody to dance as it was just practice (no expectations, was getting my reps in)
Once I got to a comfortable level I started to hesitate in asking the newer/better follows to the point where I don’t ask them anymore. I’m more selective in choosing a dance partner now. It’s silly, but if I feel that there’s a higher chance of us not enjoying our dance together I’d rather just not ask as it’s ruined my nights before.
Anybody go through this dilemma or going through it?
I’ve caught myself kinda settling into going for dance partners that appear to be around my level/look like they’ll be able to throw at them. But every so often I’ll either get recruited by my friend to dance with random extreme beginner friends he brought along and I’m always struck with the inspiration to do more of it.
I think of it like this – I was once an absolutely green beginner not too long ago and know the feeling of intimidation and utter fear of watching everyone else appear to spin and move with such ease; it’s the least I can do to “lower my standards” or whatever, and have a dance or two with them. It gives me a chance to refocus on the basics of frame and step, as well as gives a lot more opportunity to “connect” with the partner and focus less on the newest intermediate pattern I learned and how I’m gonna throw it at her. Furthermore, my instructor taught me and continues to work through teaching me how to “simplify” complicated-looking moves for beginner follows and very intentionally lead/signal (sure, the styling is usually sacrificed a little, but the follows will adore you for it if you’re willing to sacrifice the time).
Basically, some of the dances that have left me feeling the best about myself and about the dance in general consisted only of forward/backward basics, a few CBLs sprinkled in, and some basic right turns – but the feeling you get when you see your partner beaming because they’re actually dancing is unbeatable. And I’ve been told from some of the highest level dancers I’ve met that the only way to continue to getting better is to dance with absolute beginners as well as dancers who have it together completely and can do quadruple spin patterns I can’t even begin to lead properly. Those dances tend to make you aware of what you need to work on.
PS – as mentioned earlier, there is a danger of dancing too much with dancers who aren’t progressing as fast or aren’t putting any effort at all into getting better because you have the tendency to develop bad habits – but I haven’t completely abandoned them – I simply put forth an intentional effort to lead even more intentionally and again, focus on the basics.
it’s all about your motivation for dancing. Because you are dancing for fun instead of training you of course become more selective to only pick dancers that you enjoy. That’s normal and blanket rules about whether you should dance with anyone or not are not interesting enough.
I’m ten years in, beginner, intermediate, advanced, teacher, casual, cancer, recovery, part time. etc.. I’ve been through the works and danced through it all, there are plenty of reasons why you won’t want to dance with people, just as there are plenty of reasons you will want to. Once you understand your own motivations more clearly then you will relax into your existence and accept who you are, and also allow others to be who they are.
If you want to be fearless, then you need to understand the narrative behind your motivations and cultivate the story that gives you the edge. Every dance is an opportunity to learn something, are you upto the challenge? or are you here to have fun. Both are totally valid, as are all the infinite ways humans are motivated to dance.
It varies for myself. I have been dancing and training regularly for 4+ years now.
It is easy to go for the same people who you enjoy dancing with. I frequently see local dance studio cliques who only dance with each other and keep to themselves at socials.
But ultimately I believe it´s good to ask everyone, including beginners and complete newbies. It´s a a part of keeping a scene alive and contributes to good vibes in general. We were all beginners once.
I remember stammeringly asking an experienced follow back when I knew a CBL and a right turn. She was kind enough to say yes. Since then we have made many trips abroad to dance festivals and dance frequently together. So you never know where things might go. So paying it forward is good.
At the same time, I would not want to dance with complete beginners all night either. Gauge your own feelings, but try to challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort zone in a suitable way. You might be pleasantly surprised! Part of the social dancing experience is that things are beyond your control and accepting that, IMO. So don´t beat yourself up over less than stellar dances.
It´s fun also to dance with practicioners of different styles, makes you think outside the box. I can´t really dance casino/Cuban, but have had excellent fusion dances where a Cuban-style follower has adapted to my linear style and vice versa. Also horrible ones where the experiment has not worked at all, but there you go. 😉
Sometimes I psyche myself to go for the super advanced follows (e.g. a visiting teacher), but that depends on my mood as well. I also had the chance to dance with a big shot follower at a festival this year. I was pretty much peeing my pants in the beginning since I am a fan of her, but it turned out to be a genuinely wonderful experience.
So don´t lose your fearlessness completely!
What do you mean? I dance with all levels, I dance with beginners, or even sometimes women that don’t know how to dance salsa. I like the bar/club scene, so sometimes I get women that only know cumbia. By dancing with people that can’t follow you, you learn to tune your moves to something that they can handle, you learn to use extra clear signals and prep them ahead of time, you learn to bail out on moves half way and flow into another one. It actually makes you a better dancer, because you have to react and think quick, you can’t just follow a preset game plan. All the while, keeping the beat.
Now I wouldn’t want to dance with beginners only, because like what you alluded to, if you ONLY dance with a single group of people you’ll end up adjusting too much to them only. Variety is key. Dance with all levels, different people from different backgrounds, different studios, street dancers… etc. That makes you a better dancer in my opinion. Because students from the same studio/teacher will typically end up having tribal knowledge that people outside of the studio wouldn’t know. You don’t really know a move unless you can spring it on an unsuspecting follow. Someone that practiced the same pattern 20 time with you last week is not unsuspecting.
But I do want to point out that I’m talking strictly social dancing. Performance/competition dancing you probably want to focus on your partner only. That’s totally different.
The only dancers you should stay away from are the snobby ones. And personally I like to help out women that are not getting dances. Typically older ladies and beginners without confidence. I won’t do that all night, because like I mentioned before, variety.
If I go to a new place sometimes I’ll ask the teacher to dance. Usually they are much better dancer than I am, so they’ll make me look good, plus they typically will not turn you down, and will at least appear to have a good time, for business reasons. But I’m not there to make friends or hook up, so as long as they dance with me, I don’t care what the reason is. Bonus is it shows the other women there that I have the balls to ask the teacher. Similar to dating, it establishes the pecking order. The teacher is the largest fish in the pond, and I just danced with her. That raises my social pecking order, and other women are less likely to turn me down. You might think it’s funny that I’d play this psychology, but I’ve danced at cliquey and unfriendly places before.
Perhaps they are talking about the fact that if you dance a lot with a certain level of followers, you will get used to leading on that level and it can cause issues when you dance with other levels of just try to do more difficult figures. IMO a mark of being an advanced lead is that you can adapt well to different followers but it won’t mess with your baseline.