I recently read an interesting and enlightening article aimed at Tango leads and was both pleased and dismayed to see that a lot of the issues that are faced by follows in Blues dancing are actually faced by follows in all partner dancing.
Pleased – because it is clear that these are issues that are non-specific to Modern Blues dancing, which means we can blame the dancer and not the dance.
Dismayed – because it seems such a shame that we even need to mention half of these things. And also because the people that we would hope to take these thoughts on board are most likely to be the people who won’t read them or apply them.
So I’m going to tell you what other dancers tell me.
#1 UNSOLICITED DANCE ADVICE
No-one wants it.
Whether this is in the class, on the social dance floor or at the side of the floor.
People go to class to learn from the teacher. They turn up on time, pay good money, listen carefully and try their best to implement everything that is being asked of them by the teacher. So they do NOT want YOU teaching them. Ever.
Don’t do it. It is confusing. Everybody is unique. What feels perfect to one will feel odd to another. If something isn’t working and your follow isn’t doing what you expect – change your lead! Improve YOUR dancing – let your follow (or lead) focus on improving theirs.
And you know what really works..? Always assuming that anything that goes wrong is at least 50% your fault and then going all out to improve your side of things. That works!
#2 WARM WELCOME
It isn’t easy going somewhere new, particularly by yourself. And we all want to be part of a warm and welcoming club. But there is a big difference in making people welcome and making people uneasy.
Asking a new person to dance is good. Asking a new person for their phone number, to go out with you or to give up their life story to you is not. Neither should you feel the need to share your life story with them. They are there to dance – so let them!
Having a dance or two during the evening with a new person is great. Monopolising that person and making them feel uncomfortable is not.
Do you know that the same social boundaries apply IN dance as they do outside of it? If you’re doing or saying things that you wouldn’t want said or done to your wife/daughter/mother/girlfriend/boyfriend/son/husband/father by someone else – then don’t do it.
And these things apply to everyone – not just new people…
Also, don’t assume that every ‘new’ person that comes to the venue is new to dance. There are a lot of people in the dance world – many of them will have been dancing a lot longer than you!
Try to get the balance right. If you’ve asked someone to dance two or three times in the evening, maybe let them ask you for the next one. We can’t be everyone’s favourite dancer – but we don’t want to be their worst stalker.
#3 RESPECT PEOPLE’S PERSONAL SPACE
Modern Blues is a dance that focuses on close hold. This is not an excuse for inappropriate contact – from either partner…
It means we have to take extra care to avoid inappropriate contact and overstepping the personal boundaries of those we dance with. Ours is a dance of style, of elegance, of joy – so let’s make it our aim to avoid anything that might give it – or you – accusations of being sleazy.
These are a few of the things that people have asked me to comment on recently…
It’s not a lead vs follow thing. It’s not a guys vs girls thing. These things and more apply across the board. Mostly everything works out OK, but now and then these things just need a mention…
And just as a reminder – if something happens at our events that IS bothering you, please let us know. We can deal with most things given the opportunity… Blues Nites do already have a safety policy on the web site (https://bluesnites.co.uk/your-safety) – we’re going to be giving that some thought over the next couple of weeks so we can make dancing at Blues Nites an even more safe, respectful and enjoyable experience for all.
These are all part of our one goal as leads and as follows – to remember to give good dance!
Feel free to share this with others on Facebook . . .
(by the way, Adam and Tilly’s original blog post, although Tango focused, is very interesting and much of what it says applies across the board. Why not take a look… adamandtilly.com/adams-note-to-tango-leaders)