9.4 On Singing, Counting Out Loud And Verbal Leads

Don't sing out loud along with the music. Hearing the song in your head to keep track of upcoming breaks is fine: but when people are lip-synching they appear to be "checked out" emotionally so they are not really connecting with their partner during the dance. I would far rather have my partner smile at me, or talk if it doesn't get in the way of concentrating on the dance, but leave the singing to the singers in the band or on the tape.

Likewise, never count the beats or tell your partner what you are about to lead during a dance. It's rude and if your partner can't follow your lead, it's because you're not leading well enough. Remember, the surprise element for the follower is part of the excitement of a dance. Verbal descriptions or step names are useless, distracting, and sometimes condescending. Half the time, the followers can't understand you, and the other half of the time, it makes them think about understanding you verbally rather than physically! You want them concentrating on the music, their line of dance, and their footwork, NOT your words. Leaders, Shut up and lead. If the followers don't follow, try it two more times. If they don't follow it on the third time, they're not ready or you're not leading it right. Either way, leave that move out with them. One follower writes: "I would want to hear "duck" or another simple suggestion if I am about to get injured. Counting is almost always irritating to me (although I confess I have done that to a partner who seems completely off)." another writes "I'm still glad to get verbal leads for shoulder rolls, which is a C/W move in which the follower spins with her head ducked and the leader's forearm skims the back of her hopefully ducked head; if she fails to duck, his arm hits her neck at high speed." Because of the contradiction just expressed ("It is wrong for a man to give verbal cues", then "I'm glad to get verbal cues for safety"), this presents a problem because the man's interpretation of when a safety cue is needed will not always agree with the lady's, and so he gets branded as "rude": based on the lady's beliefs (which he must guess), he loses if he gives a cue she perceives as unneeded, and he loses if he doesn't give a cue she thinks he should.

A major part of any couple's dancing is lead and follow. It's what makes the dance what it is. The whole idea of dancing with someone you've never danced with before and leading her through a pattern (perhaps even one she's never danced before) is a wonderful feeling! - That's what it's all about! Telling your partner what you're going to do next completely destroys the concept of lead and follow. If you say, OK, let's try a whip, she's going to be thinking "whip" regardless of what you do. And what if she learned it a little differently than you did? If she's just thinking, "OK, I go there, then I turn then he goes through, then I turn again...." then there's no lead and follow going on....and if you do something slightly different than she expects, you're going to have a problem.... If I'm doing a relatively new move, I'll count to myself. I don't count out loud unless I happen to be dancing with a partner with whom I've just taken a class or workshop and we learned a new pattern together. Then it sometimes helps both of us if I count out loud. Also, I may count out loud if I'm dancing with a total beginner who's really struggling to keep the rhythm. And occasionally, I'll count out a phrase or two even if I'm dancing with more experienced dancer, if we get out of sync... But as a rule , I try not to count out loud, even if I'm struggling, I keep it to myself.

Regarding telling the follower how to do the pattern that's about to be (or is attempting to be) led: the best guys don't ever do this. They don't have to, because moves work with them. They also have enough control over the dance, that they avoid accidents with other couples in crowded situations without talking to the follower about it. If they learn a new move, they practice it in private with a willing partner before they fling it out on the social floor with everybody. I don't mind if a real good friend asks me if we can experiment with a move he's playing around with if it's the end/beginning of the evening and the floor's empty. It is, however very insulting if a guy tries moves that he thinks he can lead but really doesn't do well, then tries to tell the follower how to do it, assuming that something's wrong with her if it didn't work. Women share notes on guys like this that are not complimentary, and we try to avoid dancing with them. Now, if the guy were at or near a pro level, and much better than me (in my opinion), I'd be more than willing to listen to what he has to tell me. But when an low-end intermediate dancer tries to instruct me, I'm thoroughly insulted. The only thing worse would be to email the follower to inform her why she couldn't follow his lousy lead!


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This file is part of the lead/follow FAQ list. These are articles compiled from the newsgroup rec.arts.dance by Mark Balzer. Html-isation by Victor Eijkhout, victor at eijkhout dot net. See also the Rec Arts Dance FAQ list Copyright 1996/7/8/9 lies with the compiler, the maintainer and the contributors of various parts.

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