9.8 On Attitude When Social Dancing

What does it take to have fun dancing? I see four possible extreme combinations:

Given dancers with good technique, what can make dancing more or less fun? Attitude, of course.

Given dancers with good attitudes, what can make dancing more or less fun? Technique, of course.

Generally, the one with the worse technique has more fun. Part of the goal of having good technique is to help your dance partner have more fun. If you want to have fun, you don't need good technique -- just a *partner* with good technique.

But if you want your dance partner to have more fun, then *you* need good technique. There are elements of social dance that are purely social, where smiles, friendly conversation, succeeding in moving to the music and doing a few basic steps, etc. override whether your partner is leaning on you, jerking you off balance, crushing your hand, trying to step on you, etc. But an amount of technique that enables you to feel good and helps your partner to look good and feel good can only enhance the experience. Some competition technique does look stilted on the social dance floor; but a lot of the technique taught by competition coaches are things that make the dance feel more in balance, more fitting to the character of the music, and smoother to both oneself and ones partner. Sometimes not knowing precisely where to put a certain part of your body results in transferring momentum to your partner and throwing them off balance. The problem you face after you learn what good dance technique feels like, is that you become more sensitive to the bad habits of your partners. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but the better social dancers are adaptive rather than ignorant. Those who can't or don't want to learn to adapt can end up paying their professional dance instructors lots of money. Otherwise, stop being concerned about your partner having fun, and just concentrate on having fun yourself; try Contra or Square or some other dance form where people tend to be less anal-retentive about "technique" but nonetheless enjoy dancing together. Fun is primary, because fun is what motivates people to *continue* dancing. If they happen to enjoy learning tons of technique as beginners, or they want to move right into competition, fine - but I don't think that's true of most people. What else is social dancing about, if not (a) getting enjoyment yourself and (b) pleasing your dance partner?

To briefly reiterate:

There's just no place for jealousy in the Dance Community. If one is of a jealous nature, going to a "real" dance is the wrong thing to do with a lover. Just walking into a dance, with all the hugs and kisses of greeting, and the additional ones after dancing, and then again at the end of an evening . . . well! If either partner cannot trust the other on the dance floor, there's major trouble. Non-dancers may get the wrong impression when they first start. Until they become familiar with the dancing community, there may be some confusion and potentially awkward moments.

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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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