Dance Articles > Banning Same Sex Partners could be Illegal

Discussion in 'Dance Articles' started by DanceMentor, Jul 15, 2014.

  1. Cal

    Cal Well-Known Member

    It's kind of long: It's a journey that took me WAY too long to start. So, this will be a really long post.

    When I signed up for my very first lessons, I'd just assumed that students learned both parts, because that's the "whole" dance (and after all, I'd grown up seeing women dancing with women on the Lawrence Welk show, and they had to learn that somewhere). So, I was surprised to be told that the women needed to learn only the follower's part, and the men needed to learn only the leader's part. I thought it was odd to learn only half of each dance, but it was marketed to me as: "See, it's going to be easier than you thought! You're a woman – you don't need to learn what the man does; and men don't need to learn what you do." My reaction: Oh? – you think I'm too stupid/lazy to learn more than the bare minimum? Well, I thought, that might be fine for other people, but not me. So, I decided that once I'd learned to follow, then I'd spend the time to learn to lead.

    Yeah. Well, then like many, many other people, when I started lessons I totally underestimated the time it would take me to learn the follower's part – I NEVER expected that it would take years/decades to do that. Being a perfectionist didn't help, and placing poorly in competitions only reinforced the notion that I had no business trying to learn the other half of each dance, when I can't even do my own part properly. So, I kept plugging away as a follower.

    A couple of years ago, I did a showdance with a former pro in which I lead for part of the dance (well, actually, I "back-followed"). That re-kindled my interest in taking lessons to learn to lead properly – but it was put on the backburner because there were always competitions coming up and I was still clinging to the erroneous belief that getting some decent placements as a follower were just around the corner.

    Early this year, I was reaching the point of burnout – did it really matter if I knew all my alignments, when the leader changed them anyway according to traffic? What's the point in knowing the theory of how to do my jobs as follower, when I move so awkwardly anyway? Then, my current Pro was injured, and his partner started covering lessons for him. Initially I worked with her to get the female perspective on the follower's part, but because she's so much shorter than I am, it was hard to work on those things with her as lead, and I started to think that I wasn't getting great value out of my lessons, and competitions were on hold pending Pro's recovery. So – I resurrected the idea of learning to lead, and Pro and his partner were very, very supportive.

    Now, let me tell you: my Pro has always told me that when he leads he will do his own jobs, but he will NOT do the follower's jobs too. While he's aware of where the follower is, he does not "put the lady here" or "place the lady there" or "move her" wherever. No. He will move himself down LOD using proper alignments and technique, etc. to the place he wants to go using the figures he wants to use – but it's the follower's job to "read" his movements, apply follower's technique and move down the floor herself. As a follower, I very, very much appreciate that - I hate it when leaders get in the way of my ability to move because they are trying to "put" me somewhere rather than moving with proper technique themselves.

    So, Pro and his partners are teaching me to lead that way: I am told to pay attention, above all, to CBM, and to rise/fall, and alignments, and to give my follower movement that's clear and easy to read. Beyond that, it's up to her to read it and to move herself.

    I'm still skeptical. While this approach might work well with trained followers, I don't know if it works well with untrained followers who don't know how to read movement and can't move themselves. I don't particularly want to have to deal with an untrained follower who expects me to "put" her somewhere or "move" her down the floor.

    For now, though, I'm just paying attention to what "I" need to do. I'm interested in finding out out what happens next.
    Sania, JudeMorrigan, stash and 3 others like this.
  2. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Same as it ever was... As someone who dances with a lot of inexperienced follows on Friday night, and being a fairly strong guy, I long ago fell into the habit of moving my partner when I dance with such an inexperienced follow, because it's easier than trying to sort out what she will perceive with different leads. I can't tell you how many times, with a beginning follow, I've raised her hand to indicate an underar turn and tried to make the direction of the turn very clear, only to have her fight it and turn the other way.

    The problem is, when you do it with an experienced follow; one of three things will happen, none of them good: (1) she'll amp up her movement to an extreme because, as she perceives it, you want her to move more; (2) she'll resist it because she knows you aren't supposed to do that, or (3) it will get her confused because it feels like a self-contradicting lead. When I'm dancing with an experienced follow, I have to really remind myself to maintain a strong frame but use a light touch. I certainly won't claim that I get it right all the time; when things are not going well, it's easy to fall back into the "lazy" habit.

    By the way, thanks for that bit of writing you did. It was enlightening.
    FancyFeet likes this.
  3. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Yes, I've experienced the same as a lead. I do not get why followers will resist you and go opposite the direction you are clearly leading.
  4. Cal

    Cal Well-Known Member

    For what it's worth, when I had my first practice with my female-am partner, there were people gathering for the start of a group class in another room. There was one woman, maybe late-60s, who sat down and glared at us until her class started – she didn't even take her glare off of us as she changed her shoes. There were two other women, maybe 50-ish, who stood and watched us and then whispered to each other, and watched/whispered, and watched and pointed and whispered, until their class started. I wish I knew what they were all thinking; for all I know, maybe they were all observing my crappy Double Reverse Spin. The men who were in the group class seemed to be either totally oblivious to us, or totally uninterested. It was the women who stared at us.
  5. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I hope you didn't let it bother you! They're just jealous. :) thankfully, we have a large contingent of same sex dancers here.
    RiseNFall likes this.
  6. Cal

    Cal Well-Known Member

    No, no. Didn't bother me at all.

    And tonight at my lessons, I found out that in that group class that day, they were short a few men. One of the whisperers stepped forward to say she'd like to try leading.

    Heh - Ya never know, huh?!
  7. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    I would've been staring; looking for an opening to talk with you about dancing together at least a little bit in the future. :)
  8. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I dance with a lot of inexperienced follows myself, but I've developed a different approach. If I sense she's opposing my lead, I'll give a bit of extra firmness in the connection. But if it turns into arm wrestling, I let 'em win because it's supposed to be dancing, not wrestling.

    I usually pick something simple like a rumba to tryout someone I haven't seen before. Starts off with some simple boxes while I assess her basic movements and give her a chance to get used to me. Maybe try something like parallel rocks and see how she handles it. Simple stuff in closed hold to start out, then depending on my assessment I'll lead an outside turn. If she were to insist on doing an inside turn, then that's what it would become -- but she wouldn't get another turn. If my assessment doesn't turn out well, we might just do boxes the whole song -- it's just 3 or 4 minutes and even if it's not my best dance of the evening maybe it is for her.
  9. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    I generally only see it among raw-beginner follows who haven't yet learned the basic concepts of connection. As snapdancer said, if it's obvious that she did not sense or did not understand the lead, I don't lead that again during that dance.
  10. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

  11. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Yep... when leads try to 'do it for me', I get really confused. I either put more power in and end up running away from them, or assume that I'm getting manhandled because I'm not reacting the way they expect... so I get stressed and start trying to guess what they were trying to lead and try different responses the next time, which then makes them stressed because I'm not understanding them and am being unpredictable. Basically, it's a mess :)

    FWIW, this happens to everyone at some points... pro has a nasty tendancy to crank me in a certain running spin turn in my waltz routine thanks to some of his other students that need the help, which makes me inject more power, which makes us overturn, which makes the next figure - which is supposed to be controlled and delayed, with lots of shape and stretch - look just awful. Ah, chain reactions. Last night I may have declared that I could turn myself, thank you very much, because "I'm a big girl now", and that all I need is a light indication to go.

    And learning to lead is fun. I can do the basics (pre-bronze to bronze, depending on the dance) in all of the standard dances and a few of the latin ones. It improved my following, especially while social dancing. Understanding what is going on in the leader's head has made it easy for me to understand and interpret what they are trying to tell me.
  12. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    When a leader over-leads me in a turn and I do a bunch of spins (or one really fast one) as a result, I usually laugh and say, "Whoa! I'm a hair trigger." Gets the message across but makes them laugh to diffuse the nerves/tension.
  13. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    We should make this a separate thread... "Follows Learning Lead" or some such.

    FF, how difficult, or not, has it been to learn floorcraft?
    Lioness likes this.
  14. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    I haven't found it too tough, but then, I spend an awful lot of time practicing by myself as a follow so I'm pretty used to navigating. TBH, it's nice to be able to stand up straight and have a fuller field of vision - so much easier than trying to steer using just the edges of your visual field because you're looking at the ceiling!

    I struggle with newer dancers who move in unpredicable ways (same as in my solo practice!), so I much prefer to lead during a class or when the social floor is a bit emptier... but that would probably be overcome if I did it regularly. I really only lead when we're short guys or I can't practice due to floor space so I jump into a class (and to alleviate boredom, I usually do this as a leader).

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