General Dance Discussion > Friendliness At Social Dances, Related to Type of Dance?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Phil Owl, Apr 1, 2003.

  1. Phil Owl

    Phil Owl Well-Known Member

    Something that I think about from time to time (and even got asked to comment on as part of a college newspaper's report on social dancing).

    While certainly not intending to generalize by any means, I have observed that the friendliness level at social dances seems to be connected to the type of dance it is.

    For example, I have personally found that EC Swing events seem to have the friendliest most relaxed atmosphere and people, while more traditional ballroom is noticeably less so at times, somewhat more uptight (though I have been to one regular mixed ballroom studio party that is extremely friendly). WC Swing events I have noticed some uptightness at too (though I love the dancing).

    I haven't really delved into the Salsa scene yet, so I am curious of your observations in that realm too.

    Any thoughts or observations from y'all?
  2. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Great thread Phil!

    As far as I see it, salsa, more then any other dance really is a family atmosphere...but not just at the surface level. Once you're in, it is very warm and cozy, while if you are not, even if you're treated in a very friendly manner, it is still clear that you're not an "insider." I know that the last time I was in Toronto, it was very difficult to get any of the more experienced dancers to dance with me, since I was an “outsider” and, since only the less experienced dancers would dance with me, I wasn’t being seen as an “unknown relative” by the more experienced dancers. Note, however, that in one’s familiar haunts, familial membership is not proficiency based – this just tends to be the only calling card recognized when visiting other “families.”

    There's also the fact that many "families" (especially these days) have very dysfunctional elements and dynamics as there's definite “in-fighting" but, because its still a "family", everyone still comes together when faced with an outside "threat." For example, a couple of years ago there was a huge fight in San Diego about if salsa should be danced "on1" or "on2"...people were really getting angry and upset, and clear factions were forming. When it was suggested, however, that the dancers from "x" city were better dancers, well, that was pretty much the end of the division regarding timing (at least as a socially divisive issue).

    I think there’s also the more blatantly sensual (/sexual) dynamic of salsa, as well as the Latin cultural influence which all contribute as well…if one looks do be of Latino decent, one is more readily integrated into the family (regardless of dancing ability). Such a person is assumed to have cultural affinity to the scene and to understand that the sensuality and even blatant flirtation of the dancing is not (necessarily) indicative of anything off of the dance floor. Since such an assumption cannot be made about non-(appearing)-Latinos, they are less readily accepted, although, once accepted, are just as much of an “insider.”

    I would guess that a similar dynamic is at least partially in play regarding the other dance forms you mention – the more body contact involved, the less (initially) friendly the setting…until one establishes one’s “credentials.”

    Anyway, just my take on it…
  3. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Great topic! I think we all prefer to find friendly people... :D

    I think the answer to this question depends on 2 main things:
    1) How much do you like the type of dance? I think if you enjoy the music and moves there is a greater chance you will like the people.
    2) The venue: Some venues provide a really nice atmosphere that attracts really nice people. On the other hand, I've also been to a swing night held at a club that has heavy metal and punk on most of the other nights.
  4. Phil Owl

    Phil Owl Well-Known Member

    That brings into play a very powerful aspect of Social Dance. When people see that you're having a great time, they're definitely drawn to you! I'll never forget this, a little while ago, at my fave swing venue Swing City in Cambridge MA, a woman I asked to dance said to me, "Phil, I've watched you dance, you just look like you're really enjoying yourself out there." That encouraged me greatly! :D
  5. Anonymous

    Anonymous New Member

    I have found ballroom to be least social, Salsa to be very ability stratified, and modern jive to be the most social forms of dance I have experienced.

  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    This is a great topic. I can't believe it stopped after so few posts. Let's bring it back to life, shall we?

    Around here, I find the C&W scene to be the friendliest. Lots of rowdiness, intermingling, and fun all around. Maybe it's all the line dancing. I don't know what it is, but you can walk into a C&W club alone or with a friend or two, and before long, be part of the crowd. The pop/club scene is pretty friendly too.

    Now salsa and ballroom, two different situations entirely.

    SDsalsaguy's observations from earlier in this thread about the salsa scene are right on. If you're in, you're in. If you're not, well, good luck. Strictly BYODP (bring your own dance partner). It's easier, though, if you go to "mixed" clubs where there are more than just Latin people dancing, and when you dress to look the part. For Latin clubs, I definitely dress with a little more flash.

    The ballroom scene here is weird. Cliques everywhere. Studio groups tend to go out together, and dance among themselves. And there are a lot of people who will only dance with their official dance partner or with their spouse. Weird, to me. Especially since these aren't top pros here. They're just ordinary folks who are pretty stand-offish, if you ask me.

    That's why, really early on, some friends and I formed our group of "crazy friends who can't dance." We go out together every weekend, and have a blast among ourselves, no matter where we are. Of course, we came up with the name a couple years ago, when we really couldn't dance. We're all doing better now. I hope. :shock: :lol:
  7. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    This is a great topic . . . one that maybe we can get to the bottom of . . . help to find a cure . . . get it some shots, or something.

    Around here, C&W is also the friendliest . . . most clubs and social clubs will accept everyone . . . you can dance with just about anyone . . . and there is little or no trouble . . . although some places have been known to be very rough as cowboys and bikers don't seem to mix!

    Swing . . . WCS, ECS, Hustle, NC2S, Cha, Shag, and some Lindy dance places are next . . . seem to be good crowds, but can tend to be cliquish.

    I've been to several ballroom events/socials/dances . . . whatever they are called . . . no one even said "hello" . . . was even asked "why we were there" as we were paying to go in. I asked several ladies to dance, but was turned down. I won't tell you what my reply was after the third turn down!

    My wife was not even asked to dance and she dances better than most of the ladies there! Carolyn and I danced, and eventually people started asking us where we took our lessons and if "we taught." I won't tell you our answers to this either . . .

    We've been to two Salsa dances and had a blast . . . of course our Salsa is new - we're beginners - but we fit in!

    I keep taking ballroom lessons though, in hopes of one day, understanding why so many of them walk around with their noses in the clouds??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
  8. MissAlyssa

    MissAlyssa New Member

    Hmm..I think it's got to do with both the venue and the level of dancing.
  9. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    My own experience is the friendliest atmosphere is at ballroom dance venues and events. The least so has been those held by the local WCS group here and I'm just talking about this specific group and not WCS dancers in general.

    Now, I've had different people tell me about cliquishness and snobbery at some venues including the one I attend, but I never notice; everyone seems pretty open and friendly to me.
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I think a lot may depend on your personality, too. When I get to one of those cliquish dances, I just ignore the snobs, find any available guy, and start dancing. There are usually a few outsiders you can snag.
  11. Porfirio Landeros

    Porfirio Landeros New Member

    I've noticed that even in the 'snobbiest' of places, they tend to have a mixer or Jack and Jill. These really seem to break the ice with the group. I've found that the people that at first seemed stuck up we're really just shy or intimidated.

    Could it be that ballroom dancers are more shy and less outward? Is this because ballroom dancers tend to be older... or nerdier ;) ?
  12. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    Was just thinking about that myself. Perhaps those people who feel they are in a snobbish enviroment are those who wait for someone to approach them with a request for a dance rather then do so themselves either out of shyness or intimidation like you say. Also, I know that there are some women who come to the dances who have not gotten use to the fact that it's ok for them to ask a man for a dance.
  13. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    I'm pretty much in agreement with SD about the salsa scene. On your home turf you are 'family'. Just like Cheers everybody knows your name, you won't have a chance to sit because your dance card is full before you even get there, and your ability level doesn't matter! Nothing but luv (with some family infighting of course)

    It gets interesting when you travel. In LA I'm 'family' too. I have over 40 salsa dancing friends there so I was adopted into the scene. When I went to San Jose recently I couldn't beg a dance...that is until I danced with a friend up there and they saw my ability level. Once that dance was over I was considered a friend of all of them. Not an insider mind you.
  14. RumbaRumbera

    RumbaRumbera New Member

    L.A. Salsa Friendliness

    For women, the L.A. salsa scene is friendly ONLY if you are young (generally under 30), or dress like a hooker, or are Asian, or display your jewelry-adorned navel or fake breasts.
  15. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I think you will get a better array of responses here
  16. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry RR, but (A) you have already posted this same sentiment elsewhere, and (B) your use of over-generalizations is highly insulting to any number of dancers and DF members. In other words, discuss issues if you wish but throwing around such generalized dispersions isn't going to cut it here.
  17. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    Isn't salsa scene typically a nightclub, not a studio? Nightclubs usually have different feel, they usually have drinks and visitors who came there to have a drink and not to dance. FWIW, I never felt quite comfortable in such setting, but I feel quite at home at studio socials (and not just the one I go to most).
  18. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    yah, there's a definitely different vibe between salsa socials than clubs. i prefer clubs, BF prefers socials... socials so friendly... clubs definitely trickier... maybe a 0.002% pickup vibe at socials, but a potentially very high pickup vibe to be aware of at clubs, adding another dimension that must be navigated smartly as far as being & responding to people's friendliness.
  19. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    I guess I agree with your BF, I prefer studio socials, as long as people mix (at most socials I went to on LI, they did not and it made it more or less waste of time to come there without a partner).
  20. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    yah, socials are so pleasant, and there's always WAY way more room to move.

    i just like the energy of clubs. but most of all, i don't like getting such an early start, especially on a friday. i like to go home after work, chill a bit after the long week, take a little disco nap, then get ready & go. can easily start my evening at 11:00. isn't gonna happen for a social.

    also, i live an hour from every early-start social... BF lives but minutes away. :)

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