Swing Discussion Boards > How to dip...not drop!

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by East Coast Bluesboy, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. First of all, I'm new to Dance Forums. I was going to start a separate thread just introducing myself, but that seems a bit wasteful. If you want to know more about me, just visit my profile. Anyway, on with my question/situation...

    A couple months ago at a swing dance venue, they were giving a short, intermediate swing group lesson, and they taught us how to do dips. I finally figured it out after a while, so after the lesson was over and the dance floor opened for the night, I asked a lady to dance (she was a beginner) and tried to dip her at the end of the song. The first part was my fault...I was just in closed position and tried to immediately put my left hand behind her back for a dip instead of properly turning into it. She got confused and didn't seem to know what I was doing, and once I finally dipped her, she put all her weight back in my hands, and then...THUMP!...she hit the floor! My face turned as red as a fire truck, I apologized, she thanked me anyway, and I walked away, never to see her again. For the next few months, I was deathly afraid to try any more dips.

    That is, until this week. On Sunday, a friend of mine with whom I was dancing (who also happens to be an instructor) said at the end of a dance, "You need to learn some dips!" I then proceeded to tell her my embarrassing story from the previous paragraph. She told me it was probably her fault for putting all her weight on me, so I decided to try to relearn it. She demonstrated it for me a couple times with another lead, and I tried it a couple times myself, so I was feeling much better about it. There were a few things I needed to work on, but I figured all I needed to do is practice. So the next night at another dance, I tried it on a couple other follows. I did okay with the first two, but the third lady I danced with got dropped AGAIN! This time, I'm pretty sure it was all my fault. She didn't put an excessive amount of weight on my arms. I think there were two things I did wrong. First of all, I think I dipped her down too low (this was kind of a blessing simply because she didn't have very far to fall...I practically laid her down on the floor), and I think the other problem is that I leaned over her. That's one thing that the instructor from the previous night kept telling me...not to actually lean over my partner. I never quite figured out how to do that though.

    Anyway, does anyone have any advice on how to avoid repeating this mistake again? I'm kind of back at the point I was at after my first dip fail...deathly afraid to try it again. But at the same time, this is something I really want to learn and get good at. Some song endings (especially in blues) just call for a dip, and I'm tired of just doing puny little spins at the end of songs. I've thought about taking some private lessons to work on it, but those are so expensive. Any suggestions?
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hi ECBB. Welcome! :)

    Thanks for sharing your story. :) Questions: Are these ladies you're dancing with familiar dance partners,or just whoever happened to be at the party that night? How deep are you dipping these ladies?

    IMHO, much of the time, a dip gives the illusion that the lead is supporting the follow's weight, but, usually, he's supporting very little of it. The lady is supporting her own weight. BUT she can't support her own weight if you dip her so deeply/sharply/unexpectedly that you take her off her own balance.

    Also, I have fallen/gotten clunked on the head a couple times myself. It's really not the end of the world. In the times that has happened to me, it was usually because the lead was late or unclear, so I didn't know the dip was coming, so I stiffened and lost my balance, rather than going with it.

    Another thing, from the follow's perspective, is that dips are a trust thing. I need to be relatively sure that you're NOT going to clunk me on my head. So dips are not necessarily something I'd try with someone I'd never danced with before.

    And last thing I can think of right now is that verbal leads are leads. There's nothing wrong with saying, "I'm going to dip you." There's no shame in that. At least she'll know it's coming.

    Sorry I can't help more, as I am not a lead. But there are a couple guys here and in the salsa forum that should be able to help. Maybe they'll check in later today.

    Again. Welcome.
  3. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    You should never force the lady into a dip. Thus, if you haven't forced the lady into a dip, she should be on her own balance (it's her responsibility to be balanced). If you don't force a lady into a dip and she falls, it's her own fault.
    samina and Bailamosdance like this.
  4. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Step 1: speaking as a follower, please please pretty please for the love of god...stop trying to do dips until you have taken some good private lessons and have learned to do them safely and reliably with good technique! While dropping the girl is embarrassing to you (which I'm not minimizing), it can be outright dangerous to us--hurt backs, hurt necks, hurt heads, you name it. Don't go trying something like this if you don't know how to do it well.

    Step 2: what Pyg says is true--it is very much a trust thing. If you're not giving off dip-trustworthiness vibes, she's not going to want to go back when you try to lead it...which really just sets things up for failure all around. So, for example, if you can't lead basics competently, there's no way in hell I'd ever let you dip me. If you try it, and force it (because I'm not wanting to be dipped), you're setting things up for failure and injury.

    I'm sorry to be harsh. But, yes, I'm putting this entirely on you. You had better be damn sure your technique is correct before you try stuff like that, and having dropped multiple girls (and admitting that you even know you did things wrong) you've got the proof that your technique isn't up to snuff. And you're taking risks with our health. Period.

    Before you think I'm completely anti-dip, I'll just go ahead and say that I actually like them, when done well. I like ones where I'm supporting my own weight (the majority), but where the lead is guiding and steadying me. I like ones where I'm supporting some of my own weight. I don't mind drops where I'm not supporting diddly, but only with certain leaders. Each one of those takes more trust in the leader. And, yes, I've bumped my head before--I have a very flexible back, so it's not unheard of for me to bump it on the leader's leg or some such. I get it. But those aren't injurious.
    wooh and twnkltoz like this.
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yeah. I didn't want to hit ECBB over the head with it (so to speak,) but I remember hearing at least one horror story about a lady who sustained serious injury when she got dropped on her head on a concrete floor. I don't remember the details. It's been years.
  6. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    What Joe said.

    And don't think of initiating a dip outside of class until you are a strong, capable leader. If you are insecure and unable to keep a lady safe, you are nowhere near ready.
  7. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I will not agree wholeheartedly with what he's said. What he said is true, provided the guy knows how not to knock the girl off her balance. It's possible for her to be supporting her own weight, and balancing herself, but for the guy not to be where he needs to be, and/or to interfere with that balance, and cause her to fall.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Correct. The lady is responsible for her own balance, BUT, if the guy knocks you off balance and you end up on the floor. Uhh. He's got some 'shplainin to do.:D

    For example, I did a swing formation once with a really, really nice guy as a partner. 275 pounds? Maybe more. Not the world's best dancer, but really, really nice. When we got to the part of the routine where we did a dip, I felt like I was holding HIM up. He was so off balance that it took everything in me to keep mine.

    Good Lord! I'd forgotten all about that. Horrible formation, and I usually love formations.

    Anyway. What I was trying to get across with my first post is that, if dips don't work, it could be either person. But the ladies who have weighed in are also right. If you, as a lead, are not sure you can lead a dip safely, don't.
  9. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    the thing about guys who don't know how to offer a dip is that most of them don't know that they don't know how....most of them bend toward the lady and let their head come forward as well....they have no idea that,in so doing, they have now expected the lady to be over her own foot while all of their weight and head weight is also still moving in her direction...if you do not grasp the concept of counterbalance, do not offer any move like that
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Two things. One. I like the way you say, "offer a dip." That's cool. :) Two. Exactly. The way you described it is exactly how it can feel-- like the guy is falling on you instead of counterbalancing you. It's amazing how heavy head weight is, btw.

    IIRC, with the Heavy Formation Guy, it felt like he was bent over at the waist with his head forward. (He may have been; I was too busy trying to survive to analyze things at the time. :D) I felt every one of his 275 pounds.
  11. Again, as I said in my original post, I have neither the time nor the money for classes, so I really have no chances to practice other than social dances.
  12. As I said in the original post, the first lady was a complete stranger...the only way I knew her was that we took the lesson together at the beginning of the event. So yeah, that was probably a bad idea. But the second lady that I dropped two days ago was a familiar partner; I've danced with her several times before. Which is part of the reason I said the first time was probably her fault, and the second was mine.
  13. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Then don't lead them. Period.
    wooh likes this.
  14. You would be correct, fascination...I don't grasp the concept of counterbalance. Could you try to explain it to me? I remember the instructor who tried to teach me dips on Sunday said several times to stop leaning OVER her with my body and do more of a lunge.
  15. So basically, what you're telling me is to stop dancing altogether. Sorry, can't do that.
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    That is not the message at all. Dance to your heart's content. But be aware of the other people's safety. That is your responsibility as a lead. It's not all about trying out neat new figures you just learned. Your responsibility is to keep your partner safe and be aware of other dancers on the floor, and that goes for floorcraft, too, not just dips and lifts, etc. Your JOB is to protect your partners. If women feel like you're not doing that, they will stop dancing with you. Nobody wants to risk a concussion just because you covered something new in class tonight.
    wooh likes this.
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yeah. I'm sorry I missed that on the first read. (It was too late to edit my post when I saw that)

    Ever seen a commercial for (I think it's ) Oxycut, a weight loss supplement? I'll look for an image. In that picture, the lead and follow are dancing and perfectly counterbalanced. Her weight and his weight balance each other and hold each other up, kinda like when you were little and played that spinning game where, if anybody let go, everybody fell down.

    With dips, short answer. If she's leaning back and you're leaning over her, all the weight is going to one side. And she's going down, on the back of her head.
    East Coast Bluesboy likes this.
  18. Right...I agree with you wholeheartedly. You can tell me that I screwed up and not to do it again over and over again, but that's not helpful. I know what I did wrong, but what I want to know is how to do it RIGHT.
  19. Hmm...that makes sense. Simple physics, right? So are you saying that when I do a dip, I need to lean back a bit as well?
  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Read recently in the 1944 issues of the Los Angeles Times about a woman who was granted a fair amount of money in a court case because she had been injured by jitterbugs at the Hollywood Canteen.
    Oh, hi Bluesboy, welcome to DF.

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