General Dance Discussion > Is social dancing really social? (young student)

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by EddyP, Jul 20, 2015.

  1. EddyP

    EddyP Member

    hello, I am quite new here, this is my first post and I wanted to discuss something related to social dancing

    I am fairly new to partner dance, having been a street dancer for awhile i wanted to explore other things, ive gotten lots of good experience so far but i now find myself at a loss..

    being a street dancer for so long cemented my idea of what dance is or should be, which was for people to share together, after all i do believe dance is initially a method of communication, for example a performer communicates to his or her audience, a leader and a follower communicate with eachother as well as a possible audience.

    coming in the social dance world I was excited to learn these steps and patterns which are intertwined with another persons steps n patterns. i thought to myself "ahh so this is social dancing" and i kept practicing and practicing

    started having a lot of people telling me how good i got and if i could teach them something, of course i didnt feel comfortable teaching as i still consider myself a beginner.

    I started researching online for anything i could find, history, videos, heck even older dancers facebook profiles, their studios, anything.

    for the record, Im not from a town where I can find millions of social dancers.

    and its SO HARD to find ANY information because i feel as if people just keep to themselves, Ive noticed theres a lot of EGO in social dancing, people trying to own moves and making sure their classes are not filmed. the idea of sharing is non-existent unless its for a friend, unless you are a part of the inner circle. but what do you have to do to be in the circle? I find it inexplicably sad that SOCIAL dancing is so anti-social. street dances are performed alone but are shared in circles, people give you energy and you feed from it, most street dancers dont claim to even TEACH, they simply claim to SHARE. why is this so absent from a world of dance calling itself social?

    I dont believe growth of community is possible if everyones just trying to own something, and make it a business, its very shady and counter productive

    sorry if i come across as rude or offending, im just trying to understand this new world i stepped into. is it wierd that I feel this way?
    JoeB likes this.
  2. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I think you may have a different definition of social dancing than do the forum inhabitants. At least this forum inhabitant.

    The focus of social dancing as I practice it is primarily on a good experience for both of the partners without interfering with the fun of other couples on the floor. If someone in the audience likes what they see, then great. Otherwise they don't have to look.

    And there's no sense of ownership of "moves".

    What exactly do you consider "social"?
    tancos and IndyLady like this.
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I started researching online for anything i could find, history, videos, heck even older dancers facebook profiles, their studios, anything.

    its SO HARD to find ANY information because i feel as if people just keep to themselves

    Seems too me there are many, many on line resources.

    most street dancers dont claim to even TEACH, they simply claim to SHARE. why is this so absent from a world of dance calling itself social?
    Because "sharing" with a partner is mostly thought of a criticizing them, and the vast majority of the community has learned that it's best not to share pointers.

    people just keep to themselves
    Maybe we're by and large modest?

    I dont believe growth of community is possible if everyones just trying to own something, and make it a business, its very shady and counter productive
    There are many many "communities" of dancers that have learned from people who charge money to give lessons, and charge people to show up at an event.

    What social dances have you learned?
  4. CaliChris10

    CaliChris10 Active Member

    EddyP Sometimes it just takes time. For sure social dancing is full of big egos, cliques etc...But you can get past it. Do you go out dancing alone? When I first started social dancing I kept to myself...none of the girls talked to me for about a year. No problem with the guys, which didn't help the girl situation...if looks could kill, woah! But now It is just awesome! Like a family!
  5. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

  6. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    I'm having a hard time reconciling these two statements. Who are these people who are telling you how good you are? Surely they aren't the same clique-ish people you are allegedly encountering at socials?

    Also, what kind of "socials" are you attending - ballroom, salsa, swing, tango, etc? There are some different nuances between the cultures of those various circles.
  7. Aggy

    Aggy New Member

    I perceive it the same way as snapdancer. "Social" in "social dancing" refers to enjoying doing something together (here dancing), a social experience. "social" does not refer to sharing knowledge/benefits freely.
    In context: dancing in the ballroom/studio originally was also the place where young people met in a controlled environment, and learned to interact with the other sexe in a 'respectful way' (whatever that meant). Loads of etiquette taught as well. A safe place for parents to send the kids to. Once upon a time.
    "social dancing" as practiced in studio's has long been institutionalized and commercialized.
    Indeed, the fine art of ballroom dancing is kept hidden quite well in difficult/expensive to open closets.
    You will have to follow courses, or even more expensive private lessons to have access to the finest technical advices.
    This in much contrast to streetdance, true streetdance. The street is free to access, no dues, no obligations, no rules. well...? however...?

    There's quite a difference between the two cultures: classical ballroom studio versus streetdance. Can easily understand your perception.
    Etiquette versus anti-establishment/independent types, I guess?
    The cultures follow their own set of rules and have different values. So moving from one into another place can be interesting.
    (I myself dance comps, but also 'socially' with my spouse: not the same person. I really have to switch a knob in my head, as pleasure in the former comes from the performance, in the latter from doing something together).

    Interesting to learn about your experiences then! And how you perceive :)
  8. EddyP

    EddyP Member

    I consider something social when it involves a community, a bulk of ppl, so in a sense I dont see dancing with my husband/spouse only to be very social, that would be intimate.

    how do couples learn from one another if there is no sharing, if its all just about you do your thing i do my thing and thats it.

    focus on the latin hustle

    the people asking me these questions are people who see me dance at events and wish to do the same, the thing is, hustle is having a resurgence in the street dance community at the moment but the values of the cultures seem to be clashing against one another. street dancers learn their crafts practically for free because its hours and hours of solo practice or with an OG who can tell you about whatever you are curious about, whereas ballroom dance or hustle, knowledge is kept behind closed doors with a big dollar sign on it.

    ive attended regular social nights and will dance at any event if the music is right.
  9. EddyP

    EddyP Member

    I can definately see how my view on the matter is different because of my background and its because of my background as a street dancer, where I can count the amount of money ive actually spent to LEARN the craft over a decade (which doesnt go over 500$ in TOTAL). in a tenth of that time ive spent that amount of money trying to learn partner dance.

    its impossible to deny the massive growth of street culture or street dance throughout the WORLD, yet all the young dancers still look at partner dance as a thing for older people, an older generation. why is that? i feel there are studio owners, "professional dancers" and straight up business owners keeping growth of your culture behind dollar signs. do we really think a 18 year old working a part time job will spend his entire weeks earnings to learn social dance?

    the answer is no he or she wont. where is the incentive to bring younger people into the fold in social dance??
  10. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    Let me give some of my perspective on a few of your points.

    I think that dancing only with one other person could be considered social dancing so long as your dancing fits in with others. But think that dancing with many others is more social.

    As far as free teaching, it is actually anti-social if it's conducted during a social dance and either is unsolicited or blocks the flow of traffic or otherwise interferes with the dancing of other couples.

    And myself, while I don't mind giving a tip or two if requested, during a social dance I'd rather be dancing than teaching.
    danceronice and IndyLady like this.
  11. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    You come from a very different world, so please try to approach this one with an open mind.

    Some thoughts for you in random order:

    You are walking into dance studios. Dance studios have a huge amount of overhead. Rent, insurance, the floor, music...the list goes on and on. There needs to be money coming in to pay for that. The people who teach there, in all likelihood, make their living (or at least part of it) doing so. It is not a fun hobby for them that they do in their free time. Therefore, they can't give their knowledge away for free or they would have no income. They spent a lot of money learning those steps; why should they give it away for free?

    There is a vast amount of information online. Stop looking for "social dancing" and look for "hustle."

    With street dancing, you can make up your own moves. You can do that to some extent in partner dancing, but it's way easier to do the syllabus because someone knowledgeable has already spent a ton of time working out the details to make sure it works well. These moves are not necessarily owned. Anyone can get a hold of a dance syllabus. But expecting people to teach you for free is not realistic. It's a different world.

    When you are dancing by yourself, you can do what you want. When you are dancing with a partner, everything you do affects them. Therefore, you need to follow certain rules so that you can work together as a team to the enjoyment of both parties. It takes time and effort to learn this.

    I'm glad you've stepped into the world of social dancing. I hope you open up your mind and find a way to take your place in it in such a way that makes you happy while working with those around you.
    raindance, danceronice, stash and 2 others like this.
  12. tancos

    tancos Active Member

    I completely agree with the points made here, especially by snapdancer and twnkltoz, but would like to clear up a few generalizations. There are many countries in the WORLD where partner dances are very social and embraced by young people. Here in the US some forms are very "social", Lindy and Salsa being good examples. What isn't social is competitive ballroom dancing, which is the forte of for-profit dance studios. Obviously the goal of competition is to be better that the other guys, which seldom leads to sharing. Group ballroom classes can be social events, but one person working with a pro in order to compete is not.
    twnkltoz and leee like this.
  13. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    What do you mean by "sharing"? The lead and follow of a couple have different roles/parts... I can't do the same thing my lead (or follow) is doing, I have lead/follow them. And it's considered poor etiquette (by most... some folks are oblivious or forgiving) to offer unsolicited advice or instruction to your partner while dancing. Telling your spouse what they are doing wrong or need to fix is one of the best ways to encourage your spouse to give up dancing with you. btw, this is from a ballroom perspective.

    Street events or social events? I'm still confused... are you and these people sitting on the sidelines at social events trying to figure out why the dancers on the floor aren't including you?

    snapdancer and twnkltoz are articulating this much better than I am, so I would second the thoughts they have expressed.
  14. leee

    leee Well-Known Member

    @EddyP, you might want to investigate Lindy Hop. It originated in the streets (more specifically, no one took classes to learn how to do it when it started in the '30s and '40s), and even though the current revival is oriented around the class/lesson system, it's a lot more free-wheeling than some other forms, not to mention one of the more affordable styles as well. What's more, Lindy Hop still allows for the street model of practicing solo for hours on end to improve and/or inject their own panache into their dance.
  15. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Another thing to consider is your approach. If you walk up to a complete stranger and ask them to teach you for free (taking time away from their own social dancing, which they paid money to be there to do), that is quite off-putting. On the other hand, if you make some friends and try to be a part of the community, pay your dues, people will likely help you.
    IndyLady likes this.
  16. EddyP

    EddyP Member

    thanks for the reply, I have found almost everything available online pertaining to hustle and started to look in other types of social dance to see if the same applied.

    i understand there are patterns to be respected in social dancing otherwise it would be impossible to switch partners, i cant just know a few tricks only a specific follower or leader can understand. what i mean is that even if i am experimenting with moves, trying to figure new things, i often get heat because its either "someone elses pattern" or "we dont usually do that in this dance". then i wonder how can the dance evolve. (also.. i am not part of the new wave of "newstyle hustle" circulating around right now.)

    im also not saying people should teach for free. I am a dancer myself and I never teach for free in a classroom setting, but when im dancing at an event and people around me are salivating to learn a step or two Im not going to ask for 5 bucks. i might recommend them to a spot and show them some basics but by no means am i "teaching" anything, i look at it as sharing.

    to teach means you have a certain authority over students, do you go to clubs (because thats where most young ppl dance nowadays) and assert authority over everyone else? no that would be wierd.

    the last thing youd want to do if you truly believe in the growth of a community is to alienate the younger audience. because they will be the ones to take up the torch later.

    any dance was created by kids, teens, or young adults who simply tried new things, nowadays i feel like the older generation have lost that touch of accepting the fact that young ppl will always want to explore new things and not necessarily stick to a strict syllabus, its the way of the world how the youth always "rebels" in some way and i think its okay, i feel there is a lack of general acceptance of that idea though.

    i hope im not going too far with this
  17. EddyP

    EddyP Member

    yes I have looked into lindy hop as well and i find the crowd to be a lot younger in this type of dance, i love the freedom they have as they dance and their events are always wild, i wish other dances would learn from that actually.
  18. EddyP

    EddyP Member

    on another note I know i am kind of the alien in the forum right now but id like for you guys to consider the fact that taking lessons in a studio is expensive, it also takes a lot of time and energy, a lot of the time the only people who can afford the first are ppl who are settled down with job security and little leisure time, but they lack the energy.

    whereas young ppl from 15 to 25 yrs old do not have the money to spend on it but would love to learn the craft, out of any other group in society they have the most time and energy yet are barred from the studio because of the money problem.

    and ultimately thats my argument on stopping the growth of a community, when you are young you are looking for your niche, so young ppl try many different things but if that thing is too expensive you can forget they will ever step foot in a studio filled with middle aged ppl who do NOT have the same energy as them.

    sorry i dont mean to bash any age groups im just trying to make a general argument :p
    (and thanks to everyone who contributed to the thread so far I find it very insightful)
  19. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    This is all more ballroom-focused than hustle, but my local studio has a pretty good turnout from the younger crowd. The high-school aged folks are pretty much all paid for by their parents. I'm not sure I see a way around that. If they're old enough to legally hold a job, talented high schoolers might get tabbed for instructor training, but the studios have to get something out of offering them instruction. Again, we're talking about people's livelihoods here.

    However, once we get into the college-aged crowds, university-based teams become a factor. Not every university has them, of course, but I get the sense they're far more the sort of community that you're really looking for.
    raindance and IndyLady like this.
  20. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    Have you read any of the other threads on this forum? Most of the posters here are acutely aware of this paradigm and it has been extensively discussed and referenced in numerous threads.

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