General Dance Discussion > Lead/Follow Ratio at Dances

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by pygmalion, Oct 26, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Here's an observation. I'm wondering if anyone else has seen the same thing. At the ballroom dances I attend, it's very rare that there are enough men to go around. Usually, women have to sit out dances. At the salsa events I attend, it seems to be the other way around. (Not sure about swing. I don't do a lot of swing socially yet. )

    Case in point: Yesterday, at the Jesus Morales workshops, there weren't enough women. Last night, at the ballroom dance, there were at least two women for every guy. Tonight, I've been asked to help my salsa teacher by attending her beginner salsa classes to parter the guys -- not enough women again. (BTW -- peachexploration, are you going?)

    Am I imagining things? Or do others see the same thing? :?
  2. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    My observations....

    ballroom dances: followers>leaders,

    local contra: leaders > followers,

    contra dance with well known group, such as "Wild Asparagus" followers~leaders,

    latin: leaders> followers,

    swing (lindy) followers > leaders

    What about group classes?

    I just started a lindy class, and also for my beginner swing class a while back there were more leaders then follows; the exact opposite of the dance scene!
  3. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    In the more intermediate (vs. beg.) ballroom group classes I'm in there are way more leaders then followers :(
  4. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    Hi Pygmalion. Yes, I will be there tonight for both classes. I've been to quite a few classes and a couple of schools this year and have seen the same problem over and over again when it comes to Salsa. A respected Salsa Instructor has had this to say about learning in a group setting:

    In large group instruction settings, the scenario for neophyte dancers usually unfolds something like this: The men have no idea what the word "lead" means as they are absorbed in the more elementary task of ungluing their feet from the floor and sorting out which one is which. The ladies decide to lead themselves rather than standing around for eternity waiting for a lead that never comes. By the time the men start trying to lead the ladies, the ladies are in the habit of moving before they've felt the lead. Then the men start shoving and pushing the ladies so that they feel like their "leading" is producing some effects. Then the ladies complain that the men are too rough ...

    I've seen the above in action first hand and heard from many followers including myself. What usually happens is you start out with a good group in the beginning and then the number of followers start to dwindle and by the end of the session, all you end up with is mostly leaders in salsa class. Another reason it's difficult in a group setting is because alot of times you're switching partners which means once you get use to one person, you're asked to switch and you have to get used to another person altogether.

    This is only one scenario and I'm sure there are hundreds of reasons why this happens. This does not mean to minimize the man's/leader's role in any way. Leading is very hard work and it takes alot of practice before it becomes second nature. If you're a "Beginning Leader", I imagine it can be a bit overwhelming. There is so much to think about: Music, direction, moves, etc. A note to beginning followers is patience, patience, patience. I know it can be frustrating but wait for the lead, it will come.

    As a follower, a similar problem happened with me. I was having a terrible problem with giving up the lead, standing still (so to speak) and surrendering myself. :D I'm much better at it now because I've found an instructor that concentrates on leading/following, not learning choreography.

    On a happy note, I kinda liked having more men than women yesterday. Almost like we had the guys all to ourselves. :D :oops: :D :wink:
  5. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hey peachexploration!

    Yay! See you tonight. :D

    Believe it or not, this is why I like group classes. You learn to dance with all sorts of different guys, which increases the chance you're actually following, not just used to your partner and anticipating what he's going to do. *shrug* Just another perspective. What do you think?
  6. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    This only works if you're actually waiting for the lead Jenn... too many people take a class and, because they know what the pattern is, auto pilot it regardless of the lead follow dynamics involved with their given "partner."
  7. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    Here it's usually more follows then leads.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    So true, SD. That's why I said increases the chance. Some people dance whatever the teacher is calling out, regardless of what's being led.

    Some of the responsibility for this is with the teachers, too, though. There needs to be a way for them to incorporate lead/follow into their classes. Maybe allowing one or two freestyle practice sessions into the class -- where leaders actually have to lead, and followers follow? I don't know. But there's gotta be a better way.
  9. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    --note to self: learn salsa---
  10. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    --note to self: dance *tons* of salsa with Sk--
  11. danceguy

    danceguy New Member

    I've noticed at both dance class and the social dances (by the local schools)on the average there tends to be usually an equal number of leads and follows...usually with a few more followers most of the time. At my first dance ever, there were actually more leads, and I had to go through part of the lesson with a male partner...and I wasn't happy about that at all! :evil:

    In my Ballroom, Latin and Swing classes, it's been pretty equal though...but again, there always tends to be an extra follower or two.

    Funny story though. A few months back when I went to my first (and only so far) live Salsa event, I got all geared up to go and then chickened out when the lesson started on an outdoor dance floor (with about 500+ people watching!). The floor was PACKED..and as I finally got some courage to get closer...I noticed something very interesting...there was a huge lack of the point that there were many ladies dancing together.

    Suddenly I see this utterly gorgeous woman walk by...looking quite dissapointed for some reason. I started to get up...and noticed that she almost walked up to me...but then she sort of stood watching the lesson almost sadly, seemingly like she wanted to find a dance partner (read below how I learned she was doing exactly that!).

    Anyway, I continued to hide in the crowd of onlookers until I bumped into a friend who did some Salsa and I asked her to dance. We had danced a few numbers (if you can call what I was doing dancing!), and then I saw the woman I had seen earlier.

    Not only was this girl utterly breathtaking physically speaking (to me at least)...but she was the best dancer there by far...and there were some really great Salser/oas that were steaming up the dance floor. By the end of the concert she was up with one guy in the center of the floor doing some amazing solo shines...and I was could that lady dance...and you could see the music as she expressed it in her movements...she even outdanced the guy she was with who was trying like heck to match her pace...and while he was good...she almost seemed to be holding back for his sake.

    It was a lesson I'll never forget, which applies to all leads: If there's a shortage of men and a lady is trying to find a partner, GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND ASK HER TO DANCE! :)
  12. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    I think this is positive. :)

    You don’t end up with couples getting the routines fast, and couples never getting it.
    You help each other. And you get to know each other.

    Especially in the start, it’s easier to dance at the parties with somebody you recognise from class.
  13. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, and aside from the balancing factor Danish Guy's mentioning, it also means that when you are leading and following it's generalizable leading and following rather then just viable with one person's quirks.
  14. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    This is where I get nasty, and lead something completely different. :twisted:

    Do I get her attention and wake her up, sure :shock: :twisted:

    Then it’s possible to test the lead, and not only the footwork. :shock: :D
  15. Danish Guy

    Danish Guy New Member

    I have always done that. If there have been missing leaders at the beginner classes, I have joined whenever possible, so the ladies won't have to wait for the next "change partners" call.

    And it never hurt to repeat/rehearse the basics. 8)
  16. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    When I wrote:
    Another reason it's difficult in a group setting is because alot of times you're switching partners which means once you get use to one person, you're asked to switch and you have to get used to another person altogether.

    Sorry, I should have elaborated a little more. I didn't mean it was a bad thing to regularly switch partners. Alot of the time, you're pushed directly into learning patterns in Salsa. The men are told to lead it and women to follow and you hear 123, 567 and then you switch partners and if you didn't get it with the last partner, you and your new partner are both like "what the......" :lol:

    A way to remedy this is: Take Jesus' last session yesterday on musicality and styling. After that session, I saw alot of "Aha" :eek: reactions and Leaders/Followers were dancing much better and more playfully. (Even after switching partners) He talked specifically to the leaders briefly about rhythm and body movement and active listening to the music. To me, classes like this should be taught first. He said at the beginning of the workshop, "For every action (leader), there is a reaction (follower). Remember the slight turn of a followers hand that made their whole body turn?

    For a beginner, in a group setting where you're switching partners often, you're not taught how "feel" the other person/music right way so it makes it difficult for leaders and followers to relate to each other. Alot of times, you really don't get that until there's a styling class of some sort. So it may contribute to decreased class attendance because of frustration for both roles. Especially, if you don't have natural knack for rhythm. Just my opinion. :)
  17. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    I love when this happens! This happens to me all the time in class and it makes me a better follower. :D
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I see what you mean now, peachexploration. I think it's unfortunate how often people aren't taught to "feel" anything at all. Just execute the patterns.

    BTW, I thought the musicality class yesterday was hilarious, especially the part where people were asked to do the hip-hop arms. Hehe! Some people found it easier than others, to say the least. But I agree with you. By the end of class, people seemed to feel a lot more free to express their personalities and what the music was telling them.
  19. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    So a question for everybody - how did you learn to -feel- the lead/follow thing? How about the music? And how long had you been learning when it happened?

  20. will35

    will35 New Member

    I am not a teacher, so I just really don't understand much about dancing. But I think teachers sometimes exaggerate the difficulty of leading and following and it slows students down. My wife and I took a class once in a dance we had never even seen. The teacher danced with my wife for just a few seconds and then started to do moves that she had no idea how to do. The teacher was not surprised that she did every move perfectly. Everybody in the class thought she knew the dance. She didn't. How did it happen? It happened because leading and following are the most natural things on earth. The man moves. If the woman wants to dance with him, she goes, too. If he knows where he is going, she has no problem following him. Of course, that makes the man's part more difficult, and so many teachers don't like to accept that fact. That is why there are fewer men at the dances. It is a little harder for the man. They normally wimp out in the group classes when the women learn their parts more quickly.

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