General Dance Discussion > Machismo and Leading

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Albanaich, Mar 15, 2009.

  1. Slowly I Turn

    Slowly I Turn New Member

    We take dance with a number of other married couples and our instructor gathered the leads together and quietly insisted we do this as a test. One of the fellows asked if he could have a ride home.
  2. reb

    reb Active Member

    @ j alexandra

    Love your avatar - we have a similar picture on the wall at the top of our cat's 3-story climber (we bought the picture from a vendor at Central Park . . . maybe ours is not an original ;))
  3. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

  4. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    But I've got all this wood here! Oh, look, there's some gunpowder... ;)
  5. jwlinson

    jwlinson Member

    Has anyone heard the phrase, "To be a good leader, first be a good follower"?

    As an exercise, swap roles. Let the lady lead, and the guy follow. Guys, dance with an experienced male leader, ladies, dance with an experienced female follower.

    Guys, can you allow yourselves to be led, and resist the urge to anticipate the leader and backlead? Ladies, can you clearly lead the figure in a manner that communicates your request to the follower? These are both common complaints from the guys and ladies about the people they dance with.

    Ladies say guys don't lead properly. Guys say ladies don't follow, and try to backlead. Switch roles, get new viewpoints, then use that feedback to evaluate yourselves.

    The partner and I do this often. And yes I do try to backlead, and sometimes she says I'm not following what she thinks was a very clear lead. We've discovered each person's part of the dance partnership is equally hard. We use this feedback to improve our own lead/follow skills.
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    i haven't done much of this yet but I am certain it would be horribly difficult...I have enough trouble with the concept when i am the one moving forward in standard
  7. dancelvr

    dancelvr Well-Known Member

    It has been IME. My AT instructor has stated that if you accept an invitation to dance, it's an agreement to follow where he leads to the best of your ability. The one exception to this is any move that would take both of the follow's feet off the floor.

    This makes sense to me. :)
  8. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Taught a great w/s yesterday that deverted to spending a lot of attention to lead/follow. (Great b/c the students said that it was interesting and enlightening :rolleyes: ). the point is that I finally got the guys to realize the importance of the correct way to lead, and that a good 75% of it is follow.

    And, Dancelvr, the avatar. There's no place like home...there's no place like....
  9. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    My husband/partner and I swap roles a lot. It's made us both a lot more tolerant of those doing their best in our opposite roles, and a lot more sensitive to what makes it harder for the person in the other role.
  10. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    light lead/follow in a group class

    One of the more interesting things about taking a group class -- one in which the dancers are all experienced and knowledgeable -- is that it gives me the opportunity to follow several different leads through a pattern. Last night's class was an object lesson in playing Follow the Leader. We have two gents who are feather-light, one who is medium-light but unsure and awkward, one solid but frightened, one confident and fantastically strong yet didn't know the pattern, and the teacher, who is of course godlike in his abilities. :wink:

    To do a foxtrot pattern with each of these, one after the other, and feel the difference in the light leads as they get more confident is exhilarating. However, (my bad) I found myself backleading the light leads until I stopped myself. I'm so ashamed.:oops: It wasn't that I couldn't follow them, it was that they didn't know the pattern and I did. So I was "helping." I've spent a couple of years learning to follow no matter what, and thought I'd killed the backleading beast. And here it was. I obviously still have more work to do on "following no matter what."

    My point, really, FWIW: to have a lead who is just barely touching me, and still I know where he wants me to go and wants me to do, is delightful. Machismo, it ain't. The strongest lead in the room is indeed a machismo lead -- he's a retired Federal law enforcement agent -- but the best lead, he is not. I never try to backlead the tough guy. He runs right over me, and I follow along, blithely doing whatever he wants, whether it's the pattern being taught or not. So maybe there's something to be said for tough lead.

    On second thought, fugeddaboudit.
  11. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Machismo is NOT about strength, its about getting the girl to do you want with the minimum amount of effort, whether that is on the dance floor or the bedroom, what is often portrayed as 'Machismo' is an expression cultural attitudes that N Europeans to Southern Europeans.

    If a man has 'Machismo' a girl wouldn't even consider backleading - however light the lead.

    It's that instant reaction 'this guy is hot' - on the dance floor or off it.

    Wieght and strenght are not skill, a rapier (epee) (think Romeo and Juliet) kills whether it is handled lightly or heavily.

    What matters is precison and confidence in a sword fight - so it is in dancing and the bedroom
  12. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    You've said a mouthful, here. Weight and strength are definitely not skill, yet dance is at least partially weight and strength management. Precision and confidence: they're everything in the lead.

    If P&C are how you're defining machismo, then yes, the machismo lead is the good one. However, I think most people would give a different definition. <pausetogoogle> I have not yet run into a definition of "machismo" that did not include an exaggerated sense of masculinity, and I checked 15 sources. Are you sure machismo is the word you want to use? Let me rephrase that, since you obviously want to use that word. As was said in the movie, "I don't think that word means what you think it means."

    Not to mention that precision and confidence are useful in following, too. What's that got to do with machismo?

    And not for nothin', but a truly, deeply dedicated backleader will backlead absolutely anybody.
  13. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Machismo has a cultural context. . . . what is an exagerrated sense of masculinity in Northern Europe is considered normal in Southern Italy or South America.


    The sense of pride and confidence in your skill that wins duels on the fencing piste is the same 'Machismo' that makes you a desirable lead.

    Machismo (in its latin sense) is not about strength or crudity, but about personal prescence.

    If you are a beginner lead, you have to get it into your head that you need to lead, an attidue that it is necessary to 'negoitate' the lead and follow roles will make learning the whole leading process a lot more difficult.

    As for backleading - its similar to training a dog to walk to heal. Firm but gentle, but also abrupt when they try to do their own thing. Done with 'Machismo' you can have your follower apologising every 2 minutes 'I'm sorry I was backleading again'
  14. Wolfgang

    Wolfgang Member

    Some ladies will indeed try to backlead (or armwrestle...) no matter what.

    Weight and strength....
    This is kind of hard to describe without giving the wrong impression, but they do come into play sometimes, especially if the lady brings, umh, more to the table than the guy.
    In such cases all those pretty words they use at the dance studio to circumscribe what leading is supposed to be all about go out the window and you push and pull for all you're worth.
  15. jwlinson

    jwlinson Member

    OK, I'm confused here... Are you saying that machismo, by your definition, is a good thing or a bad one?

    You originally said

    Which I would take that you mean "machismo" is the stereotypical alpha male jerk, which most of us agree is a bad thing. But then you say

    So we're talking about a guy who likes to bully women, and who likes to prove his masculinity to the point that only brute force will stop him, but yet it's not about strength?

    I'm confused, and as someone posted before, I'm not sure "machismo" is the proper word for the idea you're attempting to convey. If you mean "confidence in one's actions and presence" then I can agree with that. If you mean "chauvinistic brute" then I cannot agree.
  16. WaltzElf

    WaltzElf New Member

    Apparently latin american men are not very nice people, if the way they treat women according to our friend here is anything to go by.

    Personally I think any man who doesn't dance like a gentleman is doing it incorrectly. And I do mean "gentleman" by the dictionary term, here (just to clarify since we're making up a lot of definitions to words in this thread - I'd prefer if we left that to the good folks at Oxford, thanks).
  17. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Machismo is neither a good thing or a bad thing, its a cultural construct that anyone familiar with latin American or Southern European culture understands.

    Men are expected to act in a confident, masculine way that is inappropriate in Northern European culture.

    The original post asked the question whether the person who was displaying all this inappropriate 'Machismo' understand the social rules of the society they were in, and equally, whether the other people in the group understood understood the context of his behaviour. . . .

    In a society where 'Machismo' is an accepted social behaviour, there are checks and balances to keep it under control. The other men would quickly put a stop to inappropriate behaviour.

    The Alpha male is not necessarially the most overtly masculine member of a social group - he is the one with the most breeding opportunites, on the dance floor that equates to the guy who has the maximum choice of partners.

    Lets not confuse the display of masculinity, with the most succesfully masculine male.

    Machismo is the right word - you just have to understand the cultural context.
  18. WaltzElf

    WaltzElf New Member

    I strongly dispute all of this. Firstly, masculinity and machismo are entirely different - gentlemanly behaviour is masculine.

    Beyond that, the dictionary definition of machismo is that it is completely inappropriate behaviour for the dance floor. Masculinity is required, yes, but gentlemanly masculinity, not machimiso, "cultural context" (which I don't believe) or otherwise.
  19. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    You can dispute it as much as you like, its doesn't stop my Southern Italian dance partner saying she likes 'Machismo' in a partner . . . .

    How you see it is different from how someone else from a different culture see's it.

    You're doing the (quintiessentially American) thing of assuming that everyone must accept your cultural values.

    If you don't understand that "machismo' has a specific cultural context then you don't understand what I'm talking about.
  20. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    Ironic considering waltzelf is Australian.:rolleyes:

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