General Dance Discussion > Rotating partners- is this a problem for some of you married men?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by wiseman, Jul 16, 2010.

  1. wiseman

    wiseman New Member

    In group dance classes, they require women to rotate partners mainly because of the shortage of men in these classes. For my dad, this is a big problem and one of the main reasons why he doesn’t want to learn dancing. He’s ok with learning to dance with my mom, but with other women, he doesn’t want to. Because he’s married, dancing with other women doesn’t feel right to him and he feels that it may get him into trouble (ex: a woman may try flirting with him or something). For a singly guy like myself, this is not a problem, obviously. But with all of you married men out there, is this an issue for you? Or is it only my dad who is feeling this way? If it is a common issue, then what do you do about it?
  2. davedove

    davedove Well-Known Member

    Does your dad want to flirt with all these women? If he doesn't, why does he think they will want to flirt with him? (If he does, that's a whole different issue.)

    This is a dance class, not a meat market pick up bar. While sometimes people do meet at dance class, that's not really a big concern. The people are there to learn to dance.
  3. kckc

    kckc Active Member

    well, I'm not a man, but I'll reply anyway :) Are you sure he is worried about the women, or does he not want anyone else to see his dance skills (or lack thereof)? Or a combination of both? I've never been to a group class that absolutely requires rotation, they usually put the non-rotating couples at the end of the room, but the instructors do highly recommend it, as you will learn more with different partners. Not saying good or bad one way or the other. Some people just aren't comfortable dancing with others, or they just adore their partner :)
  4. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Usually a combination of both - they may have specifically started lessons as a "couples" togetherness activity so they have no interest in dancing with others. It can be hard to convince those folks of the value of rotating partners.

    My first partner dance lessons were salsa classes that I took with my boyfriend (at the time). We rotated partners in that class, and although there were no issues with jealousy or flirting, it just felt odd and awkward. The instructor didn't really explain why we were rotating. I think the instructor needs to explain these things to a newbie class. Otherwise, how are people supposed to know?
  5. wiseman

    wiseman New Member

    You’d be surprised. I don’t know what it is, but women seem to ALWAYS want attention from my dad. And when my dad does the wrong thing like saying “hi” to them when they greet him, my mom freaks out on him. There’s something definitely not right about it. I don’t understand why it keeps happening. It’s like everywhere he goes, there’s some woman that tries to get his attention and it annoys my mom to no end. I don’t know what it is. It could be that the women are just trying to be friendly and my mom just overreacts because she's jealous. That's my guess. Who knows!
  6. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Well, it's hardly over the top for a woman just to say "hi". Of course, I'm not there in the class with your dad, so I don't know what is actually happening.

    I do know that when I rotate partners in my classes, I say hi and smile with all the guys, married or not. I think it would be pretty weird to walk up to the next partner in the rotation and present them with a frown or a stone face, wouldn't it? I'm not flirting, just being sociable in a normal way. Other people in my classes do the same thing.

    Group classes and dances are, by nature, a social activity. I consider it similar to playing doubles tennis, playing bridge, going to a cocktail party, etc. in terms of the social interaction. But I don't know if your mom sees it that way. If she is that uncomfortable, maybe it would be best if the two of them take private lessons, and then attend dances where they only dance as a couple.
  7. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    Saying hi is the wrong thing? Sounds like there's some serious jealousy issues on your mom's part.
  8. wiseman

    wiseman New Member

    I agree. But my dad has gotten into some serious trouble in the past by saying "hi" and being friendly to other women. This was not in dancing, though. It was actually at work and once at church, lol. So, I can't say I blame her.

    Don't know why it happens though. Is my mom jealous? Does my dad have little self control? Are women interested my dad because he's older and has a stable job? Could be a combination of all three? Heh!
  9. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    I just don't see why simply saying "hi" and engaging in harmless small talk is a problem. Nothing to be jealous about, if that's all it is. But your parents' relationship is none of my business and not for me to judge. As said before, they could always choose to take private dance lessons.
  10. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I know what your dad is feeling, being in a similar position. Men are scarce. Even an ogrish guy like me is in demand to dance. Right or wrong, dancing to me still feels like courtship. Standard and smooth are about two people moving as one. I only want to be one with my wife. I understand about dancing with multiple partners to improve your dancing, and I know there is nothing other than platonic friendship and desire to dance going on with *most* of the women I dance with besides my wife. But that is rational, and the underlying discomfort is not.

    A middle aged and older man is in demand just because of numbers.
  11. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    And if they only want to dance with each other, there may really be no value in rotating partners. Most of the group classes I've taken, if a couple doesn't want to rotate, they can just stand a bit outside the rotation.
  12. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Of course...but how long have you been dancing? Usually after some weeks or months, you get comfortable with the idea of dancing with various partners and not feeling as if it's courtship.

    I once had a dance teacher explain to me that when people see a pair of dancers, it should be like seeing a visual expression of the music. So when you dance with someone, it's not just "the two of you", it's you, your partner, and the song, like a partnership of three. Granted, there are some dance routines that require portraying a romantic connection, but remember "portraying" is the key...not necessarily having real feelings that way for the other person. It's just like acting in a play; just pretend.
  13. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    This has always been an odd one to me. Personally, it's a big non-issue and yet it's a big issue to some beginners. I understand that it's an issue for them, but I just don't really understand why.

    I think that for a lot of couples, learning to dance is a couples activity. I think the general public tends to have a skewed perception of dancing -- on the extreme end that a woman who says she's a dancer means that she uses a pole or that a man who dances is gay or, of course, it's just for maneuvering through meat markets. Of course those are extreme views and most probably almost solely male, but they can still lurk in the backs on much more temperate men just starting out. The guy is going in not knowing what's happening or what's going to happen and likely fearing the worst.

    Fear of flirting and how to deal with that probably depends on how the married man normally deals with it. If he normally doesn't have social interaction with other women, then the social interaction in dance class could be confusing and potentially threatening. During my marriage, I would just blind myself to any possible flirting signals (even though there were none) and simply carried that practice over into dancing; if ever something were to happen that could be construed as flirting, then I'd just realize that couldn't possibly be -- still works.

    I've also noticed a religious component. Some (or most) conservative Christian churches have serious problems with the concept of dancing ([joke=standard]Why do Baptists ban having sex while standing? Because they're afraid it might lead to dancing.[/joke]). Ironically, a nationally known local megachurch (let's call it "SB") has a large singles ministry (about 15,000 strong, with many in their 40's and 50's, a growing segment of the divorced population). Both they and another local megachurch with a large singles ministry employ dancing as a wholesome social activity and also offer dance classes. At the same time, the higher ranking pastors at SB have serious misgivings about dancing (one of my friends who organized the dance classes had to go toe-to-toe with them more than once and had even been threatened with expulsion). In a religious forum, I've read very vitriolic attacks against SB's head pastor for allowing dancing in his church. One funny thing that happened was SB's serious of weekly country dances. They only wanted line dancing to take place, not couples dancing, because the leadership was horrified at the thought that a married member might possibly with someone else's spouse, or even -- horror! -- with a single person. Of course, those people doing all that worrying never showed up to those dances, so they just had a regular country dance with both line and partner dancing.

    I mention the religious component, because a friend at work is of that faith (actually, he's in a church that SB members view as too fundamentalist) and he and his wife once started dance classes, but refused to rotate and he was very distressed at the thought of dancing with anyone else.

    Similarly, my wife was the only person I wanted to go out dancing with, but I had no problem rotating in class. To begin with, because of her work schedule I started the first class a couple months before she did, so I was immediately thrown into rotating. After she joined the classes, we continued rotating because that's just how it was done; it was several months before we even heard of any couple refusing to rotate. Then when she'd quit a class, I'd continue, knowing that I needed all the help I could get to be ready for whenever she'd return. It wasn't until a full year of Lindy classes that I started attending social dances, only because it was absolutely necessary for my training (that's where you really learn lead-and-follow and floorcraft).

    More recently, I've come across another kind of case for not rotating. In certain Lindy classes, my friend has insisted that we do not rotate. This is because in most classes I'm one of the few guys who knows what I'm doing and have a fair idea how to lead it. She doesn't want to waste any of her time in those classes with guys who don't know what they're doing (including the rough ones still trying to use their muscles instead of leading).

    In some cases, the teacher will specify no rotating and require students to have partners that they stay with for the entire class. These would be the more demanding ballroom dances and special classes such as ballroom lifts, Lindy aerials, and the salsa equivalents.

    I'm sure that there have been threads here on the pro's and con's of rotating/not-rotating. One thing I've noticed is that couples who don't rotate are most commonly rank beginners and they very rarely make it past the first series of classes. Neither of them knows what they're doing nor what they're supposed to be trying to do, so they just struggle and get increasingly frustrated until one of them just quits, which means they both quit. If only she had the chance to feel a lead so that she could better explain to her husband what she needs to feel from him. If only he could get feedback from more experienced followers as to what a lead needs to feel like -- call it a mini-peer-private, if you'd like.

    Yeah, the question as to why some couples don't want to rotate can be complex. And it can have an enormous effect on their dancing careers.
  14. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I have been dancing for ten years, american style, international, and club dances. I met my wife dancing. And what I know in my head, and my wife knows in her head, do not cancel out feelings that come from a wider context than dancing. I deal with it. I rotate, I ask other women to dance at socials. But I still have that feeling, and I don't know that I want it to go away.
  15. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    That explains a lot. Seeing as you met your wife dancing, then obviously you associate that with courtship. So I can understand where you're coming from. Still, your relationship happened not simply because you danced with each other. It's because you met and connected with that specific person. Dancing was really just the venue. Presumably you would have been just as attracted to each other if your first meeting was at work, at school, at a party, or whatever.

    This, this and this! I wish dance teachers would say these words to a beginner class. (though I guess with the caveat that many or most beginner classes don't have any experienced people, and then it's the blind leading the blind anyway - in those cases you're probably better off taking privates).
  16. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    As a veteran of 28 years, I can assure you that that last phrase echos a major concern for married men: how to avoid her getting mad at me ... yet again.

    Your mother's jealousy adds an extra wrinkle to the problem. If the minor social interactions in dancing will get her mad at him, then of course self-preservation will kick in and he will want to avoid that situation. The question that this raises in my mind, though, is: Whose idea was it to learn dancing? His or hers? In my case, it was my idea, as something for us to be able to do together.

    Also, as was pointed out, dancing is a social activity and even a community activity. As you learn more dances and go to more dance venues and classes in other studios, you will see a lot of the same faces showing up in different places. You will find that there is a dance community in your area. And as you become part of that dance community, you will meet more people and you will be expected to dance with other people. That's just being sociable.

    Likewise, as your parents would start dancing, they would start to become part of the dance community. Rotating in class would help them become more comfortable with being a part of that community.
  17. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I just find this one funny. Why is it some men think we want to flirt with them? We just want to dance and then go home.
  18. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Another good point, and one that I wish would be communicated somehow to beginners. When I started partner dancing with my boyfriend, it never occurred to us that there was a "dance community" of regulars who get to know each other as friends. Non-dancers don't normally see or frequent those regular dance venues in the course of daily life. The only dance-related events they know about are in clubs (where dancing with strangers is assumed to be a pickup activity) or formal social events such as weddings.

    It really doesn't occur to the average person that dancing could be like a bowling or darts league, where you hang out in the same places every week and make friends with a group of people. When I explain it that way to my non-dancing friends, it makes perfect sense to them, but they didn't know it otherwise.
  19. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    may be your dad and mom should consider private lessons, and make sure that the teacher in not female or the female that your mom is comfortable with. this way both of them can enjoy their time together and learn dancing
  20. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    I think I have heard teachers touch on it, though certainly not enough -- there's a lot of other things the teacher needs to present to beginners, whom he doesn't want to overwhelm.

    However, beginner classes aren't always devoid of more experienced people. Some are starting this new dance after having learned and practiced others, in which case they've already learned how to lead or to follow. More experienced dancers, especially intermediate or beginner/intermediate, find it beneficial to go back and work on the basics. A number of beginning classes are followed by the intermediate class, so some intermediate students will join the beginning class to warm up, review, or just to help out -- my Lindy teacher has long had a policy of letting you retake the beginning class for free as long as you're signed up for another class as well, while other teachers have asked intermediate students to join in, especially in order to balance out the class.

    I'm also reminded of the story of an imposter who said that the easiest profession to fake was college professor; he just had to read a few chapters ahead of the class. To a rank beginner, another beginner who had only been through the series once before would be "more experienced".

    Of course, there's also the common courtesy of not trying to teach another student during class. At the most, I may ask for more connection, or in closed position reposition her left hand from behind my shoulder explaining that it will get trapped back there, or ask that she not "help me" in switching hands (a big issue in salsa and in country two-step).

    Now, I'm something of a special case in that in the decade that I've been dancing, I've only done group classes with virtually no privates (only about a half-dozen privates with one ballroom teacher, only because he strictly required it for his advanced group classes and that was after 7 or 8 years of dancing). Because of previous decades of brainwashing, it took me 3 or 4 years before I realized that I could actually learn to dance; before that point, privates would have been a total waste because I "knew" I could never possibly learn to dance. I was just lucky have entered that very first class already knowing how to lead, thanks to previous martial arts training (Aikido; I still "use the Force").

    But most rank beginners (meaning that it's their first dance) should take privates to help them get started, especially in leading and following. It is possible for them to do it through group classes, but they will progress faster and with less frustration with privates. For the benefit of others reading this, as I had been taught the idea is to learn the steps in group class and to iron out the problems and to improve technique in the privates.

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