When neither part is terribly skilled or Two ways of teaching beginners Maybe I take my mouth too full now. Oh well, it would not be the first time. Currently I take classes as a leader. The level I probably should have taken, as a follower, does not start until later so I thought OK: I take beginners classes and learn to lead. The classes I took before, at other places, were based on routines and patterns and made me terribly frustrated; nothing ever felt good. The course I am taking now suits me a lot better. We do simple moves, leading-following exercises, usually not long stretches of routines where the follow know what will happen next and so is encouraged to "cheat". We have done four classes and the moves we have done so far are: · Swingout from closed to open position · A simple pull-in to get back into closed position but not yet the full circle · Charleston · In a "changing partners after two swingouts"-routine, we did pimp walk (leaders) and boogie forward (followers) · A simple move called “mess around” where your feet stand still and you move your hips in a circle · A move that is similarly stationary, where you step with one foot back and forth – starting either backwards or forwards That is the complete list of moves for four classes! It's been lots of swingout... These last moves have probably not been chosen from the point of “what people use on the dance floor”, but to teach lead-follow skills. People always say that beginners want to learn many moves... but you know what? This class is happy about the material learned so far. I certainly would not have liked to have many more, leading these few moves early enough for the follow to understand what is happening is a big enough task... I am a lot more happy than in the previous classes I took. Now I feel like we are dancing! OK I have some more experience in lindy now than when I joined my first beginner’s class. That is of course another reason that I feel more happy about it. It is easier for me than for most of the other beginner leaders, who have not been dancing any lindy before this course. Still, I feel the difference in teaching methods is crucial. When I go out dancing and I meet these guys who are taught at other places, they would never dream of doing just a few moves like we do in class. Still, I feel dancing in my beginner’s class is a lot more real dancing than what I have done when I have tried to go dancing “for real”. IMHO the leaders I meet out there are "damaged" by the pedagogics of their teachers, or lack of pedagogics. I am pretty much a beginner, so most of the people I dance with will not be terribly experienced either. What happens when two rather inexperienced dancers meet, and the leader is focussed on steps at the expense of leading? It took me roughly 1 1/2 class of leading to realise that if the follow gets her steps mixed up, a good thing to do is to go back to really simple basics; then she will find her feet again and you are ready to try that a little bit more advanced move. However, as I mentioned previously I can not see that the leads I meet when I go out dancing do this to me when I get lost - maybe not to basic steps, but most of the times I think two or three swingouts will have me back on track. Maybe they have too much to think about, remembering and trying to execute all those steps they have learned. I feel... "Hey, where is your focus? It is most certainly not on me! so why on earth should I care about what you are trying to do?" Maybe they are more worried about what the spectators will think about the dancing, than about me enjoying it. Or, they simply have another opinion of what is fun than I do. Maybe someone tricked them into believing that the point of the dance is to do many moves. If the lead does not give me a clear enough lead so I simple feel where I should go, what should I do and what do I do? Well, somtimes it is really hard to tell a simple swingout from a circle, unless it is almost to late. If I was a teaching tool to this guy I probably should not try so hard to guess what he wants me to do. But I want it to work, I want him to like dancing with me - and he likes to do all those patterns that he can hardly lead me through... so what could I do? Parts of our problems are of course because of me. I do realise that. There are plenty of follower skills that I have not yet learned. It does not really matter who is the faulty part though - me, him, or most probably both... When we get into trouble, the guy starts asking me if I know this move, of that move. I feel hey, I’ll try to follow what you lead and if it works, fine... if not, well well we’d better try something else. But he does not think that way. In class I accept to cheat a little bit - in a pattern based class, that is. I have to. But in social dancing? If I start doing this, where will it lead? I once heard of a bunch of women talking about the men in their class. It was a beginner’s class, but all of them agreed that there was hardly one guy who “should be in this class”. Well it was a pure beginner’s class, so where should these men be if not there?!? These classes they were taking taught mostly moves. I interpret it like this: the leaders had little chance to pick up how to really lead all these moves, and so the follows were unhappy. When this is the case, then all the follows will want to dance with more advanced leaders instead of the other beginners. OK there still will be this issue of slower learning curve for the leaders but I believe that focussing on moves is a great way to enhance this problem. I do simply not understand the point of teaching pattern based classes to beginners! and I think that for the near future I will try and get the main part of my dancing with leaders taught in the same place that I now take classes. Hopefully, they are more able to lead the moves that they choose to do. It probably also means they will have a much smaller repertoire, but I have no objections at all to that. I much rather do something that is actually led, than trying to guess what the leader is trying to do. I am sorry for being a bit harsch on the leaders who try to do lots of moves and in doing that pretty much ignore me. I might be a pretty unusual beginner or near-beginner when it comes to what I like, I do not know, but really - if his opinions on what the point of dancing is so different from mine, I do not see much point in trying. And really, I do not blame these leaders. I blame their teacher’s teaching methods. I do not know if the other beginner leaders in my class would dare to go up on a public dance floor and try what little moves they know, but as long as the follow is equally inexperienced so I do not bore a more advanced dancer, I would. Maybe not for very many dances, but I would. Really, even if we make some pretty dull basic steps sometimes just to get back on track I do not think it would look worse than some of the people who try to do five times as many moves.