Swing Discussion Boards > Why do people critique and boss me in West Coast?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by Me, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    It might be associated with specific communities? Most of the westies around me are pretty nice and encouraging. Our tango world is a pretty closed community and a lot of the really advanced ballroom dancers don't bother mingling with mortals. Other than that, everyone just goes and has fun.
  2. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    Steve, I really think I should look up some of that Skippy Blair stuff, even though I'm not a westie.

    When it comes to classes, learning moves can be fun, and inspirational. The best classes are when the moves at the same times are demonstrating some technique. And learning this technique can be used in other places too, and thus opens up new possibilities in the dance in general.

    Just teaching technique can seem boring. And I understand well teachers who feel that they need to throw in some fancy patterns to make a fun class.

    But when they do, they should know and be able to teach the mechanics to anyone asking.
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Just to make it easy...

    She's had about 55 years to work on this stuff, think about it, get feed back, see what works, etc. And, this doesn't count the time before she decided to teach. (She danced as a youngster, too.)

    I've been able to find two, three, four? of her books in libraries. There are tapes, dvds, etc., which, at least here in the states can be viewed through library loans. (I am SO glad I never voted against library taxes even through I didn't use them for decades.) It's great that she gave permission to have that stuff available on line.

    And she's still teaching!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2017
  4. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    And when at a dance isn't this what it's all about? It's social dancing and that's the point so why be so picky and sweat what's "right" or "not right". Just have a good time; that's what matters.
  5. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    one would assume...
  6. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    I'm reminded of last Saturday when I was at a USADance party and one of the people I know who is a Lindy dancer branched out to WCS came by. Now, this is not meant as a snub towards Lindy dancers, but he tells me of this newer local group who has been making comments about going to the local WCS club and teaching them how to dance correctly. When he heard this he explained to them they have no idea what they are talking about, guess this is a group that doesn't want to realize that WCS is a different dance from what they are doing and of course taught differently.
  7. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    I found Skippy Blair online when I was first starting to dance, and she's Definitely one of my dance gods. She has *great* info and a wonderful way of looking at it, and she's so sane, and she's so musical. And so much of what she teaches translates to other partner dance disciplines, it's well worth taking a look at her site.

    WCS started me dancing, but I was so put off by the very attitude I'm reading from Me, Larinda et al, that I dropped it altogether. Incredible but true: the ballroom leaders at socials who blame me for every error -- out loud, not just with body language -- aren't as rude as the wcs leaders.

    BTW, it's not that ballroom people "come down from on high" and condescend to do wcs. Many of us like it a lot. But if the wcs culture is annoying Larinda (a shining example of sanity and good humor, and, I'm told, a wicked good follower) then hey, I'll sit it out.

    FWIW, I'm glad to find it wasn't just me. I've felt like a westie failure for years; now I know it's part of the culture.
  8. blink

    blink New Member

    Not sure if this is exactly true but it certainly made me laugh!! There must be some truth to it then, huh!

    I really don't think it has anything to do with connection, level or anything dance related. Really. I live in LA and spent a lot of time at Skippy's old dance studio, used to see and say hi to her all the time. Been to many of the classic WCS dance spots, plus some of the traditional weekend events-actually for years. Blah, blah, blah.....you know the story, I dance it.

    Again, all dances have their issues BUT there is something about being spoken down to during a social dance that really grates. Especially if I know I have a decent understanding of the lead and follow in the dance. And if I have the feeling that the lead really is off in his remarks.

    My problem is that I always consider someone else' remarks and ponder whether they are right or not. A good thing I think in most cases. But this is ridiculous.

    I went to one event where I was getting some of this weird feedback and was feeling a bit down. Then a pro came up and asked me to dance. He was like, WTH, why aren't you dancing more, your great. I didn't tell him that I was feakin sick of the leads gibber jabber. I just smiled and said thank you and left.

    Maybe in LA people have a tendency to think that they are all that and a bag of chips. So they decide to spread their special dance gift to all, even while social dancing. I LOVE LA and all the GREAT dancing here. Maybe it is just sometimes people like to dabble with hubris here too.
  9. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    This is so funny, given how WCS enthusiasts stereotypically like to claim that they can lead untrained dancers into anything...

    ...but I guess those aren't the guys at the dances you've been visiting.
  10. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Hang on a moment -- does the stereotype specify *HOW* they claim to be able to lead untrained dancers into anything?

    I'm kidding of course, and I do not mean to lend credence to a stereotype. My jaw dropped at some of the stories I've seen in this thread, though.
  11. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    mocking and deriding is leading?
  12. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Well, if that's how a leader attempts to lead, then in the mind of that leader the answer is, "yes."

    If you were to ask me if I thought that leader were correct in his understanding, I would say, "no."
  13. Good question... everytime I go out social dancing (WCS), I am on the receiving end of "chatter"! Recently, I was even *quizzed*! "What pattern did I just lead? Ok, now what was that one?" Oh my!

    While I try to be philosophical about it, sometimes the commentary makes me so irritated.

    My partner, a leader, says he rarely gets any commentary from a follower- except for "thank you!" or "that was fun" or "that was great". I know he doesn't have a running commentary because I have to DRAG feedback out of him during our practices, LOL!

    I know I don't suck that much, to deserve all that commentary! Even our big name WCS instructor doesn't give me that much negative feedback!

    Now, hopefully this post will actually post, and not get chewed up by the computer....
  14. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    fwiw, I've found the salsa scene in NJ to be far more critical than anything I've yet experienced from the NJ/NY WCies...have yet to experience more collective, corrective arrogance than from certain sects in that community. but mebbe I just haven't done enuf WCS...

    anyway, I tend to take commentary while dancing in stride, generally speaking. I figure there's always something to learn...doesn't really bother me.
  15. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    I believe the probleme to be somewhat like in AT. Both of these dances are largely improvisational. This means that when something doesn't work, one partner immediately blames the other b/c there aren't any steps, patterns, etc. to blame. And, of course, it can't possible be me, therefore I begin immediately telling you what to do to make it feel good to me. Probleme is that it's going to feel differently to the next guy, so the cycle begins again.

    Of course, the real probleme is that none of these persons know what dancing is. If they did, they wouldn't be able to nag; they would be too busy feeling good.
  16. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    One step at a time?

    OK, standard disclaimer applies, right? I've been watching this from the inside.

    The attitude doesn't appear to me to be venue specific - I've seen it often enough that I would expect to notice something weird if it wasn't there (sort of like when the heater switches off).

    My main guess has been that it stems from the lore that westie is a learned dance - partners aren't matching, most of the dance is done in open position, and its obscure enough that you almost never find someone that you don't know who dances it (unless you attend a dance event). So she's only going to be able to follow if she already knows her part, and how is that going to happen unless someone tells her?


    First piece of good news: Women who lead wcs tend not to have this habit[1]. Guessing again, it has to do with the skill level of the partners they start with - most men who lead start out as beginners dancing with other beginners; most women who lead start out as advanced followers dancing with their friends (also advanced followers).

    Second piece of good news: good leaders tend to be good leaders all the time. If you have the eye to spot them (support, center, connection are the same in westie as they are everywhere else), go by that. But even if you can't, just listen to what you feel in the first 20 seconds or so - the lead isn't going to get better after that. When your tolerance for his "critique" is used up, excuse yourself politely, walk off the floor, sit out the rest of the song, and try a different partner on the next dance. If you run out of partners before the evening is done, that's not a fun place to dance.

    I love the dance, and I'm quite fond of quite a few individuals I've met dancing it, but The Scene is The Pits.

    [1] Let's not give them too much credit; they tend to bitch to their friends about the lousy leaders until they try leading for themselves. After all, "they can follow anything if the guy leads it".
  17. Flat Shoes

    Flat Shoes New Member

    This separation is very natural. People tend to wan to dance with people they know, and if there is enough people they want to dance with during a night, there is no more time left over.

    But there are different degrees. Some places nobody will say no if asked to dance, while other places you may risk downright rejection.

    But as I mentioned, I think it's a good thing that teachers explicitly teach that correcting others on the social dance floor is bad etiquette. Not everyone will understand that on their own, so they need to hear it formally.
  18. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    Actually, the top of our ballroom community solve the problem of ever needing to teach on the dance floor by never going to a dance where a lesser dancer might actually be :p
  19. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    I've been a fairly active part of the DC westie scene (which is probably the largest outside of Cali) for the last 3-4 years (and in the ballroom competitive scene for the last 10 so that you see that I know both worlds quite well). In that time I've progressed through novice and intermediate levels at competitions (been to both East and West coast conventions) and am now in advanced. Not sure, maybe the DC scene is different, but I can literally count on one hand being told how to do something by a leader during a dance. It's literally almost never happened. I've danced with both local DC leaders and many, many guys of varying levels at the various conventions I've been to and facing a sort of running commentary you guys describe has been a rarity for me personally. If anything, whenever there is a "mistake" made, both the leader and the follower just laugh it off and keep going... Yes, I've had very high-level guys (mostly pros) refuse me a dance if I asked but given how much they get asked to dance at conventions, I tended to give them the benefit of the doubt (although it was tough!) that they were just tired... I mean, every community has bad apples, but I think the WCS community is one of the least "rotten" ones I've experienced.

    I agree with Sam: salsa (and AT) leaders have been waaay more unfriendly towards me than WCS leaders ever have, even the very few who've deemed it necessary to "teach" me. One of the few times I've ventured out to an AT dance, I immediately got the "oh, you're a ballroom dancer" disdainful comment, been told my posture is too upright, etc. And the salsa community is just plain unfriendly/macho/uber-clique-y, to me, period.

    I guess, I have to say I disagree with the general sentiment in this thread:( One caveat: the Boston dancers have not been the friendliest bunch.... So Larinda, there is that:)

    Oh, and I've just discovered Skippy Blair (after hearing her name for the past 3 years!) on Youtube - she's AWESOME!
  20. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    WCS & AT share the distinction of being dances that are very improvisational, but also they are built on unique foundations. It's like the old saying about jazz (music), you learn the chord changes and then you throw them out.

    You have to learn all the foundational elements of AT or WCS before you can figure out which of those elements to change when you improvise. Put it another way, the improvisation is built on a structure and certain assumptions, you don't just randomly make stuff up. So basically those two dances tend to require more knowledge and practice in certain ways - not that other dances are any easier, they're just different.

    Still, none of that excuses people who try to teach you on the dance floor. That's just annoying.

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