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. basicarita

    basicarita Member

    This is what I'm wondering.

    All four of these things, actually.
  2. Artemia

    Artemia New Member

    If you wonder.. I shall answer! (Well, I shall try to since who can say what's really going on but the people themselves.)

    The place I went to has an Intermediate WCS class followed by a party from 9:15 to midnight. Quite a few people from the class did not stay for the party, and many people who were at the party did not come to the class. I cannot recall seeing either of the two people I whined about in my post previous at the class, though they were at the party. (We did not make it fully through the rotation but I do not think that either one was part of the 7 or so people I didn't get to dance with at the class.)

    So, I don't know if the instructor teaches these people on a regular basis. I take classes from this instructor at a different studio and he has never once talked about anything -- either good or bad -- about critiquing your partners while dancing. He does an amazing job talking about both WCS theory (how to figure out a move even if you don't know the pattern, just by feeling the lead) and while I have no idea how he could encourage this idea in his students, if I took a moment to think about it I don't believe he has any habits that would allow his students to feel superior enough to their partners to act in such a rude way.

    As I said, I did mention to him that I had been told I was jumping before the lead, but I wasn't about to turn around and point a finger out in the ballroom at the guy. It was a rude way for the concept to be broached to me, but what if he had been right and I was doing something wrong? (Granted, I'd never want to be told anything like that in such a derogatory manner, but at the same time if he was RIGHT I can't go around parading the bloody wound he gave me for people to say 'well, you ARE doing that.')

    The place was about an hour away from my house anyway so I won't be going there on a normal basis. The reason I say that is not because of the negative experience I had there (more the fact that gas is EXPENSIVE) but it's somewhat sad to say that I won't miss it because of the icky kind of people that asked me to dance. Good news is I had more positive dances than bad ones... bad news is that with all bad news it usually sticks a bit longer than good.. er.. news.

    I am curious though: If someone shoots an insult like that at you while you're dancing (his wasn't even a recommendation to improve, just a criticism, but I mean this in the case of any sort of statement about one's dancing) ... what do you do? Do you just ignore it and finish the dance, do you say "Oh, alright" and keep dancing or do you do what I desperately wanted to and just leave them? (I find it super rude to leave someone in the middle of the floor, and I feel it would tarnish my reputation, but graargh sometimes I want to.)
  3. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Many years ago, I happened to arrive early to San Francisco for a dance event (presumably Boogie), and went to Kelly Casanova's weekly class. For her students that would be attending their first event, she took 5 or 10 minutes to enumerate a number of situations in which the appropriate response was

  4. Artemia

    Artemia New Member

    How long do I have to sit out after that statement? It's such an awkward moment, especially since I am the bubbly and super upbeat blond girl that does her best to do no harm -- really would tarnish my reputation to start making the people who think they're all that hate me.

    However I appreciate the insight -- any tips on how to use it in practice?
  5. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Perhaps a statement such as "I see that I am not up to your standards for this dance. Perhaps it is best if I let you find someone better to dance with..? Excuse me." And then make way to your seat. If someone else invites you to dance you are free to accept since it would be supposed that you ARE good enough to dance with the new person.

    However I wouldn't bother to say anything except "thanks for tips" and smile until the dance was over. And rememebr to be busy next time he wanders your way.
  6. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Usually if someone tries to teach me or makes other comments I just grit my teeth, politely finish the dance and vow to avoid that person again. But last time, the guy was just over the top with his criticisms and I saw no reason to keep dancing with him. (See this post. )

    After that I walked off the floor to go and calm down. Then I told the teacher about this rude guy. The teacher asked me to point the guy out. I don't know if the teacher did anything after that. Meanwhile, after another song or two, I headed back to the floor and danced with others who were very nice, but it was hard to forget the aggravation.

    I understand what kind of event you attended - where basically they hire a teacher to do a lesson before the dance, and the dancers are not necessarily regular students of that teacher. I asked because it would be a little different if the dance was at a studio where the teacher was affiliated. Which makes me wonder, are there dances at the studio where you take lessons? Also, seeing as you discussed your bad experience with this teacher, can he recommend perhaps other, more friendly places to dance?

    Bottom line is, find places with nice people and a good vibe. In my case, unfortunately, a couple of the closest and most convenient dance venues in my area have the biggest number of unfriendly or annoying people. So I've found other places to go.
  7. Ithink

    Ithink Active Member

    I wonder what the appropriate response to would have been to Kelly Casanova herself when she said a number of condescending and rude things to me at this year's Boogie by the Bay when she deemed it necessary to demote me in level against the competition's own rules... But that's beside the point...

    Artemia, it's only happened to me once, when I first started dancing WCS, that someone said something rude to me during a dance about my own dancing. I was so shocked by it, mostly because I hadn't seen anyone else in the local community do that, I didn't say anything and just finished the song. These days a) I know the guy who said it is more than a little off in general and b) he compliments my dancing incessantly now when he dances with me or even watches me dance... So, I think things like that pass, eventually...
  8. Holy cow! I'm sorry you had to experience that at BBB!

    (I caught the last part of her workshop, the one where she supplied an etiquette handout...).
  9. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Oh my god, I would have had a field day!

    (Of course, the freedom to not care to maintain a good relationship with the head judge also means I'm unlikely to find myself in that situation.)
  10. Dancelf, assuming a competitor is not attacking the judge :), a competitor should not have to worry about maintaining a good relationship with the head judge or any other judge.

    In fact, I would say that there really isn't a 'relationship' to be maintained... at least, I sure hope that there is not, otherwise, the objectivity that the judges should preserve is tarnished. I know, I know, judges are human, too.
  11. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    I'd note that Laura is a lovely dancer and person and is one of the best by far on the floor when she goes to a social.
  12. SadKumquat

    SadKumquat New Member

    Yikes, reading this entire thread brings back some awesomely bad memories. Once upon a time, I was the advice giver - and my mentality was that I wanted to help as much as possible and I loved the dance so much that was the way to give back. Luckily, someone was nice enough to point out how very disrespectful it was to give unbidden advice. Nowadays, I don't give advice at all unless it's asked, and even when it's asked I generally demur unless I know I can devote some time to instruction (i.e. not in between social dances). The lone exception is if the follower is doing something that could potentially hurt me or her - then I would point that out and work with her to fix it; protect the collective, as it were :).

    Apologies to everyone who've run into the self-made critics...
  13. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Good response, Laura!
  14. kmaitland

    kmaitland New Member

    Sounds like a regional thing

    You know what happens in Toronto when a leader (or follower for that matter) does that sort of nonsense? They don't get to dance much... then they don't get to dance at all. I see that sort of foolishness in the salsa crowd -- but only with idiots who can't dance.

    Toronto may have its own issues in its WCS scene but that sort of behavior is definitely NOT one of them. For one thing, it is too small (compared to Lindy, Salsa, Ballroom). Secondly, to be frank, everybody here has had the same teacher - Julie Epplett. If you learned something new at workshop you can bet that Julie was there. So at the very least, the leading is consistent.

    So if you are in Toronto - or at SwingNiagara - hang with the Toronto crowd (and Kitchener too - Sean Browne teaches there and is a sweetie).
  15. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Nice to hear that the social scene is more pleasant up north. Welcome to DF too. :)
  16. kmaitland

    kmaitland New Member

    Many thanks, Jenny!
  17. plugger

    plugger Member

    I don't think it's regional. I don't buy that dancers in some parts of the country are ruder than elsewhere. Maybe it’s true of a particular club or venue but I doubt that too. Word would get around and the offender would be corrected, I hope.
    I'm a leader, and I haven’t gotten the annoying feedback that some on this forum have experienced, so take this with a grain of salt. The only complaints I've heard from followers about that sort of thing were pretty exceptional, and after word got around, the offender learned to cool down. I think he probably meant to be helpful.
    It’s true that West Coast could use practicas, but where I live most WCS classes are either followed by on-site dancing or by everybody heading to a particular local nightclub. In a way these serve as practicas because it's a chance to use the moves they just learned, but it’s also social dancing (in front of observers, at the night club) and that makes being corrected on the floor a bit more embarrassing.
    Some teaching of beginners by their partners is hard to avoid, since West Coast is an asymmetric dance and it has elements that the follower cannot possibly deduce just from the lead. She simply has to know about them in advance.
    For instance, in a left side pass the lead is a single step -- back and off the slot. All the rest is up to the follower. If she doesn't walk it out as expected, the leader may figure she's unclear on the concept and try to advise her.
    Also, there’s a confusing number of ways to do basic things in WCS. The J lead for whips, for instance, is widely used in Texas but scorned in other places. For some leaders, a basic whip requires stepping forward on 2 toward the head of the slot and immediately catching the follower. In another city most leaders will step back on 2 and wait for her to walk into their right arm.
    Then there's that coaster step in ballroom WCS instead of an anchor. In one post, the follower said a leader complained that she had come forward too soon. Done wrong, a coaster can cause her to step forward on 6 and lose the tension needed for a good lead on 1, so some leaders may want to correct the partner.
    Finally, one post mentioned a leader objecting to the follower's play. I don't want to get into that except to say that there are different views on the subject. If it reaches a point that the leader feels he's not able to lead anything because the follower is always taking off on her own, he’s likely to complain. I saw one leader raise his right arm and look at his watch while the follower, on his left arm, kept playing.
  18. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Okay, well, in theory, the follower should say no to a WCS dance if she doesn't even know the most basic steps. But if she tells the leader "I don't really know WCS, can you help me out/talk me through it/let's just try it and have fun", that's fine, if he agrees. If there's no explicit discussion, and the leader simply recognizes that she doesn't know the basics, then he should offer, diplomatically, to explain a few things, not dictate or assume the role of teacher. If your follower doesn't want your help, my opinion is basically just to lead whatever is leadable with her. If that means you can't do a side pass, so be it. Stay in closed position more, lead turns if she can do them, etc.

    However, some of the complaints are not about this. It's about being an experienced dancer (or at least knowing the basics decently) and still getting critiqued, talked to, bossed around, etc. on the dance floor. That's just not cool.
  19. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Yeah, it's not. Very true...
  20. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member


    I know it's gone out of vogue, but it turns out that beginning followers CAN deduce their movement if you lead all of the steps, instead of just one.

    Dancing with beginners is a skill that can be learned.

    Rakatakaboom likes this.

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