The future of Swing?

Dear Venue Hosts,
Why is the percentage of repeat dance students at most Venues so abominably low? Every time students don't return to a dance class, we have to assume their teacher dis-couraged them from becoming dancers or they went to another teacher to try to learn or they got hit by a car and are laying up in the emergency ward waiting for blood transfusions. When I have asked Venue Hosts or teachers why the extreme falloff of new dance students in their group classes, I get answers that blame the students, e.g. 'the students are fickle' or 'their enthusiasm wore off' or 'their mothers wont let them stay out late'.
In the past 4 years, here in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, I often tried to pick the brains of the active Venue teachers as to their teaching background or ask them, 'What is the difference between West Coast and East Coast Swing or where did they themselves learn to dance.' Of the last question, the answer invariably is ' the Steven Sisters at the Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association (PBDA). Of the other answers to the first two questions, I too often get very garbled gooblie gook dissertations that stress my imagination and send me home wondering what planet this teacher came from.
The last time I suggested to the Venue Hosts, "Hire competent dance teachers", instead of thanking me for the suggestion, I received some rebukes that were incredibly creative. 'You can lead a mule to water, but try putting a saddle on him!' The problem of Venue Hosts hiring competent teachers is, that they themselves too often have no idea of good teaching techniques. They usually hire incompetent friends or use a criterion based on the teacher's level of dancing; if he's that good a dancer, he must be as good teacher. It ain't necessarily so!
I think John Mc Enroe was one of our all time greatest tennis players, but Johnny Carson, the former 'Tonight Show ' Host who was an ardent tennis buff, after taking three or four lessons from McEnroe, quit with deprecating remarks of John's teaching ability. My Swimming Coach at University of Miami 1946-? won almost every annual National Championship, but coach Lamar could not swim a stroke without hitting the bottom of the pool.
'Don't judge a book by the pornographic photos!
So how do these Venue Hosts choose good teachers? Ask as many patrons of your Venue who they prefer as teachers; hand out anonymous questionnaires, and then supervise your teachers using the following parameters:
(1) Teachers, after the lesson, make yourself available for additional help to students; it indicates to them that you are sincerely interested in helping them. The lesson does not end on the dot;
(2) Dance with each student at least once after class;
` (3) Greet each and every student by name;
(4) Avoid showing off your fancy dancing; it may be impressive but it often is intimidating and dis-couraging. Keep the demonstrations and your lessons simple. (KISS)
(5) Teachers who start a minute late are sending a negative message to the waiting, paying, drooling, expectant student whose enthusiasm is further abated with each minute of the teacher's lack of punctuality.
(6) Teachers who confine themselves to dancing with only the best dancers are unknowingly being 'cliquish' , a good way of ignoring and rejecting those students who pay your fees.
One last suggestion; ladies, do not hesitate to ask the best male dancers for a dance. Man's instinctive need is to be needed, and your invitation to a dance is feeding his ego. I never said no to any lady who asked me for a dance. It is a very high compliment to any man to ask him for a dance.
I don't mean this in a bad way, but teachers who can't keep at least a majority of their students as repeat students, should take up an more honest job like, 'mugging old ladies'.

Check my Web Page for vintage photos and stories of the 1950's in Hollywood,

Black Sheep

Dance Ads