Why do people critique and boss me in West Coast?

Grr...



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.

</quixote>
:cheers:

I really like the way you put that. I can't stand the harrumphy attitude of some folks, as in, "I spent X number of years and Y number of dollars on lessons to learn this dance properly, and I won't lower myself to dance with someone who doesn't take it seriously." Oh brother. :rolleyes:

I mean, sure I want to dance with good people, and I too have put much effort into developing my skill. But what's so bad about just putting a smile on someone's face? Maybe that person will never take lessons or get good at it. So what if that happens? (Assuming no one is getting hurt). Social dance is supposed to be about fun.
 
Anyway, I asked a guy to dance. He gave me a skeptical look and said "do you really know West Coast? How many lessons have you had?"
That's usually a bad sign, and at that point I should have just changed my mind but I figured, okay, I asked him, so I should go through with it.

So we start dancing. I did some syncopations to express the music, and he patronizingly said "that's not bad", kind of like he hadn't expected me to know or do anything at all. It was somewhat hard to follow him because he didn't anchor or give connection. He was just sort of doing his own moves. So I did the best I could. (I don't have trouble following other leaders at various levels).

Then he starts trying to teach me and correct me. At that point I lost it. I told him I couldn't dance with him if he was going to try to teach me on the floor. Of course he got offended and said "well, you should learn how to dance". Then he walked off in a huff. Boy, that sure was the capper to my stressful week. Glad the other dancers there were nice.
Yes, I'm thinking the lesson there is definitely "do not ignore your intuition".
:D
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
Originally Posted by jennyisdancing

"Then he starts trying to teach me and correct me. At that point I lost it. I told him I couldn't dance with him if he was going to try to teach me on the floor. Of course he got offended and said "well, you should learn how to dance". Then he walked off in a huff. Boy, that sure was the capper to my stressful week. Glad the other dancers there were nice."


And, this is the kind of thing that prompted 'Me' to start this thread. It's horrid!

I've posted before that one of my partner's fav sayings is that you are not an advanced dancer until you can dance well with a newbie.
 
I had to laugh when I read the opening to this thread because I have had just the opposite experience. In WCS there seems to be an abundance of followers that are bossy, overly assertive, or just plain unpleasant.

There have been some good theories in this thread about why WCS leads are like that but I can assure you it's no difference for us leads.

Most of the time what the follower tells me is a valid suggestion so I try to do it as best I can (unless she is rude the way she tells me). In WCS I have had many partners that were far less pleasant and basically let me know that if I can't do what she wanted I suck.

So, the culture of WCS does seem to foster bossiness from both leads and followers. I don't know why.
 
There have been some good theories in this thread about why WCS leads are like that but I can assure you it's no difference for us leads.
Agreed. And it's not just in WCS. I deal with it A LOT in Salsa. Very annoying, indeed. I mean, come on. This should be a fun activity. Why all the bossing?? Good grief!!
 
Agreed. And it's not just in WCS. I deal with it A LOT in Salsa. Very annoying, indeed. I mean, come on. This should be a fun activity. Why all the bossing?? Good grief!!
Agreed. If someone wants technical perfection and/or only wants to dance with people at their level, they should stick to competition or join a performance team. Social dancing is not the right avenue for that type of person IMO.
 
Agreed. If someone wants technical perfection and/or only wants to dance with people at their level, they should stick to competition or join a performance team. Social dancing is not the right avenue for that type of person IMO.
Yup, exactly. It's the imperfections in social dancing that make it fun. :)

I have yet to see even instructors or professional dancers that are perfect when social dancing. There will always be mistakes because it's a spontaneous dance.
 
:cheers:

I really like the way you put that. I can't stand the harrumphy attitude of some folks, as in, "I spent X number of years and Y number of dollars on lessons to learn this dance properly, and I won't lower myself to dance with someone who doesn't take it seriously." Oh brother. :rolleyes:

I mean, sure I want to dance with good people, and I too have put much effort into developing my skill. But what's so bad about just putting a smile on someone's face? Maybe that person will never take lessons or get good at it. So what if that happens? (Assuming no one is getting hurt). Social dance is supposed to be about fun.
I had to beat that out of one advanced level guy I knew in my WCS. As I told him, " If you don't dance with beginners they will STAY beginners and you will end up with fewer and fewer people to dance with. Besides, this is Toronto - the bulk of the beginners here are coming in with knowledge of another dance (Ballroom, Salsa...) so they may have something to teach you!"

Luckily, he got the message.
 
Anyway, I asked a guy to dance. He gave me a skeptical look and said "do you really know West Coast? How many lessons have you had?"
That's usually a bad sign, and at that point I should have just changed my mind but I figured, okay, I asked him, so I should go through with it.

So we start dancing. I did some syncopations to express the music, and he patronizingly said "that's not bad", kind of like he hadn't expected me to know or do anything at all. ...

Then he starts trying to teach me and correct me. At that point I lost it. I told him I couldn't dance with him if he was going to try to teach me on the floor. Of course he got offended and said "well, you should learn how to dance".

:D
:D Been there done that. But this is not just a WCS thing. I recall being at Toronto Salsa Practice and asking a guy to dance. He looks me up and down (I am not a small woman) and asks "What Level are you?"

I was aghast. And annoyed. So I said, "I am intermediate level American Style Ballroom, intermediate level ECS and WCS, beginner Lindy Hop. I do a basic lead in foxtrot, waltz, cha cha and merenque, intermediate level lead for ECS. And I learned all that AFTER I did Salsa. So you tell me"

So he danced with me and he could not lead for ....

Whether its swing or latin or ballroom, give me a leader or follower who can do a solid basic over a schmuck who thinks s/he is G-d's gift anyday.
 

tsb

Well-Known Member
I had to laugh when I read the opening to this thread because I have had just the opposite experience. In WCS there seems to be an abundance of followers that are bossy, overly assertive, or just plain unpleasant.

There have been some good theories in this thread about why WCS leads are like that but I can assure you it's no difference for us leads.

Most of the time what the follower tells me is a valid suggestion so I try to do it as best I can (unless she is rude the way she tells me). In WCS I have had many partners that were far less pleasant and basically let me know that if I can't do what she wanted I suck.

So, the culture of WCS does seem to foster bossiness from both leads and followers. I don't know why.
someone i would fondly describe as my dance godmother once told me:

"i love west coast swing, but i don't like a lot of the people who dance it."

everyone dances for different reasons, and i've learned not to assume that the next person has the same motivations/expectations and, most significantly, understanding of and respect for dance etiquette, especially when it comes to club dances; many if not most "club" dance venues (at least here in LA, anyway) sell alcohol which is their greatest source of profit, and the consumption of alcohol generally decreases levels of courteous behavior.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
I happened across a recently (2008 )published book about CW dancing in LA during the peak of country western dancing days. There's a great statement about West Coast Swing dancers, that is just a bit too naughty to relate. Basically, it has to do with how we rank each other as dancers, or, the pecking order. Can't say anymore here since I'd probably have to moderate myself.

The book is "Pablo Stories" by Paul McClure, and I'm really enjoying it.
(Of course WCS and Western Swing is a subject of research for me, so it fits right in there.)
 
I'm a little surprised to read complaints of West Coast Swing dancers being bossy and critical. My experience (as a leader, so I admit that I don't see it from both sides) is that most good WCS dancers will dance at least once or twice with whoever asks them, and try to adjust to partner's abilities. Along with country-western, WCS is one of the most democratic (with a small "d") dances I know of. Locally, it's a lot less formal than some others.

It should go without saying that you can't presume to dance all night with someone far more advanced who is there mainly to dance with his or her peers. But many will dance with you at least once in an evening, and if you're a beginner that's something to appreciate and enjoy.

The first time I danced two-step with an expert, she began this seemingly endless series of spins which had me in a panic until I figured out that I'd better lower my left hand. She knew exactly what had happened and just smiled at me for the mistake. Those are invaluable learning experiences, and she managed to teach me a lesson without speaking a word!

I suspect that the rude ones, the unasked-for teachers-on-the-floor, get socially quarantined pretty quickly until they change their ways. I hope so.
 
I'm a little surprised to read complaints of West Coast Swing dancers being bossy and critical. My experience (as a leader, so I admit that I don't see it from both sides) is that most good WCS dancers will dance at least once or twice with whoever asks them, and try to adjust to partner's abilities. Along with country-western, WCS is one of the most democratic (with a small "d") dances I know of. Locally, it's a lot less formal than some others.

It should go without saying that you can't presume to dance all night with someone far more advanced who is there mainly to dance with his or her peers. But many will dance with you at least once in an evening, and if you're a beginner that's something to appreciate and enjoy.

The first time I danced two-step with an expert, she began this seemingly endless series of spins which had me in a panic until I figured out that I'd better lower my left hand. She knew exactly what had happened and just smiled at me for the mistake. Those are invaluable learning experiences, and she managed to teach me a lesson without speaking a word!

I suspect that the rude ones, the unasked-for teachers-on-the-floor, get socially quarantined pretty quickly until they change their ways. I hope so.
I wish it were so, but it doesn't happen. People are too afraid to do anything, or some folks are so eager to keep dancing that they won't turn anyone down.

I have mixed feelings about the situation you described during a two-step. If the lady was a professional teacher, I guess her approach might be okay. If she wasn't, then I don't know...you didn't seem to mind, but depending on the situation it might come across like she was trying to embarrass you.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
One of my favorite dance partners is, shall we say, irrepressible, especially during West Coast Swing. Often the guys end up looking at her with a sort of dazed look.
At the same time, she will rarely turn anyone down when they ask her to dance.

One of the instructors at "my" CW place will definately "hijack" things at times.

I will lead things that some of my new partners probably have never been asked to do before. The ones who see it as being "playful", who laugh and don't let it bother them, become repeat partners.

There is no malice in any of us. We are just doing what we do, while observing the response we get from our partner, and taking it from there.

Some women have told me that they like doing WCS with me because if they do something different, they know I will handle it somehow.

Bet this advanced female dancer noted that you were a good sport about the whole thing.

Is this non-verbal teaching?
Yeah, I guess it is.

As far as verbal teaching goes...
Have personally had many, many experiences both trying to share information, and women trying to share information.
I keep reminding myself that I am dancing socially, and try to work with what I get from my partners, and leave it at that.

I've been taking lessons again, and we'll see how well I;ve learned my lesson.

It should go without saying that you can't presume to dance all night with someone far more advanced who is there mainly to dance with his or her peers. But many will dance with you at least once in an evening, and if you're a beginner that's something to appreciate and enjoy.
Very wise words.
 
I'm a little surprised to read complaints of West Coast Swing dancers being bossy and critical. My experience (as a leader, so I admit that I don't see it from both sides) is that most good WCS dancers will dance at least once or twice with whoever asks them, and try to adjust to partner's abilities. Along with country-western, WCS is one of the most democratic (with a small "d") dances I know of. Locally, it's a lot less formal than some others.

It should go without saying that you can't presume to dance all night with someone far more advanced who is there mainly to dance with his or her peers. But many will dance with you at least once in an evening, and if you're a beginner that's something to appreciate and enjoy.

The first time I danced two-step with an expert, she began this seemingly endless series of spins which had me in a panic until I figured out that I'd better lower my left hand. She knew exactly what had happened and just smiled at me for the mistake. Those are invaluable learning experiences, and she managed to teach me a lesson without speaking a word!

I suspect that the rude ones, the unasked-for teachers-on-the-floor, get socially quarantined pretty quickly until they change their ways. I hope so.
I'm not surprised because I do not think it is possible to generalize about most things, including a particular dance and the crowd that goes with that dance. It can vary from place to place. So good venues are to be treasured...
 

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