Why do people critique and boss me in West Coast?

Zhena

Well-Known Member
#41
My experience has been more like Ithink's than like that of most of the other posters (though without the competition aspect;)). I started learning WCS in a ballroom studio environment. I've been taking pure WCS classes and going to the associated socials for less than a year. I prefer WCS socials to the ballroom socials I attend because I get more invitations to dance, the leaders are aware of the music, and the level of dance skill is higher. I sometimes receive suggestions during WCS class warm-ups, but rarely at a social. I get a lot more verbal leads at the ballroom socials.

It seems it's partly a matter of the culture of the local environment. I'd hate to think mid-dance teaching is as common as it seems from previous posts ... but since I'm likely to stick around my apparently-blessed corner of the westie world, I'll just be happy where I am.
 

GJB

Well-Known Member
#42
I also suspect "teaching" while dancing may be a regional thing. I don't think I have ever seen it at a competition/convention. Saw it here locally last weekend. Interestingly, the men I saw doing it looked like very low level dancers. Suspect they might never have taken a private lesson. Probably have not heard of dance etiquette.
 

GJB

Well-Known Member
#43
Have to admit there is a strong dislike of "ballroom" WCS in the WCS (NASDE type events, etc.) world. Once while dancing someone said to me "Do you do ballroom?" I was a bit offended esp since I dance WCS for several years before ever taking a ballroom dance lesson. Then I thought about it. I think she was comparing the quality of my lead to my lack of musicality. I don't think there is a WCS dancer alive that has danced WCS as long as I have that sucks as much at musicality as I do! I have danced with almost all of the top ladies and I try not to ask when there is a song with lots of breaks playing.
 

GJB

Well-Known Member
#44
Since we are not dancing at the moment, may I suggest to the ladies just one thing that will make the dance much more enjoyable and make you much easier to lead:

If you haven't already done so, learn how to do a nice plain vanilla no frills basic anchor.
 

GJB

Well-Known Member
#46
I haven't seen the criticism. What I saw last weekend was a few men genuinely attempting to help women improve their dancing. But, the men were very unqualified to do so.
 
#47
I haven't seen the criticism. What I saw last weekend was a few men genuinely attempting to help women improve their dancing. But, the men were very unqualified to do so.
Seriously, how many leaders on the social dance floor are able to help women improve their dancing? Many of these "helpful" leaders don't know what they don't know. And, besides that, if the follower needs "help", then the leader needs to back down to the most basic of basic patterns.

I dance, with my mouth shut, when I am dancing with a leader who has No Clue that his feet aren't following the beat, not even a variation of it, totally off time. Mouth shut. Would it be helpful to point this out?

Now, sometimes a little bit of feedback IS helpful. A year or two ago, a number of leaders commented "wow, you're so light!". I asked each one of them, "Too light? is that a good thing or a bad thing? need more connection? does it feel like I'm rushing?". None of them said that they wanted more connection or weight or anything, but I reduced the "lightness" because I really think it indicated I was anticipating, early, etc.
 

etp777

Active Member
#48
This leader makes it very clear that he can lead/teach some very basic steps, but nothing complicated, and even basic ones should be brought up in your next lesson to fix whatever I explained wrong. :)
 

tsb

Well-Known Member
#49
"Experts" abound, but there is no real unifying body to specify right and wrong.
If fact, the opposite is true.
Experts, or just teachers if you want, teach cool stuff. People, probably mostly men, learn these cool moves in classes. BUT, what they don't learn is how to lead the thing when they are dancing with someone who didn't learn the same pattern they did. They only thing they have at that point is trying to talk you through the thing.
i have had the same experience - in ballroom and salsa. looking back, the common element was the dance career of the instructor; those whose careers had been more about performance and competition were more likely to teach unleadable moves and figures. those instructors who put a higher priority on partnering skills tended to teach non syllabus moves that were leadable - and also go into nuances, if any, of how the follow could distinguish one figure from another in how it was led. secondary factors included the level of expectation that one would be dancing with (only) other members of the class - knowing the same "step".

IMO part of being a good leader is not just technical proficiency, but the decision making process - a good lead does not choose figures if he is not sure that the follow can actually follow his lead smoothly. and leads should be taught that, when dancing with strangers, to start with simple figures and increase the difficulty until they perceive that they've reached the proficiency level of their partner - and don't go beyond it. anybody trying to lead a move that their partner has little chance of following well is a poor lead regardless of their level of technical proficiency. but that also reflects what or how these leads are given in terms of instruction in what it means to be a good lead.
 

tsb

Well-Known Member
#50
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.
tom, i doubt you'd have much fun dancing with me if MY idea of fun as a follow included (and i've experienced all of these working as a dance host - though thankfully not all simultaneously):

- no deodorant;
- noodle arms;
- charles atlas arms;
- vulcan nerve pinch with the left hand on the shoulder;
- vulcan never pinch with the right hand on your left hand;
- dancing off beat;
- complaining all the time;
- dropping left arm so as to baste your wrist with my sweaty armpit - or worse getting it on your clothes that you can't wash off - leaving subsequent partners believing that *you* didn't use deodorant (and this has happened more than once);
- backleading;
- keeping my weight on my heels;
- pointing out every perceived flaw in your frame, posture, lead;

you get the idea. the point is that every dancer will have more fun if they are more fun to dance *with*, which includes technique, attitude and demeanor.
 

j_alexandra

Well-Known Member
#51
IMO part of being a good leader is not just technical proficiency, but the decision making process - a good lead does not choose figures if he is not sure that the follow can actually follow his lead smoothly. and leads should be taught that, when dancing with strangers, to start with simple figures and increase the difficulty until they perceive that they've reached the proficiency level of their partner - and don't go beyond it. anybody trying to lead a move that their partner has little chance of following well is a poor lead regardless of their level of technical proficiency. but that also reflects what or how these leads are given in terms of instruction.
:kissme: May I have this next dance? Please?
 

tsb

Well-Known Member
#52
This is so funny, given how WCS enthusiasts stereotypically like to claim that they can lead untrained dancers into anything...
maybe where you come from, but the WCS crowds i tend to see are cliquish enough that the leads wouldn't even consider dancing with an untrained person.

in the ballroom world, WCS is the only dance i won't try to dance with someone if they don't know it; i prefer to do a different dance with them where we are both likely to have more fun.
 

tsb

Well-Known Member
#53
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.
these folks also tend to be the ones teaching in class - while the instructor is speaking.
 

tsb

Well-Known Member
#54
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.
you are probably one of the few people qualified to give a unbiased answer to the following question: how do you think the typically competitive-oriented trained ballroom dancer but untrained in WCS would fare in a WCS jack and jill (at the same corresponding level of their ballroom proficiency)? i'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this.
 

tsb

Well-Known Member
#55
since we are not dancing at the moment, may i suggest to the ladies just one thing that will make the dance much more enjoyable and make you much easier to lead:

If you haven't already done so, learn how to do a nice plain vanilla no frills basic anchor.
rotfl!!!

(and this apparently was my 2000th post!)
 

Me

New Member
#58
I am not sure it is "teaching" that Me was getting at. It is constant criticism.
Yes! Constant criticism, followed by bad or unwanted (or both) on-the-fly instruction.

Last night I chatted with a dancer who hangs with the WC crowd in this general area, and she believes it is a problem, but that I just need to let them know to lay off. She said she's had to say things every now and then to make leads shush. She also said that when she gets tired of the chatter, she starts hijacking the dance to mess with them. I'm not sure whether to take any of her advice or not. I don't like being chatted down to (somebody used that earlier and I like it); however, I don't want to make things worse.

I still wonder if this is a WC specific problem... I am absolutely certain I do not put up with this in other partnership dances. *sigh*
 

kayak

Active Member
#59
you are probably one of the few people qualified to give a unbiased answer to the following question: how do you think the typically competitive-oriented trained ballroom dancer but untrained in WCS would fare in a WCS jack and jill (at the same corresponding level of their ballroom proficiency)? i'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this.
I hope you don't mind another answer?

The interesting thing is your scenario really doesn't occur. Each J&J competitor has to get points to move up. Having everyone start as a Novice really caught me by surprise when I started. Here I was a true novice and I was dancing against pros from other dance forms that just needed to adapt to WCS. It was really intimidating. Having other dance experience does help get out of Novice. In the Intermediate/Advanced categories, creating the feel of WCS is really important.

I think the transfer of technique really has a lot to do with a dancer's attitude. It is kind of like being a rhythm dancer signing up for a smooth comp. The judges are looking for a specific feel. So if we took that great rhythm technique to Waltz, the judges would crush us. If we took a start at ground zero attitude and really added smooth technique, we learn faster than a true rookie and compete pretty well. The same is true with swing comps. The judges are looking for a very specific look and feel. So bringing awesome ChaCha talent really doesn't help win a swing J&J.
 
#60
Is this just a part of WC swing?
Not in my experience. It is indicative of severely stunted dance etiquette, though. While I don't advocate being uh... tetchy with people as a general rule, I might be tempted to do one or the following:
  • "Where do you teach?"
  • "I'm sorry, I'm just here to have fun, not take a lesson."
  • "Gee I must have missed that workshop. Too bad. Why don't we stick to stuff we both know?"
If it is really, really awful and you don't mind burning a few bridges...
  • Drop the person's hand mid-dance and say "That's just about the rudest thing I've experienced. I'm sorry but I just can't finish this dance with you if this is how it's going to be. Sorry." If you're feeling generous, walk them to the edge of the dance floor. If you're NOT, just leave them in the middle of the floor.
 

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