Not All Social Contact is Appreciated

May 5, 2010

Partner dancing should be considered a (social) contact sport. Some dances (and/or partners) require, encourage, or allow more contact than others – but the contact is meant to improve the connection between partners – and not injure or interfere with other couples. If people drove their cars the way many seem to dance, there would be a lot less people (alive) on the road.

For reasons I do NOT at all understand, very few couples seem to look where they are going or pay attention to what others are doing around them while they are dancing. Although there is NO justifiable reason for it, it is not at all uncommon for even the best dancers to get bumped, elbowed, stepped on, or even knocked over by others who are unable or unwilling to control of themselves or who are unaware of (their affect on) those around them. Surprisingly, it does not seem to matter whether or not the dance floor is particularly crowded or if anyone is or is not intoxicated. The chances of getting stepped on by a stiletto (at the very least) seem about the same – except among the more highly trained competitive dancers.

Just as some cars are easier to steer than others, some partners are easier to lead or follow than others. It is rare to not have to share the road or the dance floor. Everyone’s safety depends upon paying attention to what others are doing and obeying the “rules of the road”. This is as true in dancing as it is in driving.

Most dance lessons seem to emphasize steps, patterns, footwork, timing, rhythm, syncopation, variations, body movement, styling, and to a lesser degree partnership, connection, and how to really lead and follow. All are helpful in looking and feeling good while dancing (especially with someone else). So why do so many people crash into each other? Few people ever learned or were taught the importance of FLOORCRAFT and allowing enough room for others.

While connection with the music, the eyes, hearts, and imagination of any admiring onlookers, and your own emotions within are encouraged, the only physical contact dancers should have is with their partner (and their feet on the floor). A good leader is one who not only makes his partner look and feel good but also one who protects her – and others – from hitting anything (especially other people). Whether you lead or follow, PLEASE keep in mind that you are NOT the only one(s) dancing – and be as, if not more, aware of others around you as you are of the music, yourself, your partner, and whatever you are doing together.

Finally, don’t be a robot – doing some learned pattern no matter what. Learn to adjust to the rhythm and changes in the music and the available space around you. Jam to the music and connect with your partner but please refrain from stepping on someone else’s foot other than your own and remembering that good eye contact does not mean (accidentally) sticking your finger into someone else’s eye (or anywhere else). Follow the line of dance, stay in your track, and don’t let your spot or movements take up any more space than you need to. Not only will maintaining a safety zone allow more room for others, but also allow others to better see and appreciate your dancing.

© 2010 – 2015, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.

2 Responses to “Not All Social Contact is Appreciated”

  1. Ah, dancing . . . another metaphor for life. Haven’t done much of that for years and never did have a lesson. Too bad, it might have served me well though I’m pretty sure I didn’t stomp on many toes. I’ll have to share this post with my husband and maybe he’ll take a ballroom dance class with me after all.

    One can hope, can’t she?

  2. If you can walk, you can dance….

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