Two Songs Or Three

Ok, this is another article for the men (well mostly). Many times, I urge our female students, not to sit and wait to be asked to dance and then be dissed that the guys you really wanted to dance with didn’t ask, and then the ones that were beginners or smelly or ugly, did! I urge them and I’ll urge them again right now if you like, to find the confidence to ask the guys you’d like to dance with. Ask men who’s standard is above yours and enjoy the challenge. Ask beginners and encourage them. But you must protect your own enjoyment of dancing. Ramble ramble -> I’m getting off the track and I said this was an article for the men.

It seems that despite my efforts, on the whole, the ebb and flow of who dances with whom, when they start and when they stop, is largely decided by the men folk. Perhaps one day it will change but perhaps not. In the meantime, that leaves the men with a certain responsibility to the dancing community,  several in fact:

  1. Make sure that ladies of all ages, shapes, sizes and skill levels get plenty of opportunity to dance. Dance with a beginner and remind yourself how the lead must be clearer and what kinds of moves you can lead, even to partners who aren’t familiar. How can you make dancing look great without complexity? Mostly remind yourself how good it feels to make someone’s night by encouraging their dancing. (don’t read “coaching”). Dance with an advanced dancer and refine your lead, your rhythmic accuracy and your repertoire. Don’t be intimidated, great followers are great at following beginners and intermediates too.
  2. Make sure the lady dancers feel comfortable with the amount of dancing you give them.
  3. Make sure that the other guys get to dance with the skilled ladies as well. And here’s where the real point of the title comes in.

Too often I see a lady, usually an intermediate level dancer and usually somewhat fetching, looking a little trapped. I notice that she’s been dancing with the same guy for 4 songs and I wonder if he’s given her the opportunity to sit down or to dance with another partner. At times, I’ll go over and cut in just to help her escape (a potentially hazardous strategy). Sometimes I see that dazed stary look in his eyes and wonder whether he has any idea how many songs have passed.

He might say to me, “If she wanted to stop she could just sit down.” But as I indicated in the opening, many ladies simply wont. They don’t want to be rude and they don’t want to hurt him, or they just don’t have the confidence.

He may even say to me, “I asked her if she wanted to dance another song as each song ended.” Again, can he be confident that she told the truth? Did he ever expect her to say, “No thanks.” OK so maybe she should and maybe the more confident of our ladies would despise her for not having a little more confidence and guts. But please remember, many people who come dancing are already pushing down many personal barriers and feeling quite vulnerable.

So here’s your worst case scenario guys. You go out dancing and meet a girl (or re-meet her) that you kind-of like. You feel comfortable with her and she is great to dance with. The class ends and lo and behold you are “left with her”. Just your lucky night I guess. You are enjoying yourself, dancing your best, laughing at your mistakes. She seems to enjoy it too. Truth be told you dance a good 5 or 6 songs before you even sit down. You didn’t want to end the positive experience and lose her to some other partner.

When it finally ends, she walks away and doesn’t give you any vibe one way or the other. She actually goes to the toilets to wash. All that time she had been eager to end the connection but hadn’t been given an exit rout that she could take politely. She found your smell was a little uncomfortable or your sweaty shirt and vows to never accept your invitation to dance again. She looks around at some other potential dance partners but the next class is about to start, so she heads for her car feeling downright disappointed.

Gentlemen, you have to know that this is the risk you take when you dominate someone’s dance time. It’s just too great a risk in my books. Why not end it after the first or second song, let her sit down, go have a dance with someone else, then ask her again later. Then she has options to avoid the second dance if she wishes. She may be excited to dance with you again and so much the better. On the other hand she may not have enjoyed the first dance with you and may decline or avoid you, but she won’t think you’re a jerk as she would have in the first scenario.

In the meantime, someone else has had the opportunity to dance with her or with you, which is also part of the reason why they came out dancing. It is a community affair and without that community awareness, it becomes very cliquey, competitive and shallow.If your dance club is like that, do yourself a favour and find a new one.

Regular couples should consider this too. If you spend the whole night dancing with your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend, you are missing out on too much, as well as robbing others the pleasure of dancing with your partner and of dancing with you. From my observation, these dancers want to get good quickly but they usually don’t. What usually results from such a closed environment is that errors and weaknesses compound, frustration builds and the love of dancing dies. Even if you’re traing for a comp, try to find time to dance socially as well. Using the social dance time for training is not a very good idea. It’s selfish, a little arrogant and potentially very dangerous.

If you have to keep your partner to yourself for the whole night every night, you need to ask some serious questions about trust, security and co-dependence. Let dancing grow you up into a safer and more peaceful place.

So here’s the rule of thumb I highly recommend. One song is fine. Always ask for the second song, even if the first was only half a song. Never ask for the third.

Take a break – always take a break. A veteran lady dancer told me outright, “The request for a third song borders on abuse of the dancing privilege.” So there you have it from the horses mouth.

Ladies, if you suffer from the dominated dance time problem, here are a few tips for you:

  • Paint one of your teeth black before you go dancing
  • Say, “I’ve got to go to the bathroom” or “I need a drink” (though that might give the wrong message and you might find he wants to chat you up at the bar).
  • What about “I promised Matt a dance.”

Love to get your comments on this readers. Thanks… Brent.





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4 Responses

  1. Sonia Chislett says:

    I am one of those ladies who find it difficult to ask a man to dance. I am from the older generation & was brought up in an era when it was the man who asked a lady. If the lady asked a man, she was’that sort’ of lady. I know that times have changed & I agree with it, but when it has been drummed into you, it is hard to get out of. I also would never go to a bar to buy a drink & not walk into a pub without a man.
    I consider myself as a fairly good dancer. I have not been trained to do drops but can follow most male dancers. I often sit & watch the dancing & notice that a good majority of men ask the young slim females, so I stick to my regular venues as I have been to them for the last 4 years & am getting to know a lot of the men & am slowly building the courage to ask them to dance. Also, the young guys ask me too.
    Luckily I have a partner who dances too, but we rarely dance together as he is busy trying to dance with every woman in the room. I enjoy watching him enjoy himself. My problem is the washing & ironing of his 7 or 8 shirts every time we dance.
    What you have written is so true.
    I would like to say to the ladies. If you are like me, it is up to us to find some courage from somewhere. I am trying, if I don’t I will never dance.

    • Brent says:

      Thanks so much Sonia. This was a very honest and valuable reply and I’m sure it served to open up more understanding in the dancing community.

  2. Cheryl Wood says:

    Right on the button Brett. Although a third or fourth dance is wonderful with someone you know and trust and really enjoy dancing with, it is greedy to hang onot someone for that long, and it’s a great way to start rumours… Also a great comment on dance with someone better to improve, and with someone of a lower level to help bring them up. Also correct – there is nothing worse than someone trying to teach you new moves when all she wants is to enjoy a social dance.And being aware of your partners level is extremely important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a good man drop a woman because he’s only thinking about himself and has led her into something she is not up to – unable to read the lead and level too high. this can be painful not to mention exceedingly embarassing! I have seen looks of utter fear on some womens faces in these cases. Please be aware men, and enjoy every dance!

  3. Brent says:

    Some great observations Cheryl. I do agree that finding your partner’s skill level and “leading to it” instead of “leading in spite of it” is a big part of being a great dancer. I’ve said before that our primary aim should be to make sure that our partner feels better about themselves and about dancing because they danced with us. Thanks heaps for your valuable comment.

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