Ballroom Dance > How to get best out of a social dance event

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Zer0ne, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. Zer0ne

    Zer0ne New Member

    1. I had a beginning ballroom dancing course a couple months ago. Due to my schedule, I can't take any further formal training.

    However, I go to social dance events now and then. The problem is: I know very few basic steps. If you were in my shoes, would you:

    • let your dance partner know ahead that you're not good?
    • be confident and lead her with only a couple of basic steps that you know.
    Usually, there's a mini-workshop before each event but basically they can only teach what I already knew. Of course, I could dance with some other newbies but I had an interesting observation that those newbies can follow very well as long as their partner is a good dancer.

    2. This reminds me of another question. When I dance with a woman at the same or higher level, except that I cannot perform complicated movements, I can lead her perfectly fine. So I think I can dance.

    When I dance with someone new, our dance usually becomes awkward, mostly on the girl part. This would sound consistent that it's her fault.

    However, when she dances with a more advanced dancer, she can follow him smoothly.

    I wonder what would be the problem here.

    P/S: I'm sure these are common problems for newbies and must have been asked on this forum already. However, I don't know what keywords to search.
  2. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    Welcome to DF ZerOne!

    My personal take on number one: I would probably indicate my level of dance to my dance partner so he/she can anticipate (if able) what might be helpful in making the dance go more smoothly.

    As for question number two:

    - advanced followers usually can anticipate for or interpret a lead when it is not clear and are balanced enough over there feet to be able to react quickly.

    - advanced leaders are particularly clear in their leads and can compensate for an inexperienced follower.

    when the dance gets awkward on the follower's part it could be either lead or follow "at fault".

    just my two cents....
  3. Easy

    Easy Active Member

    A man a party is a plus. If you can dance a little, just say I can dance a little and leave it at that.

    And I meant period as an accent not something that one goes through for a few days every month ;)
  4. Zhena

    Zhena Well-Known Member

    1. Whether or not you tell the follower you are inexperienced, lead only what you know. Most followers are happier with a limited number of moves led well than lots of fancy moves led badly. Really, truly. I do not like being yanked or dragged through complex figures, especially off-time. I do like to dance to clear leads that fit the music. If that means simply repeating the basic for 3 minutes, so be it. It also helps if you smile a little. If you feel compelled to apologize for your inexperience, do so only once, not every single time you think you have flubbed again. It's only social dancing, not world peace. Relax and try to enjoy yourself. Follow these rules:
    #1 Make the lady feel good.
    #2 Make yourself feel good.
    #3 Do the steps.
    This does not mean you are responsible for the follower's happiness, just that you shouldn't be so involved in your own discomfort that you make her uncomfortable and you shouldn't do anything that causes her physical pain.

    2. What latingal said. When two inexperienced dancers dance together, there may not be enough shared knowledge to make it work well. Keep working on your part, pay attention to what works and what doesn't (may be different for different partners), and be ready to change as your skills develop.

    Don't think that you really "know" the basic step just because you can do it with a majority of partners. If you continue to watch and learn, you will find every step has multiple layers, and you have to re-learn the basic steps many times over, each time adding another dimension. When your schedule permits, try to find opportunities to learn more.

    Enjoy ....

    Post number 399 ...
  5. JoepiE

    JoepiE New Member

    Have fun! :banana: :cheers:
  6. QPO

    QPO New Member

    As a female I would appreciate if a man told me his level of competancy, not that I am the best follower and still do too much anticipating, but it helps to know where you are at. I think most women are reasonably forgiving if things don't go right.
  7. Zer0ne

    Zer0ne New Member

    Thanks everyone for your comments. As I said, due to my traveling schedule, I don't want to take any formal training at time time. Where should I go or what should I do to improve my skills?
  8. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

  9. I'd say disclose your level but don't be apologetic. Dance what you know until you know it well enough that you can have a conversation without even thinking about the steps. Distract her by engaging her in a conversation. Tell her a funny story. Women fall for that all the time. ;) Show up to as many social parties as you can. You can learn a lot by simply watching others, but don't watch just the advance dancers. The advance dancers can show you what to do but the beginners can show you what not to do, and that is just as valuable.
  10. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    ditto this excellent answer
  11. kimsb2429

    kimsb2429 New Member

    Watch and learn

    Here is what I used to do:

    I'd look at a really old dude who can't really dance his body, but can lead the lady very well. I'd watch with a drink in my hand for a few rounds, and I'd watch for one or two particular moves that are easy to copy and that the women seem to enjoy. I put down my glass, and ask a lady to dance with me. I tell her I'm new to this. Do whatever steps you know for the first half, and as the lady seems to get bored, you decisively try those moves that you saw. If it works out, you've impressed the lady. If it doesn't, laugh and talk about how you just tried to copy that other guy's move. Even if you haven't impressed her, she had a good time dancing with you.
  12. emeralddancer

    emeralddancer Active Member

    I just tell someone straight up that I am a beginner and what dances i do know. Thankfully most men are such sports about it and actually end up teaching me new steps in which I bring back to my instructor and he fine tunes them for me.

    Still need to learn ALOT though ... VW, Samba, WC and EC swing, Jive .... ugh .... so many dances so little time! :D
  13. kimsb2429

    kimsb2429 New Member


    I hear you emeralddancer. When I get decent at latin, I want to do standard, salsa, blues/jazz dancing, swing, and argentine tango. It may just take a while, yea?
  14. tsb

    tsb Well-Known Member

    with a schedule that varies, i'd suggest scheduling a private lesson or two with an appropriate instructor - make sure that the instructor knows your goals which are (at present) dancing at social dances - so that the appropriate skill set is emphasized accordingly - also, try and get an instructor that allows you to videotape your lesson so you can review it (especially if you're traveling - it something you can download to your laptop to review in the evenings.

    i personally recommend that you review the material available at:

    (i still go back from time to time) IMO, being a good lead isn't about technique as much as attaining the right mind set and some of the material to be found here addresses that.

    and when you are at a dance, the general rule is that dancers dance primarily with other dancers of their own proficiency level (we won't go into how most people are in denial as to their own proficiency), while limiting your dances with "more advanced" dancers to one request per evening. but if someone you perceive as being more advanced asks you to dance you are free to accept as many times as they ask.

    after each individual dance, i suggest that you ask for feedback from your partner - just "one" suggestion on something you can improve. most will be happy to offer you useful feedback (but it is generally considered bad manners to offer advice unsolicited unless your partner is doing something that actually causes real discomfort) - and over the course of an evening you will have a slew of pointers - or repeated comments on one issue, which can then prompt you to decide whether scheduling a private may or may not be useful - or what to cover in such a lesson - this kind of feedback might help the instructor pinpoint what needs to be addressed.

    watch less advanced follows - and notice which leads they look better dancing with. approach those leads and compliment them on how good they make beginners look. that should be enough of an ego stroke that they will readily offer useful advice (you might ask them to critique your frame/posture/lead, for example) - or at the very least, find out who their instructor is - should you elect to take privates, you'll have a lead on an instructor whose student you've already seen.
    in my own personal experience, early on, i was in a class where there wasn't sufficient room for the number of people in class, and each time we rotated, the first thing i told my partner was "i know we're supposed to practice the figure being taught, but i'm not going to lead it if we don't have enough room."

    i was still a very inexperienced lead, but women in class began to ask me to dance at subsequent social dances. perhaps it was a unique situation, but the point is that i have found that developing a reputation for looking out for your partner tends to make follows look favorably upon you.
    one last note: i would expect you to receive a lot of initial goodwill, but it may only go so far if you do not noticeably improve - or if you are consistently asking for advice in lieu of paid instruction. but of course YMMV.

    i hope this helps. good luck. have fun (but not at your partner's expense!).

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