Ballroom Dance > Tails for American smooth?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by billman, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. smidra86

    smidra86 Active Member

    Those videos are really interesting to watch. It also almost looks like the ladies are holding their skirts to almost act as floats, since they would get tangled up in actual floats. This is really fabulous to learn about and see.
    j_alexandra likes this.
  2. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    It used to be all about the skirts. The first time I ever saw pro smooth, I said... "look, peacocks!!!"
    smidra86 and JudeMorrigan like this.
  3. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Yes, but Smooth has also changed a lot in that time. Smooth looks a lot different now than it did a decade ago, both the dancing and the aesthetic. It's moved further away from Standard, and it only makes sense that the costuming should follow suit.

    Personally, I don't think tails look good in Smooth, even if everyone was wearing them a decade ago. I think men's Latin jumpsuits are awful too, and they certainly were popular for a time. Modern Smooth suits are far more suited to the style, and IMO they developed to complement the style - just like modern Latin costuming.

    But that's not the point, really. The point is it doesn't matter what was fashionable in the past; all that matters is what looks good right now. Right now, almost no one (even the top dancers) wears tails in Smooth. You will look out of place wearing a tailsuit. You can choose to do so, but you can't deny that you'll be making a statement... hopefully it's one you want to make.

    It's not a "beginner" observation any more than someone observing that modern Latin leg technique, modern Standard frame, etc. looks better than what they did in decades past. Breaking away from the past does not automatically make something "beginner."
  4. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    that you popped a button on your smooth coat... kidddinngggg
    dbk likes this.
  5. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    They are the current style. That does not make them better. In the videos Larinda posted, I saw a quality of movement I simply don't see on the competition floor any more.

    Arguably, a newbie will be more likely to make the observation that tails don't belong in smooth, than someone with a long dance history. People who haven't been dancing ballroom for long simply don't know what was done as recently as 10 years ago. This thread bears that out quite nicely.
    pygmalion, danceronice and dlliba10 like this.
  6. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Thanks for your comments in this thread, they've been eye-opening. And you've reminded me how much tails played a role in the genesis of Smooth.
    j_alexandra and billman like this.
  7. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Nor does it automatically make them worse, which was my point.
  8. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Nor was it mine.

    And I wouldn't go around comparing tailsuits to catsuits. One is clearly a costume and one is formal wear. And white tie and tails will really never go out of style.

    As for the current trend, yes it is suits... at the moment. Before that it was sleeveless suits. Before that it was sleevless tails (thank god that didn't last long!) and before that it was vest suits. That much change in about 10 years. That only qualifies them as trends.

    Tails for Smooth have been around since ...
    Well, look at Sam Sodano in the 60's... that's 50 years at least!! I would just need to ask a few people tomorrow at the NDCA meeting to think back to how long ago they can remember wearing them.

    I'd say that qualifies tails as the basic costume, with a few recent trends we have seen in very very brief history. And I guarantee if someone right now would go out in a really nice pair, tailored for smooth... people would applaud.
    pygmalion likes this.
  9. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    I was going to say that it used to be the case that only Names could get away with wearing something other than a tailsuit. Everyone else had to wear one.

    And yes, the Smooth suit was cut differently than the Standard suit to accommodate the flailing arms.

    Come back in 15 years and tell us whether you feel the current Smooth costuming trend looks better than what's being worn at that time. :rolleyes:

    Have you seen modern Standard tails?
  10. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure what your point is. I have no idea what Smooth costuming will look like in the future. Maybe it will further accentuate the style; maybe - like men's Latin jumpsuits - it won't. But right now, I think Smooth costuming is much more complementary to Smooth dancing than tails.

    Of course, I'm only human, but I like to think that I will not give automatic preference to 'the good old days' simply because that was what was in style when I was younger.

    Seen, discussed, worn (briefly), and helped into. The pants especially are much looser at the top, and the trend right now is for much wider (almost comically) legs.

    But that's certainly not the point.

    Either way, I think the classic, clean lines of a tail suit are wrinkled and upset by Smooth shaping and apart work. The high waist (where the suit breast ends, higher than the natural waist) and baggy pants are not complementary to the style, especially in apart work. It just does not work for me, traditional or not.

    I can't help but bring up men's Latin jumpsuits once again: older does not mean better, or more complementary to the style. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference - and you can't deny that I (along with most modern dancers) certainly have good reason to prefer Smooth suits in Smooth.
  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I could be wrong, but I think that the point Larinda and Joe both made very well is that, just because I like (fill in name of trendy fashion designer) doesn't make Chanel any less a timeless classic.

    And Larinda even brought video. ;)
  12. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    I have to say that I found it a particular treat to see video of David on the competition floor. I'm not sure why it never occured to me to look that up before. Thanks, Larinda!
  13. billman

    billman Active Member

    Wow! Great information. I have also talked to a few other high end dancers online and there is a general opinion that wearing tails for Smooth, while not popular, might be frowned upon by some judges. Some judges might actually like the look but only in gold level or higher. My partner and I do like the "retro" look... conjuring up visions of Astaire and Rodgers, a more romantic, classy look. The cost of a tailsuit, along with the tailoring to make it suitable for smooth could be the determinating factor for us.
  14. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Yes, I do think that is part of their point, and I do agree that it's classic. That said, I don't think it's "timeless," since you will stick out if you wear tails in Smooth, in a way you wouldn't with a timeless Chanel piece. Nor do I think 1) acknowledging that you will stick out in tails, or 2) a preference for current trends, means you have "baby eyes" as Larinda puts it.
  15. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I am not arguing that tails are "classic" or more appropriate, or better. I was simply saying that "tails are inappropriate for smooth" is a false statement. And I gave facts to support my argument.

    If someone likes trendy, fine, wear a suit with a horizontal front closure and frogs at the neck, with a bedazzled arm. Fine, knock ya selves out. If you want something traditional, although "untrendy"... wear tails. It isn't going to change your marks one bit. They are both "appropriate".
    danceronice likes this.
  16. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    And this is why at the lower levels, and collegiate comps, men opt for a vest from Macys, and a pair of latin practice pants. But in the end a good suit and a good set of tails will run you about the same, and that should not determine which one you buy for smooth.
  17. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    I'm curious. Would I be reasonable in assuming this is more a statement for higher level men? I mean, my previous statement agreeing that one would stand out in tails wasn't intended as a statement for or against it. Just that with the trends being what they are right now, one would likely be the only guy out there on the floor wearing them. Being a baby dancer myself, the whole "you'd best be able to pull it off" argument makes intuitive sense to me, but again. Baby dancer, not really qualified for an opinion.

    (I'll note that this is an entirely hypothetical question on my part. I imagine that for Vol State, at least, I'll be just going with a vest to keep costs down. Well, ok, I'll wear a shirt, pants, shoes and tie as well. ;))
  18. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Then I think we are talking at cross-purposes, since I don't think they are "inappropriate" per se. Personally I dislike tails in Smooth, and I would advise someone who is unsure to go with a plain Smooth suit. But if someone likes tails in Smooth, that's their preference, and it's not "inappropriate".

    Perhaps what I'm disagreeing with here is the idea that disliking tailsuits in Smooth somehow makes someone a "baby".

    Your posts suggest that the only reason current dancers dislike tails in Smooth is because they're unaware that it was the norm in the past, and that they're making "beginner observations" and have "baby eyes". But it's entirely possible to know all about the past norms and still think "tails look awkward" and "wouldn't sit well." Or that they "look out of place," since most other dancers will be in Smooth suits.

    But perhaps I am reading it wrong - as is so often the case online :)
  19. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member


    Smooth is all the poorer because of the trend to ditch tails.

    There is elegance lost when one takes the floor in a plain suit, a sleeve-less tails, or insert-your-current-outrageous-trend-here.

    Wearing something of severe sartorial excitement (as blue or orange suits, etc) when your lady partner is elegantly coiffed and dressed in this beautiful queenly gown is disgraceful, and almost profane.

    It is quite analogous to going to a state dinner or a high-end elegant dinner date wearing shorts and black socks--and thinking it looks good.

    It makes her look like her partner is a dandy, and even more so, a sad comic.

    You might as well wear a suit a la decoupage.

    Personally, I reserve the zany for Latin and the madness for Rhythm.

  20. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    interesting...while I had a loathing for the sleeveless tails, and while I also find very few vests to be smart looking (some, but very few), I prefer the look of a basic suit to a tailsuit in smooth as a matter if differentiating it from standard and just in terms of how I envision the style aesthetically....just as I can abide a smooth ladies in dresses that are less conservative and find that more true to the freedom of the style (though I am not a fan of smooth dresses that resemble latin dresses)

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