"Women Have No Choice But to do the Right Thing"

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
two leaders showed great people-smarts when one of the said, "help me out" and the other one said, "let me lead it" before we began.
In a similar fashion people who are following can show people smarts by asking if their partner had any idea why something wasn't working / didn't feel right, etc.

This discussion has me thinking a lot about the differences between approaches to teaching / learning between / among different dance genres.
 

RiseNFall

Well-Known Member
In a similar fashion people who are following can show people smarts by asking if their partner had any idea why something wasn't working / didn't feel right, etc.

This discussion has me thinking a lot about the differences between approaches to teaching / learning between / among different dance genres.
Yes, on both counts. I think all leaders in all genres would say that they can lead followers of all different levels, can find the right level, etc., but overall, in my experience, a random WCS leader is better at it than a random ballroom leader. I can think of many ballroom leaders, who I am very grateful to, who are excellent at dancing with followers of a variety of skill levels, but I have had many more unpleasant experiences at open ballroom social dances (as opposed to ones connected to a studio) than I have at WCS ones. It is NOT competitive ballroom dancers who I have had difficulties with, but guys who, oh, think they lead better than they do and blame the follower for anything that goes wrong. Generally speaking, grimacing at me during a dance sort of removes any enjoyment I might have gotten out of it. In a couple of cases, I hadn't been dancing very long, but a very experienced and good follower told me that she couldn't follow them either. The guys at the studio that I dance at are not like that and we have a lot of fun--the moves executed are not always exactly what they had in mind, but we wing it quite well. The WCS leaders, once more, as a group, seem a bit better at finding the correct level for me and capitalizing on what I do well. I've been very impressed by how nice they can make a dance. Once more, there are ballroom leaders who do also do that well, but then there are the black book ones that I avoid. (They don't want to dance with me either, so it's fine.)
 

IndyLady

Well-Known Member
Hmmm, I seem to have struck a nerve. Interesting.

I don't consider this to be "passive-aggressive." I call it, "Show, don't tell." If a lady can take two steps towards me with zero lead whatsoever, she's not following.
So, kind of like if your order is wrong at McDonald's, you just glare silently at the girl behind the counter and refuse to move until she figures it out, instead of saying "Excuse me, I ordered a Filet O'Fish, not a Big Mac"?

Followers, if you're in class/workshop learning a move, and the leader provides zero lead, what do you do? Do you walk through the move anyway? Or do you stand there and wait for a lead?

All of the best follows in my classes will do the latter. Not only is it indicative that they're paying attention to the lead, it also gives the leaders instant feedback about whether they're leading the move correctly.

How is Generalist's behavior different?
If we're supposed to be practicing it, and my lead just stands there like a cement block, then yes I might be inclined to practice the step myself. Unless I misunderstood the figure - and I am not familiar with WCS - Generalist deliberately did something that was *not* part of the step, which was to stop suddenly in order to teach someone a lesson. Also, if I am understanding correctly, this caused the woman to be up in his grill, practically cheek-to-cheek - that kind of forced personal space invasion strikes me as very rude. He could have just said something first if it was that big of a deal.

That sounds like a win-win for the lead. Either he teaches the follower to stop trying to lead herself, or he no longer has to deal with the follower asking him to dance. (Leads actively avoid followers who make this mistake during social dancing.)
So one missed anchor has been extrapolated into "she doesn't know how to follow"? Generalist indicated that this was a common issue among many newbies.

Which would you find more embarrassing, being corrected in this manner, or having every decent lead avoid dancing with you socially, because they find it unpleasant?
I recognized that you can be stuck between a rock and a hard place when you want to "fix" something that someone is doing wrong. I'm generally in the camp of "let it go", unless, as I stated before, it is making the step impossible or unreasonably difficult. And again, if it's such a problem that you feel the need to rectify it, start by "using your words". You don't have to be mean or condescending about it, but it should be the first option prior to trying to teach someone a lesson by asserting your physicality.

I fully believe that I can lead a follower through 90%+ of my repertoire if she has good connection. But if a woman has such poor connection that she's coming forward without a lead, I can't even lead her through the basics correctly.

Let's turn this around. If a leader yanks you around, can't keep the beat and doesn't let you settle on your anchor, are you going to feel bad if he stops asking you to dance after you correct him? Or are you going to feel relieved?
I think some patience with beginners and a little bit of humility might be in order here. And you might take notice that a number of (presumably) seasoned follows here do not seem to be fans of the "show, don't tell" correction method.
 

IndyLady

Well-Known Member
I recognized that you can be stuck between a rock and a hard place when you want to "fix" something that someone is doing wrong. I'm generally in the camp of "let it go", unless, as I stated before, it is making the step impossible or unreasonably difficult. And again, if it's such a problem that you feel the need to rectify it, start by "using your words". You don't have to be mean or condescending about it, but it should be the first option prior to trying to teach someone a lesson by asserting your physicality.
Just to clarify - in a group class setting, where everyone is trying to learn something, I would give a little more leeway to trying to "help" your partner if it seems warranted. In a social party setting - if it doesn't work, just let it go and don't try to lead it more than twice if it's not working. It's going to be all over in about two minutes anyway.
 

cornutt

Well-Known Member
I think some patience with beginners and a little bit of humility might be in order here. And you might take notice that a number of (presumably) seasoned follows here do not seem to be fans of the "show, don't tell" correction method.
Absolutely granted that if we don't make it a point to be generally patient with newbies, we will soon run out of dancers. Having said that, as I understand it, the situation we are talking about was an intermediate class where the newbie had no business being. An experience I've had: While traveling, I went to an intermediate waltz class at a studio I had not been to before. Everyone in the class except me and one follow was coupled up and there was no rotating, so I was stuck with this one follow for the duration of the class. And unfortunately, this one follow was a raw newbie who had no knowledge of American silver waltz and only knew a bit of bronze. So instead of getting the intermediate instruction that I had paid for, I got to spend the class trying to teach her how to do the open natural and reverse turns. And since she had no understanding of promenade or fallaway, the whole class was a wrestling match. I tried like heck to be on my best behavior for the hour, and she seemed to have a good time although it escapes me what part of it she found enjoyable. But for me, it was not even slightly fun.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
One reason I have my opinion on this is that I know West Coast Swing. Not being familiar with it might lead you to have a different perspective.

The woman is supposed to walk forward two steps as the man steps back one step. This is followed by further compression until the man moves forward creating enough compression to signal her to move backwards. (some might be considered "beyond basic," but there it is.)
So, it should be normal for the man to block the woman's path, and for the woman to be in the man's face.
If someone forgot to do their anchor step, which takes two counts of music, and instead came back into me on those two counts. I would possibly say, "That's an interesting variation!"
 
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IndyLady

Well-Known Member
I know we're way off topic here, but just for my edification: is the anchor step the last triple, right before the "walk-walk"? I know the basic step but not so much the terminology.

Re beginners in intermediate/advanced classes: believe me, been there done that - it's one of the reasons I don't do groups anymore - but I think that's an issue you have to address with the instructor, not take it out on the dancer who's in over his/her head (but may not realize it). Trust me, I get that it's frustrating when someone won't follow your lead (because I have done some leading myself - DH and I actually checked out of some of the school figures "reverse lead/follow") - but I still fall on the side of assuming oblivious incompetence over malice and maintaining relationships with your fellow students over winning the battle to get an exactly correct follow. i.e. Go Diplomacy!
 

twnkltoz

Well-Known Member
If you really had to say something because you couldn't lead her, perhaps something like, "could you please wait until I lead you forward to step? otherwise it's difficult to be able to lead you through this properly." instead of a passive-aggressive move followed by a snarky remark.

Not that I normally condone students correcting each other, but if it's so bad he can't lead her at all and then she's complaining that he's "not doing it right"...
 
Regarding - "Do you expect Generalist (or any other leader) to care?"

Well, it sure would be nice if the leaders cared about treating followers nicely.

But if you don't care, keep it up, and tell all your leader friends to do the same ... and see how many followers keep coming to the classes you go to. If there is enough of that attitude in a venue (a class, or a social dance), followers will stop coming back. You'll keep getting newbies for a while, but many won't stick around.
 
raindance,
Would you care if the worst leaders in your dance community suddenly quit? I have yet to see a leader/follower skip ahead before learning the fundamentals, then later develop into being a good (or even mediocre) dancer.

danceronice,
If a dancer is shameless enough to take an intermediate-level class when they can't do the most basic move correctly, then they could stand to experience a little embarrassment.

IndyLady,
I've never had the person at McDonald's screw up my order, then complain that I ordered it incorrectly. When the follower walks forward with zero lead, she can't complain that it's my mistake that made her do it.

The follower was practically dancing in place during the anchor. (That's why they're called anchors.) Without getting any lead from Generalist, she decided that she was going to move forward.

In WCS, it's perfectly acceptable for a leader to decide to finish the anchor, kill two beats in place, and then lead the follower forward in the walk-walk. It's the most common form of extension. It's also recommended if the follower is off-balance from the previous move (like a spin).

It's not acceptable for the follower to walk herself forward. Particularly if she does it ahead of the beat.

If she had been waiting until the beat to walk forward, Generalist wouldn't have noticed that she was doing it. Standing still only works when the leader knows the follower is going to make that mistake every single time.

Steve Pastor,
You're a lot more generous than me.
 

atk

Active Member
I am very impressed with your ability to diagnose the actions of two people at a social lesson from across the Internet. That's a skill I have yet to see from the best teachers.

Signature said:
I have yet to see a leader/follower skip ahead before learning the fundamentals, then later develop into being a good (or even mediocre) dancer.
Just how long have you been dancing again? Exactly how much of the world have you experienced in that time that makes your experience authoratative on the subject?

If a dancer is shameless enough to take an intermediate-level class when they can't do the most basic move correctly, then they could stand to experience a little embarrassment.
What, exactly, qualifies either you or Generalist to evaluate the correctness of someone else's actions? Have you been dancing for many years to the point where you can not only anticipate mistakes that newcomers make, but know the common successful and unsuccessful approaches taken to addressing them, the typical causes of those mistakes, and common successful and unsuccessful ways to accomodate such mistakes when social dancing?

I've never had the person at McDonald's screw up my order, then complain that I ordered it incorrectly. When the follower walks forward with zero lead, she can't complain that it's my mistake that made her do it.
Invalid comparison. Leading is not ordering a follower around it is a series of requests and responses. Your social follower is not there to serve you or because she is being paid for it.

Furthermore, how does any of us know that Generalist didn't unintentionally provide a lead for her to come forward? It is very common for leaders to give leads that they don't realize they are giving. Why should we believe Generalist is without fault?
 
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IndyLady

Well-Known Member
Invalid comparison. Leading is not ordering a follower aroundm it 8s a series of requests and responses. Your social follower is not there to serve you or because she is being paid for it.
The comparison was mine. The point I was trying to make (which was either missed or intentionally overlooked) was that it is better to speak up literally, i.e. verbally, if there is a problem that must be addressed, rather than using the silent treatment and expecting the other person to read your mind.

Furthermore, how does any of us know that Generalist didn't unintentionally provide a lead for her to come forward? It is very common for leaders to give leads that they don't realize they are giving. Why should we believe Generalist is without .
I believe that Generalist specifically stated that he intentionally stood still and did not give any lead. But I agree that I don't think G necessarily has the moral high ground here.


Truthfully, I think I would prefer a crappy lead to a lead with the level of impatience and intolerance for missteps that has been demonstrated in some of these posts. (And I have had the latter, as I have posted about in another thread).
 

danceronice

Well-Known Member
And I promise you, at least 50% of the time, at McDonald's (or whatever walk-up service restaurant you're at) errors in the order ARE your fault (and in the kitchen where you can't hear us, we're saying it out loud. Counter service/servers just aren't allowed to argue back in most places.)
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
I don't buy that....because...the server is supposed to repeat the order....half of the time they don't....and of the half of the time that they do repeat it, they either have it wrong or can't repeat the whole thing because they didn't get it down in the first place...and if you want to get me from zero to 100, go ahead and tell me that I don't know what I ordered....I won't say a word...but I won't be back...but I don't think any of that is the point....in both scenarios, it is incumbent on both parties, to show basic courtesy..and in both instances lack of that will decrease the likelihood of a future exchcange
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
then again, to get back on topic...that sort of thing is what happens between leads and follows...something goes wrong and everyone gets defensive...people are pretty pathetic that way
 

raindance

Well-Known Member
raindance,
Would you care if the worst leaders in your dance community suddenly quit? I have yet to see a leader/follower skip ahead before learning the fundamentals, then later develop into being a good (or even mediocre) dancer.
From a purely technical standpoint, the very worst leaders are newbies, since they just don't know anything yet. And any community needs lots of those so that the future long term dancers and good leaders (and followers) can have time to discover that dancing is for them and become good dancers. So no, I certainly don't want them to stop coming.

Beginner folks who think of themselves as intermediate already (e.g. going in the wrong class, or trying to learn a pattern above their level) can be an annoyance or hindrance, but it isn't my job to stop them from doing that, and it doesn't make me wish they'd leave the community altogether. Everyone has to dip their toe into intermediate stuff now and then to see if they are ready for it. After people have done beginner classes for "a while", they do feel more advanced than folks newer than them, and they are, so it is easy for them to think they must be intermediate "too soon." And what is expected in beginner vs intermediate classes can vary a lot from place to place anyway. So someone could politely take them aside rather than have every person they rotate to treat them badly.

The leaders that I wouldn't mind seeing drop out of the community are the ones that are rude or are painful to dance with. If they aren't willing to change, and they stopped coming, that would be OK with me.

To me and to many other followers from what I gather, blatantly correcting a follower in a class or on the social floor (even if she made the first mistake, or even if she was rude first) is rude. Being insistent that you are in the right for doing so is doubly rude. There are lots of other ways to be rude, but this is the one we're discussing here. If someone makes a mistake or appears rude, purposely being rude back them does not put you in the right.

By painful to dance with, I mean joint or muscle pain, not "ooh it is painful when someone dances off time or does some other technical error, like not following my lead that I am sure is perfectly clear". And painful to dance with is excusable if they are willing to try to modify things to try to make it more comfortable for the follower. Or if they are willing to politely accept a refusal from a follower (e.g. "I'm sorry my shoulder isn't really up for a hustle right now" gets the response of "OK, I hope you feel better" not an indignant "I am not going to hurt your shoulder, I just saw you dancing with someone else, so you have to agree to dance with me now")
 

Bailamosdance

Well-Known Member
If 'doing the right thing' involves 'knowing' what the choreography is supposed to look like, then this is beginner social dance, not real lead and follow.

Patterns are taught and studied to get movement into the bodies of the dancers.

True, dancers who only study one tempo or style dances will tend to,progress marginally faster and seem to look more,in the character of the dance since their bodies are worked more, but in a way the dancer who studies multiple partner movement will eventually have the leg up simply because their bodies will have more options.

Beginners who determine ability of others based on their knowledge can be taken very lightly, since they have not experienced or created 'fine' movements,
.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
it's perfectly acceptable for a leader to decide to finish the anchor, kill two beats in place, and then lead the follower forward in the walk-walk. It's the most common form of extension.
Honestly, I didn't know this was that widely known. I saw this most distinctly in one of the early WCS examples in dancing to Bill Haley's ROCK. It was used when the phrasing in the music was more obviously 8 count, and they went to 6 count moves when it wasn't that obvious.

You're a lot more generous than me.
I'm not always in that generous a mood, though. And it depends in part on previous behavior from that person.
I was just thinking about one woman in the Lindy Hop 2 hr class I had recently. She started things off by taking my hand that has behind her back (we were starting in closed position) and moved in higher on her back. In my book that is a very big no no. She did some other things throughout the 2 hrs to endear herself to me. She seems like she could be fun to dance with, but, ya know, there is the negative side which outweighs the good.

Let me repeat and/or broaden two points I've made previously. Anchoring in West Coast swing is something that should become very much the default and is something that should deeply reinforced in neural pathways. (Someone who has been dancing for years let me down almost literally when she failed to do this the other night - note to self - you have been spoiled by the occasional encounter with people who listen to the music and know what a good anchor is)
As to the particular incident being discussed, this brief moment should be considered along with all the other brief moments that happened in this class. And regarding it being "passive aggressive?" Only in the tv talk show or pop psychology article sense. I hope everyone reads the definition of this term which has in common usage been over broadened.
 

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