Dancing NO-NOs • A Fresh Look & Straight Talk: Bright Ideas, Gentle Reminders, & Good Suggestions for Building a Community
Dancing is great for your brain, great for your body, a fun, safe social activity, and an energizing pastime. With a few simple tips, you can make it the best it can be—for you, for your dance partners, and for the Vancouver dance scene.
Your mouth is close to your partner’s mouth when you’re dancing. Use mints! If you’re chewing gum that you started chewing hours before, thinking it’s got you covered, NO-NO, think again. Pockets, tiny mints, easy peasy!
When dancing with a new partner, just take a second to say, “Hi, my name is Joe.” (Only say the Joe part if your name is Joe.) It lets your partner know you’re engaged in the partnership, no matter how brief it might be. Just grabbing a partner and dragging them onto the floor is a NO-NO.
If your shirt is drenched with sweat, change it before asking your next partner to dance. Close holds are intimate, but getting your sweat on your partner is a NO-NO.
Women have come a long way in our world. They can and they do everything. Men, how about bringing back a little old-fashioned courtesy by asking them to dance? Don’t make them come to you. Right off the bat, they will think you’re awesome! (Tip: asking someone to dance goes like this: “Would you like to dance?” with a smile and an outstretched hand. It does not consist of an elbow nudge, a head flick towards the dance floor, and a grunt. Just saying. That would be a NO-NO.)
If you’re an advanced dancer and you ask a beginner to dance, should you:
- Dance at your level and show off your amazing skills?
- Dance at your partner’s level so the dance is fun and comfortable for them, and thereby enjoyable for both of you?
- Not ask them to dance?
Now, here are the answers:
- NO-NO. You’ll look selfish, inconsiderate, and like a show-off, which is not flattering to you at all! By making your partner look incompetent, you’ll look like a clown.
- Yes! If you make your partner look and feel good, you will look and feel good. Not every dance has to be a showcase for your abundant talent.
- Tsk tsk. NO-NO. Only dancers who think they’re better than they actually are choose this answer. Partner dancing is supposed to be an act of sharing, not a contest. Try it and see how great you’ll feel!
When you’re in a class or workshop and your partner isn’t doing what you think they should be doing, should you:
- Stop following the teacher’s instructions and correct your partner?
- Keep trying to lead or follow your partner as best you can until you manage to do the move?
- Call the teacher over to ask them to tell your partner they’re not doing the movement correctly?
- Leave the class because you’re too good to dance with people who don’t know what they’re doing?
- NO-NO-NO! Your job is to work with your partner to learn something new and to treat the lesson like a fun experience. Besides, are you so sure you’re not the one doing it wrong?
- Yes, of course! You might have a few laughs and learn something along the way. If not, you still have the laughs.
- Yes and no. Sure, ask the teacher, but don’t whine about your partner, just ask if there is something you’re not getting. At least half of the time, you’ll find out that your partner is fine and you’re the one with the problem.
- NO-NO. Go ahead if you want the Idiot of the Day award. This is such a social no-no, there is no excuse for it. Why make someone else feel bad when the problem is your vanity? Suck it up and be a good sport. Everyone can learn something new, but you have to open your mind to it. Sometimes, the lesson is just being a decent human being.
Take classes and workshops. The best dancers continue to learn and train throughout their entire dancing lives. Practice on the dance floor is not the same as taking lessons. If it has been awhile since you’ve had classes, chances are your basics are not as smooth as they could be and your movements or form may get a little sloppy. That’s a NO-NO.
If you attend many free or nearly free events and say you’re supporting the community, don’t kid yourself. Yes, it’s good to come out to events and participate. But events are only free (or almost) for you, not for the people hosting them. Events are expensive to host! If you sign up for classes and conferences, you can say you’re supporting the community. If not, be honest, we’re supporting you and that’s a NO-NO.
Before you launch into a complex, acrobatic move involving a lot of head rolls or crazy spins, dance a bit with your partner to see if they’re up to it. They may be capable, but just not interested in Cirque de Soleil movements. That doesn’t make them bad dancers. NO-NO. Some of the most impressive dancing is built from basic moves done beautifully.
Try something new. No matter how much you love a dance and your dance friends, at some point, you will realize that you are doing the same old thing with the same old people to the same old music. NO-NO. Expand your horizons. Cross the dance floor from your group and ask someone new to dance. Try a new dance style. Try classes with a new teacher. Grow.
Stop talking about your dance friends like they’re your “family.” It’s a NO-NO. We all have families, whether they’re average, dysfunctional, or absent. Family relationships are simply different than friendships and friendships are different than acquaintanceships. You can have all these kinds of relationships in your life and they can all be worthwhile, but recognize that they’re different and come with different obligations and rules of conduct.
If you really want to support your dance community, dance school, and dance event promoters, register and buy tickets early. This is the way organizations determine whether or not a project is feasible. Not everyone will have to make money on every project, but most of them can’t afford to lose money over and over. Step up, commit to your passion, be a frontrunner, not a last-minute NO-NO. There is no virtue in waiting for something “better” to come along.
Dancing does not have to be an endurance test. That’s a NO-NO. You can love to dance without going out dancing six nights a week (like if you have a job and/or a life that is more than just dance). If you attend a congress or festival, there is no need to dance for 12 hours every day. Quality is just as important as quantity. It’s not a demonstration of your devotion to the dance if you dance until your legs are swollen and your feet are bleeding. People who dance for a couple of hours when they can might love dance just as much as the competitive, obsessive, endurance dancers do. Don’t dismiss them as less committed than you are.
Being a cheapskate is a NO-NO. Almost everyone can afford to fund his or her own leisure activities. Don’t expect dance school and event promoters to subsidize your passion. If something has a fee for participating and you want to take part, pay it and stop whining. Buy a bottle of water for $2! If you’re strapped for cash, have a regular coffee instead of a latte every time you go to Starbucks. Cheapness is rarely related to a scarcity of funds. It’s usually a character flaw and it affects everything about you—your tolerance for differences, your generosity towards others, and your spirit. Don’t be this.
Looking down on the clothing choices of fellow dancers is a NO-NO. Some people like to wear short, form-fitting dresses and heels to dance. Some people prefer jeans and sneakers. Neither of these choices defines dancing ability and in a truly accepting community, all are just fine.
This has been tough, straight talk, but we hope you will understand that it comes from a good place. Vancouver is not well known as a place with a vibrant, exciting dance scene. We can change that by building a place that is an inclusive, generous, giving community to share dancing with friends and new people who just might be friends you haven’t met yet.