Friday Night Reset

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First, before I get started, I’m going to plug the new Facebook page Stef created for the Ballroom Village.  If you haven’t checked out the Ballroom Village links on my page (and I know some of you have!), you can also find some of them on this new Facebook page.  There will be other related content there as well and it is all only a click away!

Ballroom Village Facebook

If I figure it out, I will try to link relevant posts to the page.  My blog is mostly about Ballroom but I tend to veer into other things every now and again.

When last we left, I was in the midst of a self-induced funk related to continuing cold, grey weather and my latest disaster of a lesson.  It is still cold and grey so that hasn’t improved but I’m discovering the my Friday night dance dates are great therapy.  I’m able to have a little fun.  I do have fun at the Famous Franchise but there is something nice about just being able to dance in front of people who haven’t seen or heard my latest lesson malfunction.

Don’t get me wrong, my twin friends of doubt and insecurity (maybe they are identical twins) are still with me.  As I’m dancing I’m still telling myself “Your frame is not good”  “Are your abs engaged”  “Is your head up and over your right heel” “Are you sure you’ve got the timing down”.  It is just that they become background noise and are much less of a problem since I’m just there to have some fun.

It was kind of funny but late in the party, one of the other ladies comes over to tell Hilde she’s stealing me for a dance.  As it turns out, Hilde had to leave about 15 minutes before the thing ended so we were on our last dance.  She told me I was in high demand and I brought up my idea of auctioning off my dances.  We’ve got a waltz, what’s the opening bid?  OK, I know it is just dancing, but it is still nice to feel wanted.  Don’t worry, it won’t puff my ego up too much.  It is more a reflection of the other options than of my own skill set.

The interesting thing about dancing with ladies from this other studio is that we don’t quite speak the same language.  This is part of the reason why I don’t often mention names of steps because the Famous Franchise makes up their own names.  There are certainly things that are common to all – like open breaks and such, so it is more like the difference between British English and American English.  “You take the life to the fifth floor” “Lift?  Don’t you mean elevator”  “No I mean the lift, don’t you speak English”  “No I speak American”.   (And let’s not talk about trucks vs lorries)

There was one part of the waltz where the lead I’m used to wasn’t quite what she was used to so she told me about how she expects the lead.  A couple of the steps I was doing in East Coast Swing weren’t ones she was familiar with but we made it work.

I don’t know how else to describe this but she was really, really happy to be dancing with me.  Giddy comes to mind but I kind of hate that word.  Yes, the folks at the Famous Franchise are happy to dance with me and certainly Hilde is as well but this was a little different.  I started picking up on that.  I’ve read that INFP can reflect other people’s emotions.  Its a strange concept but the theory is that we get an intuitive read on how someone feels and then we dig within ourselves to pull out the same type of emotion.  I’m pretty sure that was going on here because, even when I was messing things up, we were just laughing about it.  And not the nervous laugh to cover up a screw up but a real laugh because the situation was just fun.

This is the upside to having emotional amplifiers that go to 11 (which makes them better).  When I start tumbling down the rat hole, the amplifiers work against me and it is hard to pull myself out.  But, I can also strongly feel really positive emotions and walk away super happy and excited from an event.  And, the mental reset of doing that truly helps.

Lastly, there were a couple of things last night that I want to stitch together with respect to lead/follow.  In the group class before the party, we were doing a whole bunch of crazy arm stuff with the lady circling around the guy.  The instructor was all about how the ladies had to relax their arms and essentially give control to the guy.  Later, at the party, I was doing a swing step that is four backward steps and my partner was looking over her shoulder to make sure nobody was back there.  Now, I’m not going to try that step unless I have some clue that nobody is in my way so I do a little check before going into it but she hasn’t danced with me enough to know that.

But both things really point to trust and how much the ladies really have to trust those of us who are leading.  With the arm thing, you have to trust that we aren’t going to yank your arms out of the sockets so I imagine it can be hard to totally give up control to someone in a group class who you don’t know that well.  But this extends to almost everything because the lady is moving backwards and isn’t going to know what is back there.  It is the leaders job to keep the lady safe by navigating the floor and adjusting as needed to make sure there are no collisions.  It is also the leaders job to provide a strong clue as to what is coming next so the lady doesn’t have to think about it.  Both of those would require some (maybe a lot) of trust.  Does this guy really know what he’s doing?  Is he going to run me into another couple?  The first maybe a little more than the second but a leader who is too tentative isn’t going to inspire trust.  It would be like a navigator who says things like “You go about 3-5 miles down this road and then I think you take a left and then there are 2 or 3 intersections and then I think it is a right turn”.  You want to follow that??  And trust is going to vary from person to person.  I’ve danced with lades I’ve just met who follow like a dream and there are ladies at the Famous Franchise who I’ve danced with for years who still battle me up and down the dance floor.  OK, there’s no big point to any of this.  It was just two random observations from last night that I wanted to try and knit into a bigger point.


  1. Wall – About those ladies who “battle you up and down the floor.” Following has been hard for me, particularly up until the last year or so. I suspect my problems with balance had a lot to do with that, along with my tendency to concentrate on the pattern instead of the actual lead. Anticipating is absolute death to a good follow, and It was very hard to break that habit. In the course of interacting with folks outside the Famous Franchise (while collecting interviews for Thinner, Fitter), I learned that the FF is widely criticized for emphasizing patterns, especially esrly on, over proper lead and follow technique. There is also dance compatibility. I’ve come to believe that’s a real thing. I know I can follow a given leader very easily, and consequently see him or her as a “good” lead, while another follow would have a different experience with the same person. Anyway, consider taking a few lessons as a follow. You’ll learn a lot, guaranteed.

    1. Marian – Totally agree with you on dance compatibility (and the FF). I was kind of getting there through trust but it is the same general idea. I know I have enough trust issues that I’d be a disaster as a follow.

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