Am I a Dance Snob?

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So, I’m reading a post on this site danceplace.  I would provide a link but they’ve got a very professional site with what looks to be a little community and I’m just the guy driving the beat up pick up truck.  OK, that was kind of bad mixed metaphor but hopefully you get the gist.  One does not simply link to a nicer looking blog.  From the articles I’ve read, there is a lot about social dancing and trying to make sure the experience is welcoming and inclusive for all which is why I believe the author wrote the piece.

The article in question was sort of a response to an article on a different blog that the author took exception to.  There is a link to that one on the danceplace site if you are so inclined.  Having read both, I think they are closer then the danceplace author thinks but the package made me think.

The gist of the first article was that there are certain dances where technique is very important.  For those who are into those dances and have heavily invested the time and money in learning the technique, it can be difficult to dance with a less experienced person.  I think the author was making the point that it is OK to be a bit of a snob in these cases because you learn by doing and if your partner doesn’t respond because they don’t know how, then you really aren’t learning anything.  They did finish by saying you shouldn’t be rude.

I think the objections were more around comments made to people who might complain about being snubbed at a dance.  The first article was not very sympathetic and essentially left the impression that those who complain should invest the effort into improving their technique.  This seems to be what the danceplace blogger found most objectionable.  They allowed that it would be OK to seek out more advanced dancers in certain situations but that you shouldn’t be exclusive.  There was also a point made about advanced dancers paying it back because we were all awkward beginners at one point and yet people still danced with us.

To be clear, I absolutely love dancing with real beginners.  I love dancing but the quote I had in my last post was spot on about there just being those fleeting moments.  When you have higher goals and aspirations for your dancing, you start to realize how much you don’t know.  It is so often all stick and no carrot.  You push that rock up hill and maybe even get some bit of technique and then the rock rolls back down the other side of the hill and you start all over again.  The real beginners don’t know what they don’t know.  Most of them are in that “gee whiz, this is so much FUN” stage.  They haven’t yet realized how much work dance can be and how much it will demand of you.  There is an innocence there that is reflected in their eyes as you move around the floor.  No, I love that.

But there are ladies I do try to avoid at parties and groups.  Yes, I’ll admit that.  The post in danceplace asks the rhetorical question “is it really that hard to spend a song or two with that person?”  Well, yes, it is.  They do allow that if someone is a dangerous dancer (which they explain in another post), then it is acceptable to say ‘no’.  There is one lady in particular I’m thinking of who doesn’t quite fit into the dangerous dancer category.  The closest she comes to is the nervous one who course corrects when you aren’t expecting it.

The one thing I will say about technique is that I’m seriously trying to learn to keep my posture up and my frame wide and my head back and to look left most of the time.  This is a great position for competitive dancing or Showcase but it ain’t very social.  But, unless you’ve got a dance partner, when else do you get to practice but at parties or groups?  So there is a part of me that says I should dance with Kid T and Sunny as often as possible.  There are other reasons as well.  If I’m going to be doing big dance events with Kid T, then every dance we do outside of a lesson is just more time to get comfortable with the partnership and there are real benefits to doing that.  Besides, lessons are expensive so why not take advantage of these free chances?  So there are times when I’ve come down harder on that side.

But the article made me think and it is a bit selfish to be thinking that way.  We all dance for different reasons.  For some, technique isn’t as important as just getting out and moving to the music with people you like.  I guess there can be some balance.  I can use my dances with Kid T and Sunny to laser focus on technique and head position and not be as concerned about those things with others.  And I can spread myself out a little more.  After all, if someone grabs me at the end of the night and tells me I owe them a dance, then it was clear I was too limited in my selection.

Guess the article did it’s job to make me think.  Am I a snob?  No, but I might have been headed in that way.  So we course correct at the next party.  But I’m still going to avoid the one lady who I consider to be dangerous.


  1. I don’t go to many social dances anymore, but when I do go, I use them as practice. Even Teacher has told me that if I go, he doesn’t care if the person I’m dancing with has a sloppy frame or whatever, I should still maintain and hold my own. Of course, it looks and feels weird if I were to go full-competition-technique with a guy who just likes to social dance. But I’ll still focus on something technique-related, like keeping my core engaged or holding my frame up. Sometimes I even just focus completely on my connection with the person, especially if it’s someone I haven’t danced with before, to see how well I can follow them simply by maintaining proper connection. There’s always that one “dangerous” person that you end up avoiding though, haha! I think of it as self-preservation!

  2. I mentioned once that competitive ballroom and social ballroom are two sides to the same coin, and you really can’t get the most out of either experience if you only do one or the other. In my opinion, for people who dance the lead part (like you and I), there is an important skill that competitive dancers desperately need that they can really only work on improving by going out social dancing: floorcraft.

    I spend a lot of time around dancers of all calibers, and there are a lot of professionals that I have watched dance that are constantly running into people on the floor, and have no regard for the other competitors out there. I have watched people whom I would consider high-level dancers fall during a Viennese Waltz heat in a competition. If all you do is drill routines and technique all the time, how do you adjust for something like that without losing your cool? How does a follower learn to trust the leader when he has to break routine if they spend their lessons only doing the same figures in the same order over and over again? What happens if you go to a competition and there are twenty other couples on the floor, and your routine doesn’t work at all because of the density of the crowd? Can you scrap the routine entirely and re-order all the figures in it? Can you start your routine on the short wall instead of the long wall with only a few moments of thought? And will your partner look at you with terror if you suddenly decide to do that, since she never practiced doing either of those before?

    Floorcraft isn’t something someone can teach you – you really have to work it out for yourself and (pardon the bad pun) learn to think on your feet. So I really believe that social dancing is an important piece of the ballroom dancing puzzle. If you level up your floorcraft skill, you can easily avoid all those dangerous people/obstacles on the floor in an elegant manner and make it look effortless.

    My $0.02, so take it for what it’s worth. 🙂

    1. That seemed like just a little more than two cents. 🙂 But you make a very good point. I certainly get my share of floorcraft practice at those parties which is always helpful.

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