Leading the Way

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The studio does their parties on Thursday night and sometimes it confuses me because I associate parties with the weekend so I woke up thinking it was Saturday.

The party did provide a couple of interesting moments relating to lead/follow. When I’m social dancing with a newer student, I do tend to stick to more basic steps. If things are going well, I’ll try something a little more advanced to see how it works but I’m not the type to just force someone through a step because its something I want to do. I think most people just enjoy being on the floor and moving to the music so the particular step or pattern doesn’t matter as much.

Leading and following are both skills and I think they sometimes get pushed aside when the focus is on steps and patterns. It requires some balance because you want the signal to be strong enough so the follower is clear on what you want. But you also don’t want it to be overpowering so they feel like they are being dragged through a step.

I was dancing with one newer dancer and she was a little more independent – kind of enjoying the music and doing her own thing. So I was maybe a little more assertive than I would typically be and she made a comment about liking the way I lead the step.

Later I was dancing with another newer dancer who was a little more willing to follow. At one point, she made a comment about how gentle the lead was but that she knew what I wanted her to do. She was actually a bit shocked that I was able to do this. I suspect she’s been dragged through things before.

To be clear, I’m not perfect and that isn’t what I was trying to imply here. The more I do this, the more I understand the importance of leading and what it is and what it isn’t. If you’re going to invest in lessons, make sure to spend time learning about leading – through the body and not the arms. I think it makes for a more pleasant dance experience for everyone.

One funny note from last night. Two people brought their kids along. A boy and a girl both about nine or ten. Several times during the evening, they would end up “dancing” together. I use dancing a little loosely but they were holding hands and moving. See guys, it is never too early to start dancing.

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