I seem to be on an “advice for beginners” roll this week, maybe because I am always interested in sucking new people into the ballroom world. Especially when those people are my friends. Extra-especially when they’ve been saying for years that they plan to start lessons, RIMA. (and also CRYSTAL.)
Our friend & instructor Paula East recently sent me a few thoughts about leading and how to approach a new partner:
“How many times have I heard a lady dancer complain about a male dancer with whom she just finished dancing their first dance together. ‘I had no idea what he wanted me to do. He just started doing all those crazy moves.’
“Gentlemen, believe me, the secret is to keep things simple until you know what the lady can do. If she does not follow a step you are trying to lead, it is for two reasons. Either you don’t know how to lead it or it was beyond her level and she couldn’t follow it. In either case you are to blame.
“One more point, I may observe a couple dancing intricate and advanced steps together and because of this I may put her into a higher category of dancing. Looking good with a regular partner is not always an indicator of how good a leader the gentleman dancer is. Those two dancers know each other so well that they are not really leading and following any longer but are executing a personal routine. I would still use the same procedure outlined above if I were ever to dance with her for the first time.
“The bottom line is always: Make your first dance a pleasant experience for both and other dances are likely to follow.”
I can attest that Paula’s advice is correct. With Daniel, I can pull off some complex moves because we dance together so much that I know his lead extremely well. With someone new it’s a lot easier to get lost. So, guys: resist the temptation to show off with unknown ladies!