Hello leaders! Some time ago, I had written a blog entry entitled “The Golden Rules of Following”. This entry was centered around tips for dance follows- from connection to timing and everything in between. This time around, I would like to focus on ways in which LEADERS can truly up their social dance game and be delightful partners on the dance floor. So without further ado, here we go!
Leaders, before you can properly execute an intricate pattern, it is of utmost importance to understand timing and which beat you are stepping on. Every dance has it’s own unique timing. When you’re first starting out, it will be difficult to decipher when to step or sometimes even what style of dance music is playing! Don’t get frustrated, though, if it doesn’t come naturally right away. It takes practice and ear training to begin to understand timing. My best advice? Play music! When you’re by yourself at home or in your car, listen to any type of dance music- be it salsa, swing, waltz, cha-cha, etc. Keep listening to different styles until you can begin to hear the difference between one and another. Then, try to find the “1”. This is also known as the “downbeat” and is the first beat when dancers usually begin their steps or turns.
For many dancers, timing is often the trickiest part when first starting out. So don’t be hard on yourself. Practice makes perfect!
This one, I can not stress enough. Make your partner feel safe. In a social dance environment, probably THE most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings and environment. It does not matter how skilled you are as a leader if your partner is at risk of getting bumped into or stepped on. Ask yourself, “Are there any dancers coming towards us or in close vicinity?” or “Is it a good moment to move my partner across the dance floor?” By ensuring your partner’s safety, you will absolutely stand out as a leader and be delightful to dance with!
3. Quality (not Quantity)
I always say, it is better to know how to do 4-5 moves VERY well (rather than knowing 10-15 moves but not necessarily being able to execute them properly). There are a couple of reasons why. One, feeling confident and secure in the step you are leading will help your partner have a much more comfortable experience. And two, remember that you’ll be dancing with all different levels! There are many beginner followers who only know how to dance a few basic moves. It is never comfortable for a follower if she/he feels overwhelmed or confused by dance moves that are too complicated. By mastering the basics, not only will you look even better on the dance floor, but you will be sure to make your partner feel good also!
4. Have Fun!
Finally, remember to enjoy the experience! What is impressive to a follower ISN’T how many cool moves you know- it is how you make your partner FEEL. Enjoy the connection with every person you dance with. Admire each partner for who she/he is! The most enjoyable partners I’ve ever danced with were the ones who just simply had fun and made each and every partner feel safe and appreciated.