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FELLAS, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO MAKE THE LADY LOOK GOOD

COMMENTS ON THE "GROUP" OR "BIRTHDAY" DANCE, AND PARTNER DANCING IN GENERAL

by Steve Shaw
Founder & Co-Host
www.SalsaNewYork.com
Email -  Salsa@nyc.rr.com 
 




"FELLAS, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO MAKE THE LADY LOOK GOOD" -
 
That's what Eddie Torres always used to tell us in class when we loaded the ladies up with too many turn patterns, dancing off timing, or jerky rough leads.  And to say this another way, paraphrasing the words of instructor & performer Milton Cobo,  the man should aim to satisfy his partner on the dance floor.  Whether she is a beginner, intermediate, or advanced dancer, he should make sure that when the song is over she is fulfilled.
 

 

The Group Dance -  Obviously, this applies when one couple is dancing.  The man should make the lead smooth and flowing, and in time with the music.  But the worst situation we often see is when several men are taking turns dancing with one woman.  This happens spontaneously at mambo events and is traditional for birthday dances.  What often happens is that the woman is being used like a rag doll or punching bag while the guys compete with each other to show off their latest & most difficult moves.  Often, the guys start cutting in on each other aggressively in the middle of a measure/bar, grabbing the woman roughly and off timing, with no attempt to smooth her transition from one partner to another.  This is just bad dancing.  It is male self indulgence & competition at its worst, and it is completely disrespectful to the woman.

 
This last Sunday at Jimmy Anton's Latin Sundays Social, I was fortunate to be a part of one of these "group dances" that was done the right way.  The woman was Ivana Bochinska, a wonderful dancer who is smooth, graceful and very feminine.  She is a former performer with Jai & Candy's   Estilo Clasico Dance Company (currently with the Santo Rico Dance Company).  In addition to me, the men were Milton Cobo, Eric Baez, Patrick Morris, and Tamambo, an instructor from England and director of the Salsa With Atti-Tude Dance Company.  What made this group dance "right" is that Ivana was always the star of the dance, and the changes from one partner to another were made within the timing of the music and the turn pattern being done by the previous male partner.  Sure there was a bit of competition going on as well as the occasional screw-up of the lead, but we all were trying to make Ivana's dance a good one.  And that made it fun for everyone....including the many spectators! 
 
The experience made me think of the many group dances I've watched over the years, and how some are so nice and other are so bad.  So here are some guidelines for you fellas when more than one guy dances with the same woman.
 
 

Pay Attention To The Lady -  When just 2 people dance, we pay attention to our partner and help her enjoy the song.  When 5 or 10 guys dance with the same partner, we STILL should pay primary attention to our partner and help her enjoy the song.  What makes the group dance harder is that we are also paying attention to the other guys, but our FIRST responsibility as good dancers is STILL to fulfill our partner, and that's the woman.  Let's face it, these group dances usually involve some competition between some the guys:  who has the fanciest turn patterns, who can impress the woman or the crowd the most, who gets the first & last turn with her, etc.  But remember, the competition is not the most important part of the dance.  You are not dancing with those other guys.  Most importantly, you are dancing with a woman, she is your partner, so pay attention to her first & foremost.
 

 

When & How To Cut In -  Don't fight with the other guys for dance time with the woman.  Don't cut in aggressively or out of synch with what the other guy is doing, or out of timing with the music.  There is a proper time to cut in.  It's not just any time you want.  It's almost always on the 1st beat of the measure, and occasionally on the 5th beat.  It's when the other guy does something with his turn pattern that gives you an opening to SMOOTHLY pick up the woman.  The easiest moment is just after a cross body lead, but other points may work equally smoothly.  Often the guy dancing with the woman signals the next guy to cut in by looking at him or tapping him with his hand.  Most importantly, the transition from one guy to another should be SMOOTH for the lady.  In fact, it should almost be as if it were the same lead, as if by the same man.  For example, the man dancing gives her a cross body lead and is holding her right hand with his left hand.  The new partner smoothly steps in beside her, placing his right hand behind her back on 6, 7, smoothly takes her right hand replacing the other guy's left hand, and smoothly leads her into a cross body lead on 1.  She should hardly notice the change from one partner to another.
 

 

Take Turns Fairly -  "Don't fight with the other guys for dance time with the woman" means wait your turn.  If there are 8 guys, let the other 7 have their turns before you cut in again.  Also, let the guy dancing with the woman have some time with her, not just 1 or 2 bars.  He should not have to be "dancing defensively" to keep you away just so he can have enough time to connect, do a few turns and cross body leads and, most importantly, pay some attention to her.  Give them some time & space.  And on the other side, don't hog her once you get her.  The group dance is about sharing equally and respecting each other's time with the lady.  Keep it fair.  Keep it graceful.  Keep it smooth.  Keep her enjoying the dance.

 
And when the dance is over, make sure she walks away fulfilled!
 
 

Ladies, Don't Take It Anymore -  I've seen some ladies let the guys know quite clearly when they don't like how they're being treated on the dance floor.  But many of you just stay quiet and suffer with bad timing, rough or aggressive leads, crazy turn patterns, too many turn patterns, and partners who are more into themselves than into you.  For those of you who just stay quiet, let me say this:  Don't take it anymore.  Whether it's dancing with one partner or several partners, you have every right to tell a partner if you don't like what he's doing.  Believe me, it happens to all of us guys from time to time, and we will not be destroyed....nor will we get destructive.  It may be uncomfortable for a few moments for us, but hopefully we will eventually learn to improve our dancing if a woman tells us we're doing something unpleasant.  So ladies, you have the right to tell a guy to stop doing something that you don't like, or to tell him to lead more smoothly or gently, or to cut you loose, etc.  And if he doesn't, then just walk off the dance floor!  Believe me, you will get plenty of support from everyone around you.....including us guys.

Steve Shaw
Email -  Salsa@nyc.rr.com

Copyright 2001 Steve Shaw

 


Other Articles By Steve Shaw - "Doc Salsa":

How To Get More Partners - Overcoming Fear Of Dancing - Tough Talk

Definition of Dancing On 2 - Technique - How To Learn - The Music

Guidelines For Mambo DJs - List Of Good Mambo & Cha Cha Songs

How To Put On A Successful Salsa Dance Event

The Story Of SalsaNewYork.com - How It Came About

Fellas, You Are Supposed To Make The Lady Look Good

Cyber Interview Of Doc Salsa

DJ Steve Shaw "Doc Salsa" - Resume & Contact Information

How To Make & Care For A CD For Performing
 


 


 

ENTIRE WEB SITE      Main Menu Alphabetical Index 

Google search this site:  

STEVE'S DANCERS' GUIDE      Mambo Events Calendar More Salsa Info Our Dance & Music Other Latin Events & Places Performers
MANNY'S DANCERS' MAGAZINE      Magazine Home Latest Salsa News New Articles Mambo Instructors Articles

 

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