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Sunday, 22 June 2008

Dancing: so simple, yet so complicated

Dancing with a woman you've never partnered before is often interesting and the local Ceroc venue attracts a wide and ever changing variety of people. Some are complete beginners who have never done any sort of dancing before. Others may be experienced in a number of dance forms - but not this one.

The complete beginners are a bit of a lottery. Some learn incredibly quickly. Others don't get beyond a very basic level even after years. Perhaps the most interesting are those who get the idea of "following" really early. If a woman will follow, there's loads of moves possible even though she doesn't know them.

The women from other dance genres are often great because they know about following although their response to a lead may be coloured by their background. So something totally unexpected may result. I don't worry too much - just watch what she does with interest and pick up at some suitable point. Often her interpretation of the move will "work" well enough. I know some men like to stop and show how to do it "right" but she will pick that up soon enough in the class and if the dance is flowing, why stop?

As for the experienced women, some of them know all the moves but this is less useful than you might think. To over-simplify the problem there are more moves than there are different leads. So the initial lead doesn't reliably telegraph the whole move. What works better is if they expect the man to lead all the way through a move. They make no assumptions about what the complete move is going to turn out to be.

Then there are some moves that simply cannot be led in an unambiguous way. They may be taught in the classes but hardly anyone uses them out on the dance floor without prior agreement.

However, the best dances are when you don't have to think about any of this. When I dance with "Annie" she instinctively knows about a dozen different moves that will fit any particular lead. And will very subtly steal the lead so you hardly notice. Doubtless, she's dangerously effective in Real Life!

Or "Karen" who some men might describe as being built for comfort rather than speed. They're so wrong about the speed! There's nothing like a really fast number such as "Rock Around the Clock" to show how she can move!

And sometimes you share something nearer the edge. I'm thinking now of "Cathy", a beautiful woman who definitely wants firm handling. I've never tried to find her limits but the more roughly you dance with her, the happier she is. As she seeks me out and asks for dances I think I'm reading it right.


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