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Social Dance Tips

One of the most important parts of social dancing is knowing your job and sticking to it! Below is a copy of the handout we provide during our Leading & Following 101 lesson.  Following these guidelines will make your learning and practicing time an enjoyable experience for both you and you partner.

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Social Dance Tips

Social Dance Tips for Couples

  • Dance with your partner, not at them. Social dancing is about teamwork, not stealing the spotlight.
  • It’s ok to mess up. You will make mistakes. When you do, regroup & start again. Don’t assign blame and never make corrections in the middle of the dance floor.
  • Do your job, not your partner’s. Leaders lead, Followers follow. Period.
  • Stand up straight and carry your own weight. Shoulders back, tummy tucked in, head tall. Don't make your partner hold you up.
  • Communicate! Congratulate the successes and try to work out the oopies. Tell your partner what you need from them without pointing fingers. Be proud of each other!
  • Maintain eye contact and smile at each other. You like each other, right? If not, maybe you need a different partner!
  • Always remember: DANCING IS FUN! Learning to move together as one body means give and take, good communication, and patience. When it starts to get tense give each other a hug and remember why you are here!

Social Dance Tips for Leaders

  • Reach out and touch your partner – If you are afraid to touch them, you cannot lead them properly.
  • Think ahead – You must know which move you are going to do before you do it. Think it through, then prep and execute.
  • Communicate with confidence – Be strong and consistent in your lead. A wishy-washy lead is impossible to follow and tempting to correct. Followers want to know that they are in good hands so take the lead!
  • Be alert – If your Follow is going to let you guide them you need to make sure they are 100% safe on the dance floor.  Watch where you are going!
  • Make it a thrill – Your job is to make your partner shine. Treat your Follow like a queen!

Social Dance Tips for Followers

  • Follow, follow, follow!  Don’t lead – No matter how tempting it is, it is not your job to lead. When you backlead, you undermine your partner's lead and give them the message that they are incompetent. Trust your Leader and let them do their job!
  • Listen, don’t anticipate – Let your Leader tell you what to do and when to do it.  Don’t try to predict the next move. If you had to guess what the lead was, it was not a good lead, but following it tells your Leader that it was (because it worked!) Don't "help" your Leader by following a bad lead.
  • Don’t be a backseat driver – It’s just as distracting on the dance floor as it is in the car. If you need or want something, ask while practicing, not dancing.
  • Be patient with your partner. The Leader has to do far more thinking on the floor than you do. Be patient. Don't push.
  • Provide a good frame – No matter how good the lead is, you won’t receive it if you have spaghetti-arms. Maintain your dance space, make a good connection, put weight in your partner's hands, and give them something to hold on to.
  • Enjoy the ride – Put yourself completely in your partner’s hands and trust their lead. Relax, and enjoy yourself!

(adapted from The Swing Book by Degen Pener)


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