Once your dancing stabilizes in one role (leader/follower), you might consider learning the opposite role. West Coast Swing is increasingly encouraging of ambi-dance-terity, channeling the teamwork aspect of the partnership rather than the relationship aspect.
People venture here for a variety of reasons;
- There’s a gender/role imbalance at their local dance scene and they are tired of sitting out partnerless, or having to be aggressive to score a partner each song.
- They thrive on challenge
- They are curious what it feels like to be on the other end
- They recognize the feedback value of the discovering the other role’s perspective for improving their original role skill.
- They were compelled to learn the traditional gender role, but they actually have a preference for social dancing with a same-gender partner.
- They value ambi-dance-terity as a requirement in developing into a “complete” dancer.
- They are aspiring teachers and learn the opposite role out of necessity.
For me, I learned both roles very early on because I was trained to teach ballroom. But I never invested any time into leading WCS until apparently I started getting “too good” for people to ask to dance. Isn’t that ridiculous? It’s like others decreed me “off limits” when I reached a certain level, and since then, I’ve been left alone for a lot of dances. This had nothing to do with me, because if you know me, im one of the most social butterflies on the floor- i love dragging people out of their chairs, making sure everyones having a good time. So I started dancing with wallflower followers and working on my leading. Here’s what I learned:
- Lower level followers are the most patient with my mistakes
- I catch myself favouring one side of my body
- I only have 11 patterns, but I can make all of them match the music.
- Counterbalance is quintessential.
- Apparently I have scary shoulders- ladies hesitate to put their hands on me.
- Next time I wash my hands I have to wash my right wrist too.
- High ponytails suck. So does white solid deodorant and body lotion.
- What a body lead really is.
- Floorcraft- a whole different ball game.
- Oops I forgot to lead any invitations and the song’s ending…
- I learned what her last partner was like.
- Tester moves are required for self preservation.
- I’m getting better at pattern math.
- I probably still look like crap, but I’m centered, I move from my core, and I work with the laws of physics.
- Frame is a skill that is severely undertaught.
- A little piece of me is scared of getting my fingers wrenched every time I lead multiple spins.
- It makes me feel incompetent when a follower anticipates a much cooler pattern than I was planning on leading.
- True followers at all levels are those who can mechanically compensate for errors.
- Just like with leaders, I’m always curious to see if she feels as good as she looks.
- I much prefer songs I know. That eliminates one variable I don’t have to worry about.
Consider trying out the opposite role – you’ll be surprised what you learn from it!
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