Thursday, May 16, 2013


Did you realize that most club dancers keep a "Blacklist?" It may not be written out, but over time everybody will decide there are people who they don't want to dance with.

Some women blacklist you because you're too gray, had bad breath one day, can't stay on beat, aren't cool enough, spin them too much, spin them too little, had too many drinks, are too tall, too short, don't have enough "flavor," or maybe hang with the wrong crowd.

Sometimes it also happens after a dance or two, if a guy is overly aggressive or tries to get too close too soon. Occasionally a lady dances close with one partner, and the new guy thinks he can do the same thing when the previous partners have a long dance history. If the new guy doesn't pay attention to her body language (or ignores it), he may miss the fact she doesn't want him so close.

I know some women black list guys later in the evening, because they sweat heavily and don't bring a change of shirts or take breaks and cleanup a little. (I don't blame ladies for that.)

There are a hundred reasons, and the amusingly-aggravating thing is, it can vary depending on their mood.

Fact is, most women keep a Black, Gray, and Favorite list along with a very, very short, "I'm one glass of wine and a good dance from going home with that guy" list. (I've heard of that one, but I've never seen it actually happen...)

Overall, I accept it and over the years I've even recommended some ladies turn down specific guys. I've seen those guys be rough or fail to protect their partners, basically because they are too into their own dancing.

I want to be on the Favorite list if possible. I'd rather a woman turn me down than dance with me while acting like she'd prefer an anesthesia-free root canal. Over time, most of us take it less personally, and realize that there are some excellent dancers who don't always want to dance with me.

After dancing many years I have a few who have never danced with me even though we've seen each other regularly, and I have some new follows who turn me down. It happened to me in the club the other night (after dancing for many years.) So what? She didn't know me, I'm not the youngest in the club, maybe I looked like an older white guy to her, and she has had poor experiences with those in the past. Who knows.

Some leads also have blacklists, ladies they don't ask even if they have seen them before. She could be too tall, or married and he only wants to dance with single ladies, or he thought she had a poor attitude in the past. Guys can be pretty shallow in their asking criteria.

I've seen excellent follows who look great with others, but don't sync well with me. Also, some women I liked when I first started are not as much fun anymore. Women will love a certain lead when they're beginners, but then find a year later that the same guy "isn't all that anymore." As your level changes, your tastes in a partner often evolve as well.

Some advanced dancers just don't want to dance with beginners, so they blacklist everybody who hasn't proven that they're worthy of their time. I don't agree with that approach; but as I dance more and more, I realize that you can't always dance with everyone you'd like. Consequently, you often dance with those you know rather than someone new.

As novices, most guys get indignant if turned down. I used to blacklist any women who turned me down twice. Worse, I would swear at her under my breath if she turned me down and went on the floor with another guy 30 seconds later. (I hope my Mom doesn't read this.)

Today, if I know her, I often don't ask directly. I gently grab her hand, lead her to the floor and start dancing. Since we've danced and had fun in the past, it's rare that she'll stop me after we're on the floor. And some other guy may be fuming since he just asked her. I had one women protest "I just turned someone down!" and I said, "Sorry, that's not my problem, I like this song and you are perfect for it!"

If a women turns you down, the easiest thing to do is ask someone else AND improve your dancing. I'm committed to being better next month, rather than worrying about the ones who won't dance with me today. Someday, she will notice I'm improving and she may change her mind. If she doesn't, that's fine too.

I never believe anybody owes me a dance, you shouldn't either. Leads should develop a thick skin, and move on.

What gets someone on your blacklist?
Have you changed your mind and why did you?
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you
cannot grow.
-Ronald Osborn

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  1. Haven't thought of it as a blacklist, but I do have a few things that really puts me off in a dancepartner. Either if he's too drunk to lead me or if he keeps complaining on me for things that are obviously his fault (eg. telling me off for going forward on 1 when being pulled, instead of back. It's hard to go back when being pulled forward. Makes me furious everytime). So yes, I guess I have about three guys on my blacklist, reasons being I have to hold 'him' up or I simply don't enjoy being accused of doing things wrong for no legitimate reason.

  2. You are totally right about the drinkers and critics. Once they cross that line from a couple social drinks to being drunk, "No Thank-you" is totally appropriate. I don't understand the critics... especially if they ask you to dance. Once I ask you, then I make the most of how YOU dance and usually that works well.

    I see no problem in women blacklisting guys who are drinking and/or critics in the middle of the dance.

  3. This blacklisting thing is symptomatic of a bigger problem in the L.A. salsa scene. The sad truth is that the L.A. salsa scene is emerging into a scene of low lifes whose focus is their own selfish sex and ego driven agendas. The clubs are full of mostly men of all ages stuck in adolescence whose preference is to dance with girls under 30 dressed like hookers. These men do not care that the girl does not know how to dance. Likewise, the clubs are full of mostly girls under 30 dressed like hookers who doesn't care if the guy knows how to dance, only that he shows her off like a piece of meat to all his friends watching on the sidelines. This has nothing to do with dance skill or ability, but with ego and sex. The guy who doesn't show the girl off like a piece of meat gets blacklisted by the girls and likewise, the girl who is over 30 and not dressed like a hooker is blacklisted by the men. This blacklisting game does not apply to newcomers to salsa.

  4. Frankly I think some guys should be blacklisted. Beginners often think they need to dance with everybody. But some men deserve to get turned down for a variety of reasons we are discussing.

    One thing I'm not clear on: I always try to show off my partner. I want her to enjoy the dance and look great. I'm thinking most women want to be placed in the best possible light.

    And dressing sexy to attract men has been going on a few years in LA. I doubt that will go away anytime soon, in salsa or other dances.

  5. I guess to be fair, I know I've got a blacklist of women who I won't ask. Either she constantly said no to me, or she was just unpleasant to dance with, or worse, just plain mean. (This is a family show so I'll leave it there)

    You mean there's a "One glass of wine and one good dance..." list? How do I get on that one. :-)

  6. I sometimes ask silently too. Sometimes I just smile and mouth the words "you dancin'" or "care to dance" while taking her hand, especially when the club is loud.

    But I never start leading her out onto the floor until she answers, either verbally or nonverbally. It only takes a moment.

    I would never insist when a woman says she just turned a guy down. Either she's telling the truth and I'm creating a problem for her, which is not cool, or she's trying to let me down gently and I'm pushing the issue, which is not cool either.

    I do have a short blacklist. It consists of:

    * People who turn me down every time. I try again, once in a blue moon. But a tiny handful have rejected me so consistently that there's just no point. There are so many people who want to dance with me, why be a pain?

    * People who show zero enthusiasm. Some partners are hard to read - they may have a very serious expression the whole time - but let me know they appreciate me in other ways, like asking me to dance or thanking me afterwards. That's OK. But if my partner is actively negative about the experience, forget it.

    * People who insist on stopping me every two measures to correct my dancing. Yes, every guy dances on the five once in a while, but if you really can't relax and enjoy his interpretation, just stop saying yes. I don't mind some feedback, I'm talking about relentlessly "teaching on the floor."

    * VERY tall women who just aren't that into it with me. It's OK. It can be quite difficult to lead effectively with a huge height difference. If she's into it anyway though I'm game - I have a lot of preferred partners who are taller.

    * People with no hygiene skills! Pretty rare, but it happens (:

  7. While I've never considered it a Blacklist... There are some women I won't dance with for the various reasons listed in previous comments. To me it's about the ability to have fun. I can have fun with someone who is a beginner, as much as I can with a more advanced dancer... sometimes more.! Some of the so called 'GOOD' female dancers get an attitude that if you're not an over the top dancer with all the really cool moves, you're not fun to dance with... And while I understand this to a point, I know we all want to have fun dancing, there needs to be a little credit given for a man that dances on time and leads well the steps he does know, and also that he lets the woman he's dancing with know that she has his attention, without having to be worried that he's trying to get more than a dance... LOL! I learned early on that being a good male dancer is not about how many steps you know or how good you look... It's about how you make a woman feel and look on the dance floor! If a woman feels safe... ie: Trusting that you're not going rip something off, break something, grope something, knock her off, knock her down, or knock her up... if you dance with her at a level that is comfortable for her, make the dance about her... as in, not dancing to make yourself look good, lead well steps she can do, you'll be a man women will want to dance with again and again.! They don't care how much we know, they want to know how much we care. And ultimately, I do believe it 'is' the mans responsibility to be a good dancer, and a gentleman first and foremost. Women have a hard enough time with the fact that just about every man feels, moves, and leads a little different... BUT, it 'is' the woman's responsibility to FOLLOW what a man leads. If you don't like dancing with someone don't dance with them again... but while you're dancing with him, follow, or he'll never learn how to lead? We men are fragile in the beginning... it's easy to destroy our confidence when we're doing our best. But at the same time, I've seen too many men that think they're great dancers trying to make women do steps they can't lead, trying to impress women that are just starting to learn and aren't ready for them... scare them off, and they give up before they have a chance to see how much fun it can be!? So... to finish this before it turns into a book... whether you're a man or a woman, dance with the one you're dancing with... men dance to make your partner feel good, ladies... you don't "have" to dance with anyone you don't want to, so if you said yes... dance to his beat, even if it's off a little...

  8. I don't have a black list, but I'll admit I have a "It's a waste of time to ask her to dance because she never says 'yes'" list. Only one woman has ever made it on this list. I've never gotten a yes out of her, only a short, emotionless, barely-looking-at-me-while-answering "no" or "no, thank you."

    Other than that, I'm down to dance with anybody. The situation at hand determines who I ask. The quality of the dance I just had, the women who are in proximity to me at the moment, how much I like the song that just started, any newcomers/out-of-towners and countless other variables factor into that, but overall, I don't rule anybody out.

  9. I've got a few women that I won't dance with. Either she's a shrew and is unnecessarily mean to all the guys she dances with or she keeps turning me down. I've got enough women who enjoy dancing with me to put up with that.

    And I know that some people get black listed for self-defense. My teacher told me about some guy that was repeatedly trying a move that making her feel uncomfortable and at one point hurt her. That's never cool. Needless to say, that guy got blacklisted. Fortunately, she knows I'm a good respectful dancer and I'm on her Heck Yes list. And the coolest list short of the One glass of wine and I'm going home with him list is when the ladies ask you to dance.

  10. In addition to the factors you've listed above:

    "Do you want to dance?"
    "No thank you, I just got stepped on and I want to rest."
    "Oh come on."
    "No really, I really want to sit down for this one."
    "It's a great song."
    "I actually don't like dancing to this song, it's too fast for me."
    "You'll be fiiine. I'll take it slow."
    "No thank you."
    "You'll thank me when you're having a good time dancing with me!" -- trying to lead me out to the floor.
    "No seriously. I do not want to dance right now."

    I don't care how good a dancer you are, not being able to take a no gracefully pretty much guarantees a blacklisting from me.

  11. Blacklist - yes! The ones that turned me down too many times, the women that walked off the floor in the middle of a dance after accepting a dance from me (when I was a beginner - I'm intermediate/advanced level now)and I still remember both of them, the ones that frown when a mistake is made in my leads, the ones that I have no dance chemistry with, the ones that turn down my salsero friends (when there is no real reason to do so - the guys are polite and can dance!), etc. There is no shortage of attractive and polite Salseras of all ability levels to dance with in my scene - I gravitate toward them and leave the rest for the other guys.

  12. Lol! I have the same thing on one of my blog posts: This blog is awesome and am definitely following!


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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero