I'm social dancing at Mama Juana's the last couple nights and I had two women say those words to me after I asked them to dance. And they said it before we were even on the dance floor. Something about me was scaring them. Not enough to turn me down, but enough for them to be concerned for their well being.
Granted, they were both beginner/intermediate follows, and they knew I was an instructor there, but it made me think. Why would a woman say that to her lead on the way to the floor?
I wasn't even dressed in my normal hip-hop, show my underwear, ripped baggy sweats, with a summo wrestler-sized, camo sleveless shirt and my hat on sideways. Instead, I was in my classic black dress slacks, with an upscale pullover shirt. Maybe my face says I pull the wings off flies for fun, or I throw cats in the pool and kick puppies in my spare time, but it really got me thinking.
Why would they think they needed to ask me to take it easy with them? The last thing I want to do is push them over the edge.
Here's my guess: Other guys had pushed them way beyond their comfort level, and they were assuming similar treatment from me. Maybe other, more advanced leads were rough and/or overly aggressive. Obviously they didn't want to look bad, and they felt compelled to let me know they wanted less intensity.
It could also be they know I'm an instructor at the club, but I thought that would bring comfort, knowing I dance with a wide range of ladies.
Guys: Just because we can, doesn't mean we should. I have to guess we are not making some of the ladies comfortable, or they think because we can dance with intensity, we don't know how to scale it appropriately for our current partner.
I don't know the answer on this one, so maybe the ladies can provide feedback:
- When would you say something like this to a guy?
- Why would you say yes if you thought I was going to be over the top, overly aggressive or inappropriate?
For the ladies: It's OK to say, "no thank you" or "maybe later" if you think a guy can't dance with finesse and that's what you want. If you do say no, be prepared to go find him later if/when you want to dance. Many guys will not ask you twice in the same night; on the other hand, very few guys will say no if you smile, bat your eyelashes and ask them nicely.
For the guys: To break the tension, if I know I'm dancing with someone who is less experienced, I sometimes say, "Please be gentle with me," or, "Go easy on me," with a smile before we start, cutting the stress and letting them know I plan on making the dance fun and appropriate for them.
Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you cannot grow.