Sunday, August 26, 2007

It's Hard to Hate Your Partner While Dancing

Ever get into a fight with your S.O. (significant other) on the way to the club? Or the dinner conversation didn't go as planned and nobody is talking in the car? Maybe you shouldn't have told her she looks a "little heavy" in that outfit.

The funny thing is, once you are reasonable dancers as a couple, it's hard to continue being mad while dancing. You might be upset before, you might be bothered after, but you have to work to be mad during the dance. Few couples can pull that off, and even fewer have the desire to.

There just is something about a good dance that takes the steam out of most couple fights. It may not last all night, but the edges are softer after a great dance. It's like watching kittens or puppies playing; they have so much fun and they are so cute, you have to laugh at 'em.

Part of the reason is we learn to pretend we are happy while dancing with others. Ladies smile at guys during a dance when they would run the other way if they saw them on the street. The better leads protect their partners from harm (other dancers), and pretend they love their partner who is struggling with a basic CBL. It's part of the culture to put your best face on during the dance.

As you become a more seasoned dancer, it's tough to turn that off just because your S.O. deserves to sleep alone for the next two months. Remaining totally bent out of shape after a decent dance is difficult, even if she considered committing justifiable homicide on you a few hours ago.

The Big Exception
The fastest way to have your partner more upset is to help them with "corrections" or "suggestions" unless you are in a training/practice session and the mood is right. When is the mood right? Rarely! Sorry, but it's borderline never for many couples.

Unless you are pro dancers, you won the last "Dale Carnegie: How to Win Friends and Influence People" award, and training is your business, correcting your partner is a recipe for conflict. You better do it immediately after a great love-making session, a gourmet meal, and winning a few thousand at the poker table. Otherwise, skip it and find a coach/instructor that can deliver the corrections.

For some reason, most people don't want to hear it from their S.O. Most don't take it well, even when their S.O. is totally, absolutely, unquestionably right. And I'll take one for the team and let you know that the guys are the worst in this respect. In the vast majority of cases they'll shoot the messenger rather than listen to reasonable advise from their S.O.

The right frame of mind is dancing as if your S.O. were someone you wanted to date, and you need to impress them with your attitude.

Next time you're working out of fighting mode, dance a few tunes, but use the same skills you use while dancing with others, playing up strengths and ignoring weaknesses. It makes the evening better for most couples, even if you aren't totally over the fight. A smile or two takes the sting out of most of life's rough edges. It may not work after you've gone nuclear on each other, but for most disagreements, dancing is the perfect way to work yourself back into their good graces.

Even with all the fighting among adult cats, there still seem to be plenty of kittens around.
-Samuel Carbin


  1. That reminds me of a problem I got a few times: how do I tell someone there is a problem?

    Yeah, I know, I should not tell someone in a bar or party setting corrections, but sometimes there is a fundamental problem so deep no one will dance a second dance with the lady, but no one will tell her why.

    For example last salsa festival in hamburg I was dancing with a few ladies I never met before, and encountered a *lot* of problems.

    One lady would not look me in the eyes. not even in the face. She had a face like a ballroom dancer dancing waltz, always looking to the left, away from the partner. Of course she missed most visual clues like held out hands waving in front of her face so she would grab them.
    Ah yes, and about missing clues: a few other ladies where so lost in their 'styling' they missing nearly every clue. Want the second hand after a CBL? No way, she had bend her arm backwards so she faced away from me, and any lead from my part would have caused her a lot of pain in her arm, so I left it.
    But most ladies I locally dance with have the worst problem: no tension at all. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Instead of being led they dance whatever they think is right.
    How do I tell these there is a problem?

    I tried with one lady I know, and she said 'my partner said I resisted too much, so I'm easy now', confusing tension with resistance.
    What to do with these ladies? (guys probably have problems, too, but since I dance with ladies I won't know *gg*)

  2. If you keep improving yourself, some ladies will ask you.

    Unless they ask, I rarely tell them anything. If I ask them to dance, then it's my problem if they don't follow the way I believe they should or they lack some skill I'd like.

    I have to admit I don't ask them very often if they are making zero progress and they are impossible to lead.

    If I want them to make eye contact and they are totally avoiding me, I use bad humor (the only type I have). I say something like "If your partner is ugly, don't ever look him in the eye."

    In most cases, they realize they are not looking at me and they start grinning (assuming I deliver that line correctly). I often add, "If he is really, really ugly, just look at his hair or his forehead and he won't know the difference..."

    Outside of finding a few light hearted comments to see if they respond, I don't try to change them or give them any advise on the floor.

    Again, I make sure they see I'm improving, they see me dancing with stronger partners over time, and some really want assistance. In those few cases I may make a suggestion, but they practically have to beat it out of me.

    I figure if they want instruction, they can hire someone (me or someone else). If we've danced multiple times and they keep asking, then I know they really want to know, and I might make a suggestion.

    If I'm dancing at a new location, and I get burned too many times, I take a break and figure out who is wearing dance shoes, who is already a reasonable dancer and I target those follows. Some nights I do random dances and sometimes it works great and occasionally it's not much fun.

    I'm sure a huge set of women wanted to change almost everything about my dancing at points, and most keep quiet while I figure some things out.

    A have a few follows I wish would ask me, but even if they did I would be careful about what I say. Most of the time if they ask me I respond with "what do you think you should target for improvement" and then I reword those areas and possibly add the one single thing I think could make the biggest difference.

    This is all assuming social dancing. If I'm in instructor mode and working with someone, then that is a totally different scenario.

  3. Ok, so I should better rephrase that question to:
    how do I turn a lady down who is impossible to lead but keeps asking me nonetheless? :)

    'Only if you let ME lead this time' did not really work as an answer *grin*


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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero