FELLAS, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO MAKE THE LADY LOOK GOOD
COMMENTS ON THE "GROUP" OR "BIRTHDAY" DANCE, AND PARTNER DANCING IN GENERAL
by Steve Shaw
Founder & Co-Host
Email - Salsa@nyc.rr.com
"FELLAS, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO MAKE THE LADY LOOK GOOD" - That's what Eddie Torres always used to tell us in class when we loaded the ladies up with too many turn patterns, dancing off timing, or jerky rough leads. And to say this another way, paraphrasing the words of instructor & performer Milton Cobo, the man should aim to satisfy his partner on the dance floor. Whether she is a beginner, intermediate, or advanced dancer, he should make sure that when the song is over she is fulfilled.
The Group Dance - Obviously, this applies when one couple is dancing. The man should make the lead smooth and flowing, and in time with the music. But the worst situation we often see is when several men are taking turns dancing with one woman. This happens spontaneously at mambo events and is traditional for birthday dances. What often happens is that the woman is being used like a rag doll or punching bag while the guys compete with each other to show off their latest & most difficult moves. Often, the guys start cutting in on each other aggressively in the middle of a measure/bar, grabbing the woman roughly and off timing, with no attempt to smooth her transition from one partner to another. This is just bad dancing. It is male self indulgence & competition at its worst, and it is completely disrespectful to the woman.
Pay Attention To The Lady - When
just 2 people dance, we pay attention to our partner and help her enjoy the
song. When 5 or 10 guys dance with the same partner, we STILL should pay primary
attention to our partner and help her enjoy the song. What makes the group
dance harder is that we are also paying attention to the other guys, but our
FIRST responsibility as good dancers is STILL to fulfill our partner, and
that's the woman. Let's face it, these group dances usually involve some
competition between some the guys: who has the fanciest turn patterns, who
can impress the woman or the crowd the most, who gets the first & last turn
with her, etc. But remember, the competition is not the most important part
of the dance. You are not dancing with those other guys. Most
importantly, you are dancing with a woman, she is your partner, so pay
attention to her first & foremost.
When & How To Cut In
- Don't fight with the other guys for dance time with the woman.
Don't cut in aggressively or out of synch with what the other guy is doing, or
out of timing with the music. There is a proper time to cut in.
It's not just any time you want. It's almost always on the 1st
beat of the measure, and occasionally on the 5th beat. It's when the other
guy does something with his turn pattern that gives you an opening to SMOOTHLY
pick up the woman. The easiest moment is just after a cross body lead, but
other points may work equally smoothly. Often the guy dancing with the woman
signals the next guy to cut in by looking at him or tapping him with his
hand. Most importantly, the transition from one guy to another
should be SMOOTH for the lady. In fact, it should almost be as
if it were the same lead, as if by the same man. For example, the man dancing
gives her a cross body lead and is holding her right hand with his left hand.
The new partner smoothly steps in beside her, placing his right hand behind
her back on 6, 7, smoothly takes her right hand replacing the other guy's left
hand, and smoothly leads her into a cross body lead on 1. She should hardly
notice the change from one partner to another.
Take Turns Fairly - "Don't fight with the other guys for dance time with the woman" means wait your turn. If there are 8 guys, let the other 7 have their turns before you cut in again. Also, let the guy dancing with the woman have some time with her, not just 1 or 2 bars. He should not have to be "dancing defensively" to keep you away just so he can have enough time to connect, do a few turns and cross body leads and, most importantly, pay some attention to her. Give them some time & space. And on the other side, don't hog her once you get her. The group dance is about sharing equally and respecting each other's time with the lady. Keep it fair. Keep it graceful. Keep it smooth. Keep her enjoying the dance.
Ladies, Don't Take It Anymore - I've seen some ladies let the guys know quite clearly when they don't like how they're being treated on the dance floor. But many of you just stay quiet and suffer with bad timing, rough or aggressive leads, crazy turn patterns, too many turn patterns, and partners who are more into themselves than into you. For those of you who just stay quiet, let me say this: Don't take it anymore. Whether it's dancing with one partner or several partners, you have every right to tell a partner if you don't like what he's doing. Believe me, it happens to all of us guys from time to time, and we will not be destroyed....nor will we get destructive. It may be uncomfortable for a few moments for us, but hopefully we will eventually learn to improve our dancing if a woman tells us we're doing something unpleasant. So ladies, you have the right to tell a guy to stop doing something that you don't like, or to tell him to lead more smoothly or gently, or to cut you loose, etc. And if he doesn't, then just walk off the dance floor! Believe me, you will get plenty of support from everyone around you.....including us guys.
Email - Salsa@nyc.rr.com
Copyright © 2001 Steve Shaw
Other Articles By Steve Shaw - "Doc Salsa":
How To Get More Partners - Overcoming Fear Of Dancing - Tough Talk
Definition of Dancing On 2 - Technique - How To Learn - The Music
Guidelines For Mambo DJs - List Of Good Mambo & Cha Cha Songs
How To Put On A Successful Salsa Dance Event
The Story Of SalsaNewYork.com - How It Came About
Fellas, You Are Supposed To Make The Lady Look Good
Cyber Interview Of Doc Salsa
DJ Steve Shaw "Doc Salsa" - Resume & Contact Information
How To Make &
Care For A CD For Performing
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