TEN REASONS WHY WE SHOULD DANCE WITH BEGINNERS

1. It is a nice thing to do.

It is a good idea to prove to yourself and others that you are nice, and one way to do this is to do something that perhaps some people might perceive as unselfish.


2. You might make somebody’s night.

A beginner might have a great dance with you and go home buzzing with the thrill of that one dance.


3. It is good for recruitment to the scene.

The swing dance scene needs new blood all the time, and many beginners may be made to feel inferior by lofty experts, and they may get the impression that it will be years before they will be allowed to dance with the good dancers. Many will be put off, and stop coming.


4. Beginners will learn faster.

The best way to get good is through good social dancing, rather than just through lessons. Many beginners seem to have the idea that they must get good first before they can have fun with the dance on the social floor. This is rubbish. The sooner beginners get dances with good dancers, the quicker they will learn, and so will no longer be beginners, and the experts will have more good partners.


5. Beginners haven’t learned to dance badly yet.

We experts need to catch recruits to the swing scene early, and get them to dance with us and have fun on the floor before they become intermediate dance-robots. IDRs are people who have persevered with lessons, and have built up a vocabulary of moves, often put together in a particular order, and who as leads will dance these moves come what may – disregarding the music and what their partners are doing. IDR followers will learn to identify a move and then go into the routine of what they have been taught, disregarding the subtleties of the lead they are given. If they think that they recognise a lead into a back-Charleston from the lessons they have taken, they will go into a back-Charleston come what may. If good dancers dance with beginners enough, then these may never go on to the dreaded IDR stage.


6. A partner who is having fun is fun to dance with.

I would rather dance with someone who is clearly enjoying herself, than with a technically-perfect but expressionless partner. Beginners, as long as they are not made to feel afraid or unworthy, generally have a great time when dancing with someone good, and a big kick can be had out of giving another person a good time. If you get that big kick, then you too are having a good time.


7. It improves the atmosphere in the room.

Swing is about sharing the fun, and if all the good dancers dance with each other in one part of the ballroom, then everyone else feels that they are not really invited to the party. They will feel left out, gazing in at that little world from which they are barred, and they will have to seek out lesser mortals to dance with – the other lepers of the dance floor. When asking or being asked, they will experience a moment of great anxiety – will they be worthy of their partner, or perhaps will they end up in contempt of their partner’s feeble abilities?


8. It is a skill in itself.

You have gone to great trouble to learn how to Lindy hop well, but perhaps all you have done is learn how to Lindy hop with other Lindy hop experts. Wouldn’t it be great to have a different, more widely applicable skill? How about being able to ask anyone to dance, and show them a great time on the dance floor? When you are not at a Lindy event, but instead at a wedding or birthday or office party, then you will be able to use this skill, instead of just standing there, frustrated that there is no one good to dance with.


9. Because you never know.

You may think that you can spot a beginner, but you cannot with perfect reliability. That person, waiting patiently by the dance floor may turn out to be a terrific dancer who will remember you as the one who asked him/her to dance when all the other experts passed him/her by. You will then get lots of dances with that partner. If you can spot a beginner with 85% accuracy, and you ask twenty to dance, then you’ll get three nice surprises.


10. It is a great test of your ability.

You go through many stages with a new move. In his super-advanced lesson, at first a lead won’t be able to do the move at all, then he may be able to do his part of it, but be unable to lead his partner at the same time, then there’s the stage when he can lead the move in the class properly. Later, trying the move out on the dance floor, he might lead it with someone from the class he just took. She might not get it first time because she didn’t spot that it was the move from the class. She might get it second time round, though. If he is better at the move, he’ll be able to lead it with her first time. A greater challenge is to lead the move with a good partner who wasn’t in that class and doesn’t know it. The greatest challenge, though, is to lead the move with a beginner who doesn’t know the move and isn’t expecting it. When you can lead it then and have it followed, then you really know that you have cracked the move. As a follow, if you can give your partner a good time, and make him feel that he is a good dancer and good lead even when he is a beginner, then you are a terrific follower.

Did you have trouble understanding this page? If so, then in case it helps:
the essay again in Norwegian.


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