Friday, October 19, 2012

Divorce is Bad for Ballroom Dancing

From a reader:

I asked a very pretty, slender and young brunette to dance. I asked her for experience level, and she said she had only taken the free lesson once but that she liked to spin. So spin her I did. She was one of the best follows I'd ever led, despite having so little experience she just went where I led her, swung-out and spun as I told her. She just flowed. It was great. She had the warmest smile on her face the entire time...

Contrast to later that evening, an older (at least 50s) woman asked me to dance, so I obliged. She was nearly impossible to lead. She was rigid, immobile, unresponsive and gave me no smile. I've danced with other older women, and most weren't nearly so difficult to lead. 

Though it is not a 100% correlation, I will testify with my now 16 years of dance instruction that divorced women are harder to dance with and for precisely the reasons our fine young reader implied - they are psychologically predisposed against following.

Yes, there is an element of "can't teach an old dog new tricks" but that applies equally to men and women.  By the time a student is 50+ I have seen less aptitude to learn new moves in both sexes.  But divorced women (regardless of age) were more often than not a bear to instruct, let alone dance with.

They'll turn on their own. They'll initiate the dance even though the leader hasn't started.  They'll assume the move you try to start and execute the wrong one, and (should they actually wait for you to start leading a turn) they will IMMEDIATELY execute the turn with no regard to the beat or timing by which the turn should be executed, resulting in them getting out of the turn ahead of the lead and way ahead of the beat.  

Now all women to a certain extend do this when they are learning. They are merely trying to "help," but what I always teach the beginning women in my class is that following is a psychological skill.  There is nothing they can "do" or "start" or "help" with because "helping" "initiating" or "doing" is antithetical to following.  They must RESPOND, not initiate or do.

After explaining this most women get it and start following splendidly.  However, I can almost pick out the divorced women in that they are the ones where my philosophical explanation of following went into one ear and out the other.  They still initiate, they still lead, and some go even so far to say, "well, my partner won't lead, I HAVE TO!" Or, I've even had it so far where the woman giggles and says, "oh, I'm not good at following.  I have to lead" COMPLETELY ignorant to the fact that it goes against the dynamics and mechanics of dancing making it IMPOSSIBLE for her to dance with any one.

Sure enough, they fight, they toil, they get frustrated.  Some even go so far as to instruct their current dance partner (I have them rotate) talking over me, telling him what "he's doing wrong," while I'm trying to address the exact same problems they "think" they're solving.  The field trips ensue and you get to know them personally and I'd say about 7 out of 10 times you find out they're divorced.  The remaining 3 women obviously displaying signs of "Grrrrl Power (TM)" and "moxie" belying their psychological disadvantage to learning to follow.

But rip apart the ladies all I want, there is another side to the coin, and that is the men.  Divorced men, but more so, singles-group men, desperately trying to find a wife at my dance class.  They're there because they either got divorced or never found a gal and it shows.  They plain can't lead.  They're afraid, they take no risks.  The qualities and traits that send women screaming.

They're polite, they look at theirs partner's feet hoping to plagiarize the moves instead of listening to me.  They get railroaded once they dance with the divorcee woman with moxie, telling him how he's screwing up, constantly talking to him so he can't head the beat, let alone me yelling out the moves.  When it comes time to turn the girl, they lift a limp wristed arm up SUGGESTING, not COMMANDING the woman to turn.  They also lack the psychological understanding of the word "leader" and instead think a ballroom dance is done by committee and compromise.  They're almost as bad as the husband who is forced to come to dance class, but plain refuses to participate in an attempt to punish his wife with stubborn poutiness.

The best students I have are what you would expect the best relationships to be - the man is the leader, and the woman helps him and is supportive.  There is no "co-leading" or "committee" or "compromise." Without a doubt the best "couple" students I've had were the happily married couples.  And by "happily married" I mean it was obvious they were still having sex.  The man was the man.  He led, he commanded.  His wife was turned on, had a smile on her face and was only too happy to support and help him.  You knew they would go home and have sex immediately after class.

Of course, I know even though my observations above come from 16 years of empirical experience, they are politically incorrect.  Having "roles," especially traditional ones forced on people or even advocated is verbotten by the leftist thought police.  Divorced, empowered women are GREAT ballroom dancers!  And timid, shy, compliant men are AWESOME ballroom dancers too!  It's just you evil patriarchs applying your "labels" and "definitions" on people as "lead" and "follow" that make the dance not what it should be.  Besides, who are you to say the couple who work as a flawless team to the point they are one on the dance floor is any better than the spineless, limp 54 year old beta male as he futilely tries to lead his 52 year old divorcee partner as she lectures him while he's trying, resulting in what looks to be a disjointed dance akin to a drunk man trying to pilot a revolting dump truck!  That's just your evil, traditionalist patriarchy sexism shining through.


HeManMasteroftthePooniverse said...

This goes right along with my 60/40 rule of successful relationships.

daniel_ream said...

I learned swing and salsa from a local swing club that spun out from a university student club. They routinely taught people how to be both leads *and* follows.

There is nothing so ridiculous as watching a 5'2" woman try to lead a 6'2" man.

Anonymous said...

"There is nothing so ridiculous as watching a 5'2" woman try to lead a 6'2" man."

Being shorter leader IS a disadvantage in ballroom dancing, if for no other reason that it is hard to see what the hell is going on the floor if the follower's shoulder is in the way.

That being said switching roles in dancing can be very instructive, once you experience bad leading, horrid following, you can correct your own faults.

Anonymous said...

That's the result of single mothers raising boys.

I have that problem & can't see the point in commanding anyone to do anything, especially when the woman can just call the almighty state to fuck your life up if she's not compliant at that time.

But his crosses into many areas of life, especially work - find people who are co-operative & have a sense of fair play. Those who want you to instruct them are to be avoided as they are cowards & perpetual victims & those who want to instruct others are bullies who will take the credit for your work & typically have no real skills of their own.

Screw both personality types, let them boss around/be victims all they want!

Chris said...

Well, did some ceroc just after divorce. Enjoyed it, but left because I did not like being around the stench of desperation.

The best partners were those who were happy in their life and confident to follow -- and enjoy the dance.

Tom the Impaler said...

I tried taking my thrice divorced friend Kimberly to a salsa lesson. God you described the sensation. I'm trying to work into a good leader and Kim's an IMPOSSIBLE partner for me.

Jokah Macpherson said...

I've been taking ballroom dancing lessons for a year now and I have definitely observed what you are talking about. I never realized this aspect of dancing before I started but really 90% of what dancing is about is physical communication between the leader and follower so that they both do what they are supposed to. Consequently, women that don't pay attention to your signals are no fun to dance with.

I suppose the same could be said for intersex relations in general. There's no point in carrying a conversation with a girl very far if she's not synchronizing with your flirtations.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, I took an intro Salsa class and noticed the attitude problem of most ofthe women in the class.

It was annoying to have women, who by the fact of being in an intro class, have no competence in the skills being taught, lecture and order me to do certain things. Of course, when one woman said do one thing one way, if you tried that with a different partner, they would say do it another way.

There was one girl who was particularly scornful towards me. I was so disgusted and told her to practice by herself. I literally was so repulsed by her behavior I didn't want to look at her, let alone touch her.

She really didn't know what to do after I walked away from her. She was kind of like a deer caught in headlights.

I did not make a scene about it, nor did I try to embarass her. I jumped back into the group when it was time to change partners. I somehow walked the tight line of making my displeasure clear, without looking like the "bad guy."

People in the class later that night seemed to respect what I had done. No one said anything, but I had looks directed toward me that had both shock (I can't beleive you did that) and admiration (no one should put up with that amount of disrespect) -- particularly from some of the Hispanic guys in the class.

Cogitans Iuvenis said...

The worst are the middle aged divorcee. You can always spot them, gaunt looking, hard eyes, never a smile on their face. The bad dancers you can sympathize with, they are just trying to have a good time, so you can forgive their misteeps. But *those* I dread dancing with, even if you execute a flawless routine there is nothing magical about it, it just feels like dancing with a windup watch.

Anonymous said...

I am the poster that CC quoted above.

Today I took the time to search "Dancing" through CC's blog and just go reading through the various posts. I've gained tremendous wisdom regarding the whole scene and dynamics at play into a venture I've just started.

I've noticed something about my dancing the past few weeks practice; and I don't like what I see.
I have become much more dependent on feedback from my follow. AND IT IS BAD. I want to do well and do things correctly, so I defer to their opinion of how it felt. Consequently, I've become a worse leader.

Next week, I'll take a renewed "Don't give a fuck" attitude with me and start throwing these girls around like they expect me too. I'm a big, strong dude, so it won't be a physical problem for me. I just need to own it and do it.

Male Ballroom Dancer said...

Hey Captain,

Let me first say that I am really enjoying your blog. As an aspiring and struggling male dancer, I am getting a ton of value here. That said, I have found that I really enjoy dancing with women that are not the critical and correcting women. I know they are just trying to "help" but what it does is takes any shred of confidence I had at the time and takes it away. Then the second-guessing and weak leading commences. So I choose women that are not strong dancers and I can lead at will.

Anonymous said...

I wish there were books and dvds on what a lead feels like - what does the leader do? Like turn signals on my body. I'm good at fishing and can tell a bite from the tide's tug. More info please - most women want to follow - ya can't dance alone!

Anonymous said...

I wish there were books and dvds on how to follow - what part of me does the leader move? How? Like turn signals on my body. I'm good at fishing and can tell the tug of the tide from a fish when it bites. Most women want to follow - ya can't dance alone! Thanks and happy feet

Anonymous said...

that's completely true.
I've been dancing for 3 years now.
When I started there were some women who didn't follow and complained of everything I did. I paid attention because I was learning but when I improved and noticed that I was able to dance with everybody except with some followers I found that those followers were divorcees (range 40's 50's)
It is true also about men looking for a partner but they show some features that women don't like.
great article

Anonymous said...

Wow - how about working on building trust with the divorced woman? I'm a divorced (and happily re-married) dancer. I know I have trouble following and I'm working on it. I love the challenge of learning to follow because it's helping me learn to go with the flow more off the dance floor, too.

Building trust with my partner is *essential*. The minute I get a limp-wristed turn, I know I start back leading. Your points are accurate, but I'm not seeing anything productive in this article. How about talking about how to fix it rather than (seemingly) writing us off? I feel incredibly lucky that my amazing teachers are working with me on this rather than just chalking me up as a "divorced woman who can never follow".

Same thing for those poor single/divorced guys who reek of desperation - partner dancing should teach them confidence which will flow into other areas of their lives.