Country dancing, especially here in Arizona, is a such a great way to spend a Friday or Saturday night! From awesome music to time with old and new friends, where else would you rather be that Two Stepping and Swing dancing the night away at your favorite Country bar?
There are a few aspects to Country dancing at the bars, though, that as a trained dancer, I would love to change. Not because I think that the everyday person needs to look like a professional, but because having the right techniques, whether you’re Country Western dancing or Latin dancing, matters. “Why?”, you may be wondering. Simply put, the experience of dancing with someone is so much better when they know what they’re doing. Here are some of the most underused techniques in the Country dance scene today.
A Proper Dance Frame
Frame. Frame. Frame. I can’t say it enough! If you want to lead a lady on the dance floor, please know how to hold her properly. Have you ever heard the quote, “Dancing is just a conversation between two people”? This line says it all! On the dance floor, he the lead. He communicates to his partner through his dance frame. This is how he tells her if he wants her to turn, where to step, and even which foot to step with. If his frame does not offer support, how will she know what he is “asking” of her. This non-verbal communication is everything, so that she knows where to go and what to do, without having to to be manhandled, or yanked, as is commonly the way I see a lot of Country dancers communicate to each other today in the Country bars.
The last thing you want to do is go take Private Country Dance Lessons for beginners just to end up looking like a Ballroom dancer. So make sure that whatever local dance studio for adults near you that you attend, you clarify that you want to fit in socially. It seems obvious, but most ballroom dance studios train people for competitions, not social dancing, so clarification is a must.
The concept of connection is another biggie when it comes to underused techniques while Country dancing. Connection on the dance floor between two people is really the core of ballroom (or social partner) dancing. Think of it like this. If you’re on the phone with someone and you have a bad connection, you can’t understand what the other person is saying. It’s the same on the dance floor. The good news is that a proper dance frame helps two people connect almost instantly. So do other points of connection, which can vary from dance to dance.
When two people are truly connected, they move as one on the dance floor. That is a super-fun experience, versus being tossed around because you don’t know much more that cool moves that you saw online. Instead of being that guy, dance lessons will surely help you to understand how to develop a connection with anyone, and be the best lead that you can be while out Country dancing.
Timing is so essential, yet I rarely see it adhered to when it comes to Country dancing in Arizona! Rather, I do see a lot of Cowboys doing the same moves, to the same tempo, whether the song is fast, medium, or slow. Again, to a trained dancer, this makes absolutely no sense. How can the same dance apply to such wide variety of beats? Simply put, it doesn’t.
There are different dances for different speeds of music. For example, a song with 3/4 timing is a waltz. And if it has a Country vibe, it’s a Country waltz. Plain and simple. On the other hand, if the song is up tempo, it is most likely a Swing. Country Swing dancing, however, cannot be used to all up tempo dances, which is why there are others to choose from, like the West Coast Swing and the Country Two Step. Even a Night Club Two Step can have an upbeat feel, depending on the song. The point is that there are specific dances that you can learn to fit certain tempos so that you can be a versatile dancer.
With Private Dance Lessons, you will discover what dances fit what songs, and why. It’s actually really cool to know, and very empowering for a lead on the dance floor. Why go out Country dancing as a one hit wonder when you can enjoy several styles of dance? This way, you’ll never be bored and neither will she! Now that’s a great thing!
Finally, Shaping. Shaping is a technique that I pretty much never see at the Country dance venues I attend. This approach to dancing is even sometimes left out of trained dancer’s bag of tricks, but is a wonderful feeling when it is included in a dance. In layman’s terms, Shaping is what you do with your body to make it more comfortable for your lady to move from one space to the next on the dance floor. Without it, she can certainly go places, but with more effort on your part, which is never ideal. It’s the difference between inviting someone to walk through a door and pulling them through it.
If you’re currently one of those Country dancers who hasn’t received any formal training, what’s one technique that you could improve upon? Keep going out dancing and, from one weekend to the next, schedule some dance lessons to become an ever better Country dancer. You’ll surely learn these techniques and more, which will make going out Country dancing even more exciting! Start with an Introductory Country Dance Lesson and take one step at a time towards your goal, you’ll be so glad you did!