Have you ever wondered what makes someone a great lead on the dance floor? Did he start dancing as a toddler? Is he just a “natural”? What is it that gives him that look of ease and effortlessness? Well, great social ballroom dancers, like those who love to Country, Latin and Swing dance, have put in their time, no doubt, when it comes to looking so good. That’s what makes them so fun to dance with, right?!
Did you know that you too can be one of those incredible dancers, like the ones you see at the Country bars, or Latin clubs? You absolutely can. First, keep in mind that no one is born knowing how to dance. No one. While it is true that some people pick up movements quicker than others, dancers of all styles, from Salsa to Swing to Tango have learned at some point along the way, somewhere. Now that you know that, let me share some of the best kept secrets that leaders have when it comes to shining on the dance floor.
Secret 1: Make her the star.
Being a great lead on the dance floor can be very empowering for a man, as it should be! Very few guys take the time to learn how to lead well, so why should they not be proud of their good work? In partner dancing, though, the woman, or follow, should be the focal point. Think of all of the turns and twists he can lead her through to make her the center of attention. It’s pretty fantastic!
An awesome lead truly shows off his lady and makes her the star of the show. A guy who knows what he’s doing on the dance floor will highlight all of her assets and skills by dancing to her level, and making her feel and look her best. Like I always say, he’s the frame, and she’s the picture, so all eyes should be on her. For most guys, this is a relief. They can still have all the moves, but not all the attention. It’s a perfect pairing!
Secret 2: Less is more.
Personally, this is my philosophy on many things, and especially on the dance floor. Over the last two decades, I have trained thousands of men to be confident leads, and I have told each of them the same thing: Less really is more! What I mean by this, for example, is that there’s no need to yank her arms out of their sockets to turn. Have you ever seen this happen in a Country bar or Salsa club? The guy is literally tossing her around very aggressively just to get to her to move. Top leads are gentle in their “invitations” to get her to go exactly where they want her to be. Doesn’t that just sound better? Would you rather be invited into a space, or pulled and pushed to go through it? I’ll take the former please. This style of leading will basically guarantee that she will want to keep on dancing with you as you simply know how to treat a woman. It reminds me of a t-shirt that we will have in our retail shop that states “Handle with care.” It’s made for the ladies to wear to remind those aggressive guys out there to easy off on their lead. Less is more.
Secret 3: Rhythm is king.
This is a biggie! Let me explain. So many newbies think social ballroom dancing is about memorizing patterns and footsteps above understanding how to move with ease and naturalness. They get caught up on exactly where their feet should go instead of thinking about the space they have to work within. Think of how this plays out on a small, crowded floor. You’re busy running her through your steps, and she’s going along for the ride as your follow. Your patterns don’t fit into the circular dance floor and now, because you’re stuck in your routine of doing the same moves in the same order, she’s being banged into walls or run off the dance floor! Just knowing and executing your patterns can really get you in a lot of trouble.
If, on the other hand, you’re able to focus on a variety of rhythms that you’ve learned through Private Dance Lessons, and not just steps, your rigid and set movements will become fluid and easy to use anywhere, anytime. Yes, I did sneak in the fact that you will to invest in one-on-one instruction in order to be a great lead…because it’s true! That’s what it takes to get the details that you need to succeed on the dance floor. More on that later… Anyway, the point is that an emphasis on rhythm over memorized patterns is what makes a wonderful lead as a dancer. This little known fact is truly what sets the good apart from the great.
Secret 4: Mix it up.
There’s nothing that she wants more than to let loose and have a good time when you’re out dancing together. To piggyback on Secret 3, don’t get stuck in your routine of doing the same three moves over and over again. You’ll become predictable and she’ll be bored in no time! With Private Dance Instruction, you will learn what we at our studio call the Rules of Variation. With this very key secret, you’ll be unstoppable when it comes to sweeping her off her feet!
Secret 5: Let the music be your guide.
Finally, there’s one more very big secret that I want to share. (More tips to come in future blogs…) Secret 5…Let he music be your guide. Please, for the love of who knows what, do not do the same dance steps, at the same tempo, regardless of the song that is being played. If you’re into Country music, for example, not every some is going to be a Country Two Step. Two Steps are generally mid-tempo-not too fast and not too slow. You are not meant to Two Step dance to every song that is being played in a Country bar. Some Country songs are Waltzes, some Swing, some Nite Club 2-Step. Each of these dances has it’s own style and personality, so use the right dance to the right music and you’ll be on your way to be known as a fabulous lead on the dance floor. One step beyond this, which I will cover in a future blog, is how to interpret the music to have your dancing reflect the highs and lows within the song itself. This is a super-cool way to stand out, in a good way. 🙂
There are so many more tips that I would love to share with you! Most of all, I recommend finding a local adult dance studio near you and getting signed up for an Introductory Dance Lesson. It’s OK if you don’t have a particular event coming up because when you do, you’ll know exactly how to be an awesome dancer! Remember that anything worth learning takes time and effort, so be patient and enjoy the journey of learning how to social dance.
Check out future and past blogs to discover more about the wonderful world of social dancing. What is one thing you would change or add to your lead to make you an even better social dancer? Comment below. I’d love to hear from you!