What is the point in social dancing?
For some new comers dancers in bachata, this expression Social dancing is unknown. We need to clarify what is social dancing because actually it has a big influence in your learning and education process as a follower or leader in dancing bachata. Read entirely this article and implement a new action in your dance life, it can make a huge difference!
What is social dance?
A social dance is any dance that is done purely for pleasure, with other people, as opposed for performance purposes.
Anyone who is physically fit can dance, but it is an advantage to have a good posture and a good sense of musical rhythm. There is no age limit. It is customary for a gentleman to take a lady as his partner, and for the gentleman to “lead” and the lady to “follow”. Leading and following means that when there is a choice of steps, the leader will choose the steps and the follower will take the “natural opposite” follower’s steps.
In order to become a social dancer, you should attend a dance school, where you may be taught by a professional dancer or a professional dance instructor.
Here are some facts about social dancing.
⦁ Anyone who is moving to music in a social setting is said to be social dancing.
⦁ Social dancing is done with a partner – either touching or not.
⦁ Unlike competition or show dancing, the moves are smaller and more compact.
⦁ It’s appropriate to dance during social activities whenever you feel a need to express the music.
⦁ People love to dance with each other as we crave human touch while enjoying the good clean fun.
As opposed to just performing?
“Social dancing” usually means the dance is not choreographed, i.e. the Lead and Follow did not agree beforehand on the sequence of moves they are going to perform. The Lead thus sends signals to the Follow during the dance, and the Follow needs to process the Lead’s signals and to follow the lead. This is not a stage to perform but a dancefloor to enjoy and have fun and respect.
So you say, “We are social dancing” to mean we are dancing together for fun.
Socialize while dancing
The point is to socialize while dancing. The point is sharing with others, friends, acquaintances or strangers, your love for music and dancing for no other reason than to enjoy their happiness.
Admittedly this is going to be a rather tall order if you are only thinking about the new combination you learned this week and are trying to remember how to lead, how crappy the music is, how disconnected from the music and each other you and your partner are, how crowded the floor is, how few people are admiring you and how pointless all this appears, given that in three hours’ time we are all going home.
Social dancing is not payoff time, it is not the final destination where everything clicks and you feel justified, vindicated, satisfied, or affirmed. It is another part of the journey that demands still another effort, because you have to stop thinking about yourself and instead you have to overcome your shyness by saying hello to complete strangers, you have to be present, nonjudgmental and vulnerable to bad luck and criticism, you have to smile, think about your partner and the couples around you.
The kicker is that it is so much fun. But that only happens if your entire dancing process is about fun. If it is about appearances, competition, perfection, one-upmanship, justifying your learning process, being part of a crowd of finding someone to get laid with, forget it. You will never see the point in it.
Respecting the body language of their partner: comfortable dancer vs uncomfortable dancer.
A comfortable dancer will ensure that their partner is not forced into a close hold, and will suggest movements to a partner. At the first sign that a partner feels uncomfortable, a comfortable dancer will not push that boundary forward. If a partner, at any time and for any reason, changes their body language or verbalizes that a movement is not welcome, a comfortable dancer will respect and act on that wish WITHOUT JUDGEMENT:⦁ Avoiding movements that the partner has verbalized will aggravate injury – whether or not the injury is apparent
⦁ Opening a hold if the partner tenses or attempts to move away
⦁ Remove particularly sensual vocabulary if the partner physically or verbally expresses that they are uncomfortable with that mood – whether or not the movement is based in actual desire or is ‘just dancing’.
An uncomfortable partner judges a partner, attempts to “fix” partners, and may pull a partner into an uncomfortable close hold – sometimes because “that person dances with other people like that!”
⦁ Sweaty clothes/skin
⦁ Bad breath
⦁ Too close a hold
⦁ Forcing movements
⦁ Personal Space boundaries being infringed
⦁ An uncomfortable/unwelcome sexual undertone (including feeling unwanted parts of the body)
⦁ An attitude rubbing the partner the wrong way
So really, in the end, being a good partner is more than 50% common sense and respect. If you can respect all your partners you can be a comfortable dancer forever!
Keys to improve your social dancing?
“Dance with many, dance often, and between dances…”
LEADS in Bachata
Leads, you need to dance with dancers that are not necessarily good. Find the opportunities and take them. In doing so you will learn what it takes to lead, how to make adjustments to your partner, and the difference between a move learned in class and a move executed on the dance floor. See every dancer as someone that can teach you something by trying to understand what you are trying to do for the next 3-5 minutes.
Understand that what makes someone a good lead is not how many moves they lead, but how clearly they lead them, so that the follower doesn’t need to guess what’s going on. The mistake is when the guys try to make to much stuff and style without caring of us. So i would suggest to the guys to watch, listen to the lady, her body, how she is reacting, in the leading.
To be gentle is also important. If the guy cares of me, build a good connection, the technique is not the priority to enjoy. Connection number one is from hands, build a frame and a communication with the lady. Maybe from outside it doesnt look perfect but inside it creates a good feeling. For the good leader is to lead precisely what he wants to lead, not too strong. In Sensual Bachata we have much isolation, body moves and tension.
FOLLOWS in bachata
Followers, you need to dance with people that are recognized as accomplished leaders. I’m not talking about the leads that talk about how great they are, but the ones that other followers clamor to dance with. The leads that make every follower look spectacular; they can do the same for you. Don’t hide from them. You will learn that the lead doesn’t have to be strong to be effective.
You will see how quickly they adapt to your level, and help you to feel that you can do no wrong. That’s what a good leader has spent years developing. You don’t have to tell them your level, they will figure it out in the first few seconds. You don’t have to tell them not to lead you through double turns; they can tell if you’re ready for that after leading you through a single.
All you need to do is relax and enjoy it. Ladies, to be a good follower, you need to breath and relax as much as possible. Try to understand all the small signs generated by the boy and try to understand when and where you have to put some tension in your body.
LEADS & FOLLOWS in bachata
The Pyramids weren’t built in a day. They Ancient Egyptians didn’t say “Well, we have a bunch of rocks, lets see what happens when we stack them up…” Instead the plans were laid, the end result was detailed on papyrus, there were meetings, approvals, recommendations, revisions, and re-submittals. Only after a final design was blessed by the Pharaoh did the actual physical labor begin. At least that’s how I like to think it went. It’s OK to take 10 years to plan the building process for something that you want to last for centuries. While the exact approach will not be the same when it comes to improving your social dancing, it remains important that you have a goal. While you may say:
“ I am able of a great social dancing!”
“I want to be as good as <insert your dance model here>”
How can we fully enjoy at Bachata parties?
“Do not correct the mistakes of your partner at the party, enjoy!”
In order to enjoy, bring a cuba libre haha. Actually yes, bachateros all around the world: when you drink 2 cuba libre, you start thinking you dance better and after a 3rd cuba libre you do not care anymore about if you dance good or not haha.
There are not “written rules” but there are rules connected with the “common sense”. Let me explain the rules first and then the tips. For me the rules are very simple, if you are a gentleman, be a gentleman, ask politely the lady to dance. Try to connect first. If you have an advanced dancer do not try to do all the cool moves you know just to show off, try to adapt with the level with your lady because the lady has to enjoy.
The problem is that sometimes the enjoyment is missing, i see people correcting each other on the dancefloor. This is a mistake, a dancefloor is a place for enjoying. Take the time during the workshop to practise but during the party go for a drink, enjoy the dance. Guys, be gentleman, a lot of girls want to have a great mood, this is a connecting moment. And when you miss a step, just smile, laugh and have a fun.
We want to have fun ! It should not be a source of stress. Allow yourself to have a special night, dress, date with dancing, perfume. It is a special time. This attitude changes the mood and atmosphere you create. It doesnt matter the venue, artists, people if there is not this attitude of creating a great moment, a great energy. If you come with a positive energy, and the people the same then it generates a channel of positive experiences.
About the tips, do not do any complicated stuff. If you are a guy and you dance with an artist do not try to impress. They think the artists will enjoy more. But it is more about the connection and musicality. We are not the most spectacular dancers when we dance social, we make the lady enjoy with soft moves and after if they feel ok, you can grow up the dance. Social dance is not a stage to perform, social dance is to enjoy. Express, do not impress. Dance basic first and build a connection.
Bachatera y bachatero, being a social dancer is a fantastic thing. It means that you feel, deep in your core, a desire to connect with other human beings. It means you have a desire to be empathetic, caring, and in tune with the energy around you. We desire to create, channeling our energy into a beautiful experience that is always present and never replicated in any other place. And, unlike many things, we choose to create these magical experiences with a partner.
To go further in your social dancing:
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