As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
They had mentioned that they had taken ballroom dancing for a while, but had dropped it for a while because they didn't seem to get much out of it. When pressed, they had told me that the teacher spent a lot of time working on positioning of the body, the turning of the head in a specific direction, and holding that position. While this may turn out some future champion dancers, it doesn't do much for casual dancers who want to get out dancing and have fun. This sort of technique doesn't get the dancers out on the dance floor very quickly since they are constantly reminded to concentrate on their positioning instead of moving to the music (i.e., dancing).
I once walked in on a ballroom class where I saw this beautiful Asian dancer practicing her "lunge" (forward leg bent, back leg stretched as far as possible...ump, never mind that). I remember thinking "who are you performing for?" Some of these people seemed to be practicing for competitions (I believe that's something the studio encouraged), but I didn't see anyone relaxed and thinking about "dancing".
Beginners need to encouraged to start moving on the dance floor as soon as possible. They need to be watched closely to stop any bad habits from developing. As stated elsewhere, 75% (or something like that) of the population learn by "doing" as opposed to "thinking" so most beginners will get bored quickly if they're not "doing" something soon. Teachers need to balance the students' eagerness to get dancing with the responsibility to turn out good dancers.
I got email this past weekend indicating that Rusty Frank of Swing Shift on Tap in Los Angeles fell from a height of 4 feet during an aerial practice and landed on her head, breaking her neck. Due to luck, there was no trauma to her spine, though 5 bones were broken in her neck, so she won't be paralyzed. However, she will be in the hospital for a couple of weeks and will be in physical therapy. She will also be wearing a "halo" on her head for up to six months.
Considering that Rusty and her partner Peter are trained professionals who know what they're doing, one would think that this couldn't have happened. However, that's why they call it an accident and it could happen to anyone. It's bad enough that it happens to someone who gets paid to take the risks; imagine how senseless it would be if a couple of amateurs got hurt doing aerials on the social dance floor. I think that we've been lucky in Boston that none of the untrained wannabeacrobatic dancers in Boston suffered a similar misfortune.
The issue was never about "never saying 'no'"; it was about how and why. For instance, if you've danced with someone who has hurt you, run you into walls or other dancers, was rude, crude, & lewd, or just drags you along for a walk in the line of dance during a swing dance, sure, I know *I'd* say no everytime. I sure wouldn't want to dance with someone who thought I was just a dance prop.
The issue really concerned turning down an offer of a dance with someone who was new or unknown ("unknown" meaning a stranger whom you've never seen dance and can't possibly know if they know how). That's being a snob. This is a case of assuming that someone is a bad dancer without giving them a chance to prove otherwise. There are a lot of talented people, some of whom are still just starting out and some of whom are very experienced dancers. There is no way of knowing which ones will be the great dancers that everyone will want to dance with.
It's also a matter of how one declines a dance. Saying that you're sitting that song out (and making sure you're somewhere else during the next song) is a lot different from saying "No way!" and dancing with someone else for that song. It's detrimental to the health of any dance scene to discourage new dancers from returning for another event. No one likes to be made to feel lower than dirt.
Another friend ventured out to the same swing dance for the first time. This was someone whom I had seen swing dance *before* I ever took my first triple-step. She commented on the fact that some guy danced with her and didn't seem to care that she didn't know that many swing dance figures. He just dragged her through a lot of "moves". I have to ask why someone would bother asking someone to dance if they're just going to do that; a broom would work just as well.
Any form of social/partner dancing involves two people have fun together. If one partner is being dragged through a dance and is made to feel like they don't matter, it's not going to be much fun. In that case, why bother? "Dancing" is about making the movement feel good to *both* dance partners and it doesn't matter if one partner is a lot better than the other. If your dance partner didn't have a good time dancing with you, one has to ask, just in case, whose fault was it?
Damn, I thought I was going to get away without writing about anything.
When sending me information for inclusion in DanceNet, please remember that "more is less" and vice versa. If I get several pages of text from a dance promoter, I will have to spend time to sift through that message for the relevant information, such as time, place, cost, date, phone numbers, URL, email address, etc. Looking at the various entries on this website, there isn't that much information that I'm going to put in so if I have to read through a long message to try and figure out what's important, it's going to take longer to get that message onto the website.
Also, the words that I pick out are the ones that I think are relevant, not necessarily the ones that the promoter would have preferred, and I might leave out something important.
If I have to read through a lot of text, it just increases the chances that I'll push the item to the *bottom* of the pile. Why? Because in the amount of time that I work on a long entry, I can type in a lot more individual entries into the webpages and get more done. The longer the text or if I have to go to a website to find information, the less interest that I will have in listng that event. I'll probably list it anyways, but not necessarily as soon as the promoter might have preferred. I have, at least once, delayed looking at an item until after the event because I had too many other things to do.
Basically, I don't get paid for my time in typing in all the information that I get from the various dance promoters (and I get a lot of them). I certainly don't get paid to put together that information; that's the promoters' job. Short and concise messages detailing all the relevant information in one paragraph makes it easier for me and encourages me to get that information onto the website first. A message that allows me to "cut & paste" without any additional work goes to the head of the line.