In my personal experience in ballroom social dances, I've often found a clear line being drawn between active competitors vs. social dancers and sometimes even between open-level dancers vs. syllabus dancers. As irritating as it may be for me to see people only dance within their respective cliques, I've sort of shrugged my shoulders at that attributing it to the fact that people in general (myself included) will often prefer to dance with 1) dancers at or above their level, 2) dancers who share similar experiences and motivations, and/or 3) dancers with whom they are relatively comfortable with on a personal level (friends, dance partners, significant others or potential love interests etc..). Having said that, I will always try, however, not to refuse to dance with someone simply because they do not meet any of the above criteria. After all, social dancing is about meeting and having fun with different people.
~Virginie~ < !--color-->
Am I the only person on this board that doesn't social dance at all?
Yes, I think I've found the same sort of division at least as far as the competitive/social split goes. My level of interaction with competitive dancers seems to have changed since I stopped competing. Not like we never dance together or anything (though in some cases it may come close), but it's kind of like they're a separate group that I'm no longer part of so it's just a different type of interaction now. Part of it's probably me, too, though. I tend to have a different feeling towards people who I knew as advanced dancers when I started and thus were always above me and people who I originally knew as beginners and saw come up through the ranks, even if they've surpassed me now as I'm sure many have done. I'm not so sure about the open/syllabus level split, but it might be there as well.
I think you're right on all three points and there's not a whole lot that will change those factors. However, like you I will also dance with pretty much anyone who asks, as long as I know the dance they're asking for. I may not always ask people, but I rarely turn down requests from others. I think that most people are like that and I think that's OK. It's something of a compromise between making sure you enjoy yourself and helping others enjoy themselves. Most people at the ballroom socials I've been too seem to be generally friendly and approachable. But then again, I've been with the same general crowd for years, so I probably see things differently from the way a newcomer would see them.
Location: Rockville, MD
Besides the supersnooty polka crowd, I have to say that salsa dancers can be (hate to generalize with "are") very snobby. For a female to go to a club and expect to dance with good male salsa dancers is probably too much to hope for around here. Only when they see that you are good (although for the life of me I have no idea how that can happen if you cannot dance with anyone good to be seen as such) will they come inviting
As for other styles: I have been slightly exposed to the EC swing scene and I must agree that generally it is very friendly, much more so than salsa. As for ballroom, I am firmly in the clique now but when I wasn't, I found it pretty unfriendly, especially at my usual favorite social dancing hangout which I used to hate when I wasn't in the clique.
Probably not an issue in most parts of the world - shaggers. Not that they're socially snobby amongst their own group, but they usually make it clear they do not welcome other styles when they have the floor. I guess I don't take it as social snobbery coming from them, since they seem to welcome anyone who wants to learn their style. It's more like a certain sort of dance snobbery, done to protect what they seem to see as a perfect form that shouldn't be changed. (Their version of "No new steps"?) But whatever. I have zero problem with people segregating their style, long as they aren't buttheads about it. I'd actually like to learn some time. The Tangueros are pretty much into their own thing as well, but also friendly if you want to just tango.
Back on the Salsa thing - I know of a couple of places where the mafia usually doesn't show up until late in the evening. There's a bit of crossover there, as the newbies usually wander off after a while. So do I, eventually, as I just don't care for the feel of it once all that cooler-than-thou stuff starts. How high school! For me, Salsa is a purely tribal thing. On-the-one, on-the-two, who cares? It's all about getting a salsa trance on, which I love. Far as I'm concerned, pretty much anybody who wants to get way down deep into the sweat of it is cool enough. The minute somebody wants to get all "elite", the tribal buzz is screwed. Interesting paradox there, messing up the tribal thing by doing a clique thing, but it's not a paradox I want to be bothered with. Not on a Saturday night.
As an active competitive dancer I have discovered that men that know I compete are intimidated and therefore hesitant (some are downright afraid) to ask me to dance. Although I never turn anyone down and will adapt to whatever level the man can dance, even if that means just standing there shuffling my feet along with my partner. I am equally intimidated when I dance with someone above my level (silver) - ever seen a deer in headlights!!!
Location: Atlanta GA
I LOVE your attitude PSBD!
I too have been very fortunate to have danced with several competition level women who were very kind, gracious and accomodating, and didn't seem to give a flying hoot that I was not a competition-level dancer myself. That's a beautiful thing indeed!
I'm the kind of person who'll dance with just about ANYONE at a social event (swing being my fave). It pains me so much at times to hear a partner constantly apologizing, and with the biggest smile and most loving, gentle voice a guy can muster, I make it a point to tell them that dancing is supposed to be FUN, so don't worry if you make a mistake, if anyuthing, do it twice like you mean it, laugh it off and enjoy, you're not defusing a bomb!" Kind nurturing words like that can make such a huge difference in how a person percieves dancing and if they'll want to keep going with it. I was very fortunate that the woman who taught me was sooooooo kind and encouraging and gracious, and had a dynamite sense of humor to boot! One should never forget where one came from.
If by some odd fluke of circumstance I wind up in Texas one day, I'd love to dance with you!
Phil Owl - Your post made me feel so good it was just what I needed, thanks!!! You deserve a great big virtual If you do end up down here I'll definitely save a dance (or several) for you and if by some chance I get up your way (most of my family is in New England) or Atlanta (you're relocating aren't you) I hope you'll have one waiting for me.
Location: Atlanta GA
You're most welcome psbd!! I'll definitely have room on my dance card for you. If you are in NE before the end of this year, please feel free to PM me or e-mail and let me know. Boston has a ton of cool places to dance! I'm planning to hit Atlanta in January.
Your friendly neighborhood Owl (currently competing at Aluminum Level )
Location: SF Bay Area
I, too, do not dance socially and didn't when I was competing. Main reason was I was concerned about picking up bad habits and getting my foot stepped on. Plus, I would come there to dance and talk about dancing. Most of the social dancers would talk about other aspects of their lives and it usually were aspects I wasn't interested in. No offense to anyone intended. Sometimes a person has to branch out to find their niche.
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