Location: Atlanta GA
Something that I think about from time to time (and even got asked to comment on as part of a college newspaper's report on social dancing).
While certainly not intending to generalize by any means, I have observed that the friendliness level at social dances seems to be connected to the type of dance it is.
For example, I have personally found that EC Swing events seem to have the friendliest most relaxed atmosphere and people, while more traditional ballroom is noticeably less so at times, somewhat more uptight (though I have been to one regular mixed ballroom studio party that is extremely friendly). WC Swing events I have noticed some uptightness at too (though I love the dancing).
I haven't really delved into the Salsa scene yet, so I am curious of your observations in that realm too.
Any thoughts or observations from y'all?
I've most definitely discovered that no matter where you go there are impenetrable dance cliques. This is especially true of the 2 dance clubs that we belong to. We were members of one of them for 2 years and there were still members that acted like they had never seen us before, that is until I became an officer and then those same folks acted like we were long lost relatives!
Location: San Diego
Great thread Phil!
As far as I see it, salsa, more then any other dance really is a family atmosphere...but not just at the surface level. Once you're in, it is very warm, while if you are not, even if you're treated in a very friendly manner, it is still clear that you're not an "insider." I know that the last time I was in Toronto, it was very difficult to get any of the more experienced dancers to dance with me, since I was an ?outsider? and, since only the less experienced dancers would dance with me, I wasn?t being seen as an ?unknown relative? by the more experienced dancers. Note, however, that in one?s familiar haunts, familial membership is not proficiency based ? this just tends to be the only calling card recognized when visiting other ?families.?
There's also the fact that many "families" (especially these days) have very dysfunctional elements and dynamics as well...so there's definite ?in-fighting" but, because its still a "family", everyone still comes together when faced with an outside "threat." For example, a couple of years ago there was a huge fight in San Diego about if salsa should be danced "on1" or "on2"...people were really getting angry and upset, and clear factions were forming. When it was suggested, however, that the dancers from "x" city were better dancers, well, that was pretty much the end of the division regarding timing (at least as a socially divisive issue).
I think there?s also the more blatantly sensual (/sexual) dynamic of salsa, as well as the Latin cultural influence which all contribute as well?if one looks do be of Latino decent, one is more readily integrated into the family (regardless of dancing ability). Such a person is assumed to have cultural affinity to the scene and to understand that the sensuality and even blatant flirtation of the dancing is not (necessarily) indicative of anything off of the dance floor. Since such an assumption cannot be made about non-(appearing)-Latinos, they are less readily accepted, although, once accepted, are just as much of an ?insider.?
I would guess that a similar dynamic is at least partially in play regarding the other dance forms you mention ? the more body contact involved, the less (initially) friendly the setting?until one establishes one?s ?credentials.?
Anyway, just my take on it?
My general observations are about the same as yours.
With the Salsa scene around here, there are basically 2 crowds. One is very friendly, and just loves to party. The other is the "Salsa Mafia". More like, wannabe Salsa Mafia. It's not that they aren't some excellent dancers, it's just that it's all a big ego trip with them. Believe me, when you get here, you'll spot both within about 5 minutes. Your preference will more or less determine which clubs you prefer, since the 2 crowds don't generally inhabit the same spaces at the same time.
Location: San Diego
Same is true here, even to knowing what area of the floor different groups will be on in the different clubs.
Location: The fringe.
Also observed the same thing;
a) the ultra friendly salseras and salseros that are just happy to be there and to be dancing ...
b) those in cliques, with the egos the size of manhattan, who don't give you the time of day unless you have done soemthing to either piss them off or get recognised.
I'm usually ignored by the ladies of group b), but have a couple friends (as well as my instructor) belonging to the clique, so I just bounce between the two groups.
Location: San Diego
Yup. A few year's ago we labeled these two factions down here in San Diego as "old school" and "star searchers" ? some mutually enjoyable dances happen between the women in the later group and I, and I?ve been around for enough years now so, like yourself, I do cross into the fringe of that group as well.
Location: Tucson, Arizona
About the only unfriendly atmosphere I've seen is from the local WCS club here and that group has a reputation for it. I'm only talking about this particular group and not WCS dancers in general.
Everything else I've been to has been friendly. As for cliques I never seem to notice them.
Location: Germantown, MD
I submit that by far the snobbiest, unfriendliest crowd is hands down, no doubt about it, the polka crowd. When I ask a lady to dance she has to know where did I learn and what style I dance before she even gets up. And, don't even try it if you are not wearing that "Robin Hood" hat with the feather on top!
Location: Atlanta GA
Wow!! Polka was always one of those things I stayed away from, I guess it comes from repeated exposure to The Lawrence Welk Show in my youth (OY VEY!! ).
ROTFLMAO @ the "Robin Hood Hat" comment! Next thing you know, they'll want you to speak in an exaggerated German accent or "No Dance".
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