There are plenty of things that you can think about when you go out social dancing. If you want to be known as a rockstar follower here are a few things that could make or break your night!
1. When asked to dance… Say yes!
Sometimes we forget how much courage it takes for someone to ask you to dance, so be polite and say yes as much as you can. As a follower my rule of thumb is unless you are injured, have to visit the restroom, or your drenched in sweat after dancing 45 min straight, if someone asks you to dance – you dance! If your goal is to know know as ‘THE’ rockstar follower its best to start with saying yes!
2. Be really really nice…. to everyone… Including beginners!
Sadly in the past, I’ve heard people say, “They’re beginners…I don’t want to dance with them,” or something of that sort. We were all beginners once and if you were like me, you were nervous, a bit intimidated, and unsure of how everything was going to go. Give newer dancers a chance to get better, give the same opportunity to grow that you had… in fact make it BETTER than it was for you! Time to pay it forward, followers, and give the leaders a shot! Some of my best dances have been while doing the basics in whatever dance we were dancing, but doing them cleanly and being musical at the same time.
3. Don’t assume you know what’s next… You don’t!
“Dance First, Think Later…It’s the Natural Order” ~Samuel Beckett
I learned this tip the hard way. When I first gave partner dancing a shot, this was extremely difficult for me, as it is for most followers I’ve taught along the way. Coming from a ballet and fairly regimented dance background, when I didn’t know what move was coming up next, I freaked out and immediately tried to anticipate what move the leader was going to do next. This is not helpful what-so-ever and makes for a rough social dance.
As the follower, it is not, I repeat, It is not our job to dictate/back lead what pattern is coming next. We are followers not mind readers. Half the time the leaders don’t even know what’s coming up next, so how could you? As a rockstar follower, it IS our job to connect to our partner correctly. That part we can control. Focus on making sure your connection is correct for the dance you are dancing, and that your personal footwork is accurate and precise. Followers, we have to remember: we’re along for the ride, so enjoy it, be ready for anything! Don’t fret about what’s next…just dance!
4. Compliment your partner… With your dancing!
These days I dance quite a bit of west coast swing. Its a purely social dance environment where I will inevitably come across a wide range of leaders. Some good and some not so good. As a follower I try to not outshine my partner. Instead, I use whatever the leader is giving me to play my part in the conversation of our dance. Maybe its an arm line or a little body roll where it’s appropriate. Learn to utilize what your leader gives you, and play within your own footwork and pattern in a way the neither outshines nor dumbs down your dancing. Complement, adapt and try your own personal styling within what the leader gives you and you both will have a more enjoyable dance!
5. Be nice…. Yes use your manners!
In general, always thank your partner for your dance! (This goes for leaders and followers!) Whether it was the best dance of the night, or a little rough – graciously thank your partner and go on with your evening. A little kindness and smile, or my personal favorite, a high five, can go a long way.
Written by: Emily Larsen
For more great information on following and west coast swing, please visit: WestCoastSwingOnline.com
Emily has a dance degree from the University of Texas. She is also a full time Ballroom, Country and West Coast Swing instructor at Dance Louisville in Louisville KY.