Friday, February 17, 2012

Be Nice to Your Partner

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I taught a couples-only class this week. I had a great time with it, and I hope the couples did, too.

One of the reasons I felt it went well was that I did a fair amount of (hopefully gently) reminding the ladies to be nice to their partners. Not that they wouldn't have anyway; they all seemed like really nice people. But I've found in the past that some women have very high expectations of what a single dance class is supposed to do for their guy.

It's actually one of my pet peeves. So many women want their men to dance with them. So after X amount of cajoling, pleading, bartering, or threatening, they finally get the guy to try a lesson. In her shoes, my thought would be, "Wow, I really appreciate him for giving this a try; I know he's just doing it for me, but I hope he likes it enough to do more as he becomes confident with it." But sometimes it seems that what is actually going on is more like, "Finally, this teacher is going to straighten his lead out and he's going to boogie with me like a rock star all the time."

Sometimes it doesn't show up on the first couple of lessons - the "honeymoon" phase. But by the third, fourth, or fifth lesson, the disappointments begin to surface. And vocally, too.

"Honey, I can't feel you."
"That's not what she [the teacher] said."
"You're not leading me."
"I'm tired of this step - do something."
"You're doing it wrong."
"Don't you remember anything else?"

Like fingernails on the proverbial chalkboard.

Leading is not as easy as "just lead it." There you are, an utter novice, in a room full of couples who seem to be dancing faster/better than you (feels like the autobahn), with a partner who keeps moving all over the place to music you are aware of but haven't yet mastered, trying to feel comfortable with a couple basic moves, all the while trying to remember one of the fancier steps - oh, and once you remember that one exists, you have to know where and when to lead into it, as well as what to do so she can feel it, too. And smile like it's fun, even though every cell of your brain is exploding with the constant effort.

Now try doing all of that while someone who is supposed to be your partner/friend/ally is obviously impatient, bored, exasperated, or just disappointed.

That's a recipe for a man who will humor her for a little while and then resolutely forsake any future attempts to get him up and dancing.

Ladies, if you truly want to see the day when your man is willing, maybe even a little eager, to take you onto the dance floor, please do yoursleves a favor: give him all the time he needs to learn in the way that makes him most comfortable and confident.

I'm absolutely serious when I say that I don't care if he wants to repeat the box step 400 times to make sure he's got it. Your answer, with the beautiful smile that puts him at ease, should be, "Sure thing, honey, and I'll keep count for us. Ready? 400...399...398...397...396...395...".

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