Rule Four : Dont
Criticize until you have walked in their shoes
Men have no business telling a woman how to dance until
they have danced the woman's part and demonstrated beyond a doubt they are masters. Then
they should put on high heels and try it again ! My guess is you will quickly learn
to bite your tongue.
A good woman dancer is the equivalent of a skilled athlete. It is no accident that
Dance Sport is being added as an Olympic event. Nor is it an accident that graceful
athletes are compared to dancers. A woman needs to have good balance, she needs to have
fast reflexes, she needs to be able to think quickly on her feet, and believe it or not,
she has to be brave.
Just for starters, I have seen women hurt doing acrobatics. Sharon Crawford, the SSQQ
instructor, broke a rib on the Death Drop. I ought to know. I was the idiot who dropped
her too hard. Tresia Reasor broke her foot coming down out of the sky on a Flip. Judy
Price sprained an ankle sliding into the wall on a move called the Slingshot. Amelia Cate
had blood dripping from the top of her head from a guy who dropped her head-first on the
Women wonder all the
time why men think they know so much about Dancing. Take for example the words of yet
another lady willing to share her point of view. This August, 99, note from a lady student
speaks for itself :
Michelle Collins was on crutches for a month coming out of the sky on Chattanooga Choo
Choo. Aimee Atkinson got a broken nose. That's what I mean about the "brave"
part. And guess how many men have been badly hurt that I know of ?
Zero. That's right. Zero. A few guys have caught an elbow in the face, but that's
Having danced the woman's part enough at least to know what I am talking about, I can
safely say you guys have no idea how hard the woman's part can be ! Sometimes for
example your elbows come within a fraction of rearranging a womans facial
structures. Women do not get hit very often, but it is only because she is able to flinch,
duck, or hesitate at the last second.
Furthermore you guys have no clue what it is like to be spun so fast that you have
gut-wrenching nausea from dizziness. You guys have not an inkling what it is like to be
turned five times in a row, then have someone immediately lead yet another double turn
series without a breather. You guys would be shocked at how hard some men jerk
womens arms or how bad it hurts to be stepped on by a two-ton gorilla who
accidentally took two steps in a row with the same foot. Or how bad it hurts to have a
mans thumb doing a root canal into a womans hand. Women put up with these
things because they know you dont mean to hurt them and they sense you are trying to
some Good Advice : Stop Teaching the Ladies How to Dance !
I love my classes at SSQQ, but I wonder if you could give me
some advice about something that has bothered me for awhile. I just read your Advice
article about men who want to instruct their partners. As the woman in that situation,
what would you advise me to do?
I am asking because the problem seems to be growing in the
more advanced classes. Ironically, the guys giving the advice are the worst dancers in
class, and sometimes their instructions are just plain wrong! I dont mind friendly
suggestions from a fellow student as we learn the patterns together, and on the dance
floor I can always refuse a dance. In class, however, I have to dance with these guys many
times, so I dont want to create ill will, I just want them to stop acting like
boorish dance teacher wannabes. So far I have said nothing (but tried to look
appropriately irritated) as I ignored the free "lessons", but as the moves get
more complex, its getting dangerous in addition to being annoying. Do you have any
The main reason men
take dance lessons is to meet women. It stands to reason when a man is attracted to a
woman, he wants to talk to her. Since all he knows she and he have in common is dance,
that seems like a reasonable place to start the conversation. Furthermore, men like to be
in control. Teaching women is a way of being in control.
Q : Is coaching women
an effective technique for getting to know them ?
A : Sometimes yes, most of the time no.
I have found most women
receptive to an occasional suggestion, especially when it is sugar-coated with smiles and
many protestations that you could be wrong. However, this leaves you open to having them
make suggestions to you as well. Will you be as open-minded when that time comes ?
Coaching women to dance
is usually a bad idea. For the most part, women bristle when men try to teach them. For
one thing, it is a violation of their peer status. Most women remember how feeble the
various men were in Beginner class. Now two or three months, the man suddenly thinks he is
so good he not only know the boy's part, he now magically knows the girl's part better
than she does. Bad move. This phenomenon is exactly what the lady in the letter above was
referring to. To a woman it seems like the less a man knows, the more he thinks he knows.
As you might gather from the letter, women strongly resent men who tell
them how to dance. A common point of view is that you the man haven't danced the girl's
part, so what makes you such an expert ? So how good do you double turn, buddy ? You
men bristle when women tell you how to lead, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that
sometimes women get their feelings hurt too.
Worst Mistake of all : Blaming a Woman for a dance
Have you ever heard the saying, "It's always the
man's fault!"? When it comes to dancing, whenever there is a
problem, it almost always turns out the man somehow contributed to the
problem. Although I suppose I have trouble accepting that it is
"ALWAYS" the man's fault, I will admit it is "USUALLY" the man's fault.
Take my word for it, guys, I am telling the truth.
Furthermore, let me assure you that if you try to blame the problem on
the woman, you are making one hell of a big mistake.
Let's say the woman loses her balance. You may or may not be at
fault. But based on my experience, 9 times out of 10, you probably
Let's say you blame the mistake on the woman. The woman is
shocked! She cannot imagine where you get the nerve to blame them for a mistake that you
likely caused or help cause in the first place! Of course women make mistakes in
dancing. No one will ever deny that.
Unfortunately, their success is so closely linked to
your skill level, many times you contribute much more to their mistake than you realize.
When you have given an ambiguous lead or a weak lead, when you have led a move a split
second early or late, when it is dark and they have just an instant to guess what to do,
when you have led a move they have never seen in their life
are going to happen! Even the best women dancers will make the occasional mistake.
I don't care if it is Ginger Rogers, I promise
you any man can make her fall! If you help Ginger off the floor,
apologize, and show regret, chances are she will forgive you.
But if you
start to fuss at the woman be she a beginner or an
expert,...well, frankly speaking, you have crossed a line: the woman feels
Why make a big deal out of it? Social Dancing
is not about perfection; it is about fun! Shrug it off and move on.
Let's say you are convinced it wasn't your fault.
Fine. But it does you no good to pin the blame on Mame. Do
it this way: for your own good, pretend it was your fault and accept the
blame anyway. It is the smart move, guys, trust me on this one.
Even if you are right that it was her fault, you aren't going to win any
points by revealing your true feelings.
Unfortunately, men love to tell women what they do wrong.
Yes, it is in our nature.
thing men think is more fun than winning the lottery is to find some defenseless woman
from a Beginner class, then spend the rest of the evening telling her all the things she
is doing wrong! Whoa Boy! Too much fun!
My personal favorite is
watching men trying to teach women the hip motion from Whip. Most men are totally clueless
when it comes to moving their hips, but then they find some struggling little Beginner
Whip girl. Most guys try the Hokey-Pokey approach : put your left hip here, put your right
knee there, stick your backside out and shake it all about... what a Hoot! I wish I
could capture that one on video. That could make us some real money.
Over the years, I have noticed several men who use
the 'dance teacher act' as a way to get closer to women. As long
as you stick to total beginners and you know what you are doing, I
suppose there is no harm in it. But I wouldn't go correcting a
woman with any experience. They get so mad at you for telling them
what to do!
I would caution you men to drop the
"dance teacher" act. Even though I have little doubt you could do a woman's Baby
Twostep or Baby Swing better than some Beginner woman, you might think twice about
correcting the lady if you knew how angry it makes them.
You would be stunned at the
bitterness some women express to me about men doing this exact thing.
You may think that
you are helping, but you are actually losing points. They would rather you just dance with
them. Now that they enjoy!
It is okay to offer friendly advice, but keep it down to
one pearl of wisdom per customer.
: If the Lady messes up, be a Charmer.
Being a gentleman includes allowing a woman to save face if she makes a mistake. For
one thing, you might have been partially responsible. Second, following is difficult. When
it's dark and people are moving fast, many moves look like other moves and a woman has
only an instant to react. Even with good leads, there's still an element of doubt; the
woman can easily guess wrong. Your lead might have been slightly off to boot. What is the
point of making her feel bad even if she did goof ?
Be a nice guy and lighten things up, "here, let's try again" or "oops,
bad lead" or "that's a real tough step" or "cheer up, that move hasn't
worked with the last 7 ladies I've danced with." It doesn't even matter whether they
believe you as long as they feel you're trying to be nice. Ladies always appreciate a good
Rule Six : If you mess up big time, Apologize.
I dance for a living, yet I still make mistakes when I dance. In fact I make them all
the time. When I do, I apologize. In my position as a dance teacher, I could easily bully
the woman into thinking it was her mistake. Why do that ? Don't let her go thinking it was
her fault. She will respect you more for your honesty.
Seven : Dont be a Hot Dog !
Obviously men like to show off. One of the reasons men learn to dance is to get
noticed. It is fun having people watch. Women like to show off too. The problem comes from
the fact that men have more control because they lead. Sometimes guys lead moves that
embarrass their partner.
For example, an experienced woman dancer can generally make a beginner guy look a
little better, but an experienced man can take a Beginner lady through moves way past what
her class has taught her. This is good, but sometimes this is bad. Men get carried away
seeing how many moves he can lead that the woman barely knows. As a result he often takes
the lady way past her skill level and she gets out of control. In his mind, he is trying
to impress the woman, but the reality is that no woman enjoys being out of control. Bad
move. I call this being a Hot Dog.
Another thing guys like to do is dance sexy. I suppose with the right lady, sexy moves on
the floor have their place, especially in exhibitions and performances. In general though,
for social dancing, dancing sexy is a turn-off for many women. They dont appreciate
men they barely know trying to do moves that embarrass them in front of other people or
touching them in ways that could best be described as inappropriate to the situation.
Another thing men sometimes do is put on an impromptu dance performance. He notices
people watching and decide to show off. Instead of just dancing for the fun of it, he
starts to lead one difficult move after another trying to be flashy. Many of these moves
are too complicated for the lady to remember her footwork on the spur of the moment, so
she loses control. It is almost always the woman who stumbles and looks bad in these
Another thing guys like to do is try out new moves they learned earlier in class.
Unfortunately, they will try them with anyone, even if it is the woman's first dance class
in her entire life. Obviously this isnt fair to a woman who has never seen the move
before. Her chances of success are pretty small. If you are going to try something new or
tricky, my suggestion is warn her in advance. That's right : just tell her. Ask
permission. Say to her, "Do you mind if I try this new move with you ?" Then if
the move works, she'll know you have accomplished something and she'll appreciate being
able to help. If it doesn't work, she won't mind because you were considerate and that
alone puts you ahead of many other guys.
A man should never forget that dancing is a team sport. Dont be a Hot Dog.
Eight : Get Some Rhythm !
Of all the things women complain about in dancing, what irks them the most is men who
cannot keep the beat of the music. Now Men, don't get confused : what women
"hate" the most is guys who hurt them, but what "bugs" them the most
is guys who dance off the beat. Actually dancing off the beat doesnt just bug them,
it drives women Crazy !
People may not realize dancing on the beat is usually an "acquired" skill for
men. Personally speaking, I know I couldn't hear the beat when I started. I had to
constantly "count" the beat in my head as I danced for several years. I would
say to myself "123,123, back step" or "slow slow quick quick" because
it was the only way a mechanical dancer like myself could keep the rhythm.
So if you have trouble keeping time to music, at least you
have lots of company. However, if you want to make a GOOD impression on a lady, you must
learn how to dance in time to the music. You might be surprised to know that only about
half the men at the studio keep the beat on a regular basis. Simply keeping the beat as
you dance would move you to the front of the pack very quickly !
Women "feel" the music more than men do. A woman
often relies on the beat to know how fast to move her feet. When she realizes the man is
not moving his feet at the same speed she is, she has a very hard time following him. Many
toes have been stepped on simply because the man had not a clue at what speed to take his
Many women are surprised when I tell them Beginner men do not hear the rhythm at all.
Women hear the beat so clearly it seems outrageous to them that the guy barely even know a
song is playing. As a man learns to dance, he tends to "dance in his head". He
concentrates on his steps, on his leads, tries to remember what comes next, and is busy
counting the song. It never occurs to him that his count and the beat may be not be the
same ! Quite often the song in his head is nowhere near what's on the floor simply
because he is too busy thinking to be able to listen.
His lack of tempo causes big problems because the easiest way for a woman to follow is
to move to the beat. Even more problematic is the man who slows down and speeds up
periodically. Personally speaking, when I do the ladys part and I dance with a guy
who speeds up/slows down, it drives me crazy too !
The truth is most women find dancing with guys who have no rhythm kind of unpleasant.
They may give you a sympathy dance once in a while, but it is tough for them to enjoy it
as they do the Mexican Hat Dance (many steps and quick hopping feet) while trying to
guess when and where you will step next. The lady will never be able to relax and enjoy
dancing with you if she has to use all her wits just to avoid getting stepped on.
One way to improve your rhythm is learn how to count your dance. Before you even get on
the floor, listen to the beat and count it carefully, then continue the count as you
dance. After a few months, the numbers or phrases in your head will no longer be necessary
because you will feel the beat just like the ladies do. Second, when you are driving,
listen to songs on the radio and practice counting the beat. This is a very effective use
of your time. However remember not to use the accelerator foot or the brake foot to tap
the beat. Just kidding.
Finally, if you are really having trouble, at practice night find a lady whom you
consider to be a decent human being and ask her to tell you when you are dancing too fast
or too slow. You would be surprised at how much women appreciate being included in a
project like this. Most women I have talked to say they wish more men would try to keep
the beat. One lady I asked laughed out loud. She said she had volunteered to help
a guy in her class with the beat and his response was, "How did you know I was having
trouble with the beat ?" Believe me, women know ! It isn't something you
can hide. Rather than lose respect for a guy if asks for help, these women say they would
actually respect him more for trying. Women do not mind helping at all.
You guys probably have only the barest clue how frustrating this is for the women you
dance with. If you have any desire at all to use Dance as a way of drawing a ladys
smile, you absolutely must make an effort to learn how to dance on the beat. Otherwise you
are wasting your time and should switch to another hobby. This is one hill you have to
climb in order to be any fun to dance with at all.
On the next page of Advice the Men, we
discuss Puppy Dog behavior.
Click here for Page 5.