The "Rules" of Engagement Are Made to Be Broken
"...But I've been waiting all night - you promised me a dance!!!"
"......You danced with (insert dance company member here) - now you have to dance with me!"
"...So what you're dripping sweat and need oxygen..just breathe deeply a few times."
"...You have a cramp? Dance it off...it'll pass."
Have you ever heard any of these phrases when you're out for a fun evening of dancing at your favorite club? You've been dancing all night, you're dripping with sweat, can't catch your breath and your feet feel like someone dropped a ton of bricks on them, but yet and still a would-be dance suitor is extending their hand, expecting you to join them on the dance floor. If you refuse, citing the need for oxygen and your eminent collapse, many folks will get indignant and storm off in a huff, no doubt planning to trash your name to anyone who will listen. This is how some get to be known as "dance snobs": once a dancer reaches a certain level, they become sought after, which is a good and a bad thing. Good, because your dance card is full. Bad, because your dance card is full and you cannot possibly accommodate all who wish to dance with you during the course of an evening.
Normally, there are more good female dancers than male, and the guys have their pick of ladies to dance with. When that happens, the guys do like to dance with the advanced salseras, but most will dance with a variety of women. I often hear ladies say, "(Great dancer)" won't dance with me. He doesn't dance with beginners". Overall, I don't find this to be true. I found that by politely asking guys at a higher level, they danced with me even when I was a beginner. However, some ladies don't realize that they cheat themselves out of dances by employing "The Rules". You've all heard these before:
"I'm a beginner - I don't spin well. Don't spin me more than once".
"Don't dance with me like you dance with (Great Dancer). I can't do those moves."
"Look, you can't do all that twisty stuff with me. I'm not Gumby, you know."
"Boy, don't you know I'm old enough to be your mama? Why are you turning me so fast?"
...And so on. When too many rules are put on a dance, it isn't fun anymore. Guys like dancing with women that go with the flow and have a good time. It doesn't matter to most that you don't execute every move perfectly - just have fun doing it. They don't put you on their "Do Not Dance" list if you miss a step. And if they do, it's their loss. Don't assume everyone is like that because one person did it.
But occasionally the balance shifts, and some ladies find themselves engaged in a game of "musical dances". Men will seek you out to dance several times throughout the night, and if the DJ is smoking, song after song. At a certain point, you will need to take a break, and that's when the "Mambo Madness" begins. Generally, salseros tend to congregate in the area where their friends are, which means that the guys closest to you are usually the ones that will grab you for a dance. After two or three (or ten) songs, you decide to sit down and take a break, get a soda, go to the bathroom and sponge yourself off to maintain some semblance of your appearance, and that's when the drama begins. There are those that tell you "it's just one dance - you shouldn't say no to anyone". However, I disagree. I will not dance with anyone who is:
- Lacking in good hygiene
- A rough partner
- Drunk and/or Disorderly
Now, some people would find these the only acceptable reasons to refuse a dance. But there's also one more: you just don't want to dance at that moment! And this is a point that some refuse to concede. Dancers are human - we sweat, get tired, our feet hurt and sometimes we don't like the song or just don't want to dance right then. We may want to adjust our clothing or shoes, or maybe we finally saw that person that only comes out dancing once every 6 months and want to talk to them. But no matter what reason you might have for not dancing, sometimes people refuse to take no for an answer or will try to make you feel bad for saying no.
Because I am a dancer myself, I realize that some people are quite popular and need a break. As a courtesy, I try to be sensitive to that and not ask them to dance when they are walking off the floor in search of their water and/or towel after dancing five fast songs in a row. If nothing else, I may approach them to ask them to "save me a dance" later in the evening and hope it works out. I don't take their agreement as a binding contract and try to hold them to it for the rest of the night, following them around the club, glaring at them and acting salty if they accept a dance with someone else before I could run them down.
Let's face it: on any given night, everyone will not dance with everyone. They probably won't even get to dance with those they set out to, just by circumstances beyond their cotnrol. So please remember: dancing is supposed to be a fun social activity. Just have fun and keep dancing!