Advice on Becoming a Dancer in the Gorge

Becoming a Dancer In the Gorge.

We would like to invite you into the Gorge Dance Community.  This area is so beautiful it draws a large number of Musicians and active people which sets the stage for an ideal dance community.   The health benefits of dance include: boosting memory, improved flexibility, reduced stress, diminished depression, helps your heart, lose weight, increases balance, increases energy, and is a great way to meet new friends.  We have developed Gorgedance.com to make it easier to find dance resources like classes and live music.  There is even a Whatsapp channel for real time insights about who might be going where and last minute closures etc.  This channel can be accessed by introducing yourself as an interested dancer to John Hadley or one of the other Administrators of this group.  All will expect to meet you in person.

  1. Shoes:  Dance shoes are really helpful.  The slicker soles make it easier on your knees for both leads and follows and make the moves smoother.  For leads softer lighter soles make the occasional collision less serious.  For follows lower heals with closed toes are a safe way to start.  
  2. It doesn’t matter what type of dance you learn first.  Use the dance you learn, with a wide variety of music.  Many of the dance moves, inside turn, outside turn are the same whether in swing or salsa, etc…
  3. Grooming- brush your teeth, have a clean shirt, watch out for body odors.
  4. Jealousy- let it go! It won’t help your dance progress nor your relationship. Dance is just a dance- don’t complicate it.
  5. Don’t drink too much. It makes you clumsy and possibly reckless on the dance floor.
  6. Don’t talk (much) while dancing- it’s easier to connect physically without the distraction.
  7. Earplugs save your hearing from loud bar music. If you are interested I use  Etymotic.  
  8. Tip the band and venue.  The history of free music in the gorge is a welcome rarity.
  9. Reassure other beginners.  Learning new things is hard work.  Everybody does their best and becoming frustrated and giving up is an unfortunate possibility.  Also Be kind to yourself – learning is hard and we appreciate you!
  10. Light touch is good- don’t jiu jitsu grip someone’s fingers or arms.  The follows hands have to create a pivot point that swivels freely inside the leads hand.  The leads moves suggest the follows movement and never force it.  The dynamic moves of dance are often an illusion.  Force does not make up for skill.  It will come with dance classes.  Raised and outstretched arms are especially vulnerable to yanking.  It is always ok to take care of yourself.
  11. Close embrace with consenting partners- it’s fun if everyone is into the idea..just be respectful of people’s personal space.
  12. No critiquing on the dance floor!  We are all always learning, and it is very rude to critique, tell or signal someone they are not doing something right, or try to correct them while social dancing.  Even when someone asks me personally to tell them if they do something wrong, I won’t do it because it’s distracting and I’m not in the business of breaking people’s spirits.
  13. To progress take a weekly lesson and supplement that with an additional practice night.  This could be at home with a friend or partner or go out dancing.  Dance like nobody’s watching.
  14. Dance with a variety of partners.  Everyone brings out their A game when dancing with someone new.  It’s more interesting too, than always dancing with the same person.  A great strategy is to try to dance with everybody in the room.  Leading/following inexperienced partners successfully in new moves is a great way to see if you really have the move down.
  15. Don’t pressure or guilt someone into dancing if they don’t want to.  It’s a bad idea to drag someone onto the dance floor.
  16. Do basics in the beginning to assess your dance partner’s level and adjust to his/her level.
  17. Build up the energy by taking it easy at first, and then really go off once the music starts poppin’.
  18. A man or a woman can be either lead or follow.  Most dance communities are lead poor and women learning to lead really helps the balance.  I have also seen the opposite.  Nobody wants to be a wallflower.  Both skills take a lifetime to master.
  19. Follows, don’t back lead.  We have a certain amount of control over our styling and how we look, but leave the patterns up to the leads.  
  20. Leads, if you’re practicing a new move and it’s not working after two or three attempts do something different.
  21. Follows, don’t let styling get in the way of following well.  Styling has to fit into the pattern.
  22. Always smile!   It’s hard to smile while thinking really hard about doing the pattern right or making sure you’re following well, but try your best to make a habit of smiling.  
  23. Don’t look distracted while dancing with your partner.  Partner dancing is all about connection.  
  24. Don’t stare uncomfortably at your partner the entire time.  Maintain a good balance of connecting visually.
  25. Leads, be diligent in taking care of your partner.  Those who throw follows around in turns, dips, cross body leads, without looking negatively affect all involved.  On the other hand the art of floorcraft is really the goal.  Moving like silk as space opens for a moment in an otherwise crowded dance floor and choosing moves that nail the musicality of the song.
  26. Be courteous to others by staying in your space when the dance floor is very full.  It’s very annoying to get hit constantly by the same person or to be pushed into this tiny space on the edge of the floor.
  27. When the dance is over, thank your partner politely for the great dance.
  28. Above all, HAVE FUN!  It’s not social dancing if it’s not fun, so enjoy it without worry.