YDLTIS 02: Flashy Faux Pas

“Keep flash like deep dips, assisted lifts, and air steps OFF the social dance floor. The original dancers knew it was dangerous outside of performances or competitions, and that’s still true today.”
Good for: int. dancers and above, esp. after air/dip classes

It’s easy to get carried away when you learn something with that undefinable “cool” factor.  And when you’re feeling the music, it might make you want to throw your biggest, flashiest, most amazing move onto the floor.  Part of the problem is that movies have taught us all this flash happens during high school dances, or sock hops, or busted out spontaneously like it ain’t no thang.  And as far as people’s capacity to perform these moves…well, you don’t have to reach too far into Hollywood’s canon to find examples of the ridiculously adept beginner dancer/love interest/main character who, without any training and with nothing but a blazing heart, is able to swing out their partner or be thrown around the room with nary a scratch.

In reality, flashy moves require focused training to execute well and safely, in addition to a high level of trust and partnership to perform them with another person.  The original dancers would practice these moves with a dedicated partner over and over before busting them out during dance competitions like the Harvst Moon Ball.  But during a social dance, especially dancing with friends and people they didn’t know, they kept their dances grounded, comfortable, and smooth.  In social dancing, the comfort and pleasure of your partner is Priority Numero Uno.

Maybe you think you can do a flashy move just a liiiiiiiiiitle bit, and it’ll be all right.  Maybe you think you know a “safe” version or have enough experience to make it happen if your partner knows it or not.  But these perspectives completely disregard the comfort of your partner.  Your partner doesn’t know if you have experience or not.  They don’t know if it’s all going to suddenly turn wrong.  A partner caught unawares during flash is the perfect mix of startled tension, unprepared balance, and uncalibrated energy that makes injury of themselves and others not only easy, but more likely.

You Don’t Learn That in School (YDLTIS) is a blog series that highlights swing dance etiquette not always covered in dance class.  Each phrase is short enough to use as a “tip of the week” at the end of class or in announcements during a social dance.

One thought on “YDLTIS 02: Flashy Faux Pas

  1. Oh, yes. On the most narrow level, some dancers are so focused on their wondrous agilities that they don’t always consider the space between themselves and the next couple. Imagine a body — think of the physics course we never took or the driver education class we dozed through — weighing a hundred pounds and moving through the air in surprising ways. Even the most gorgeous body has the power to do astonishing harm. On a larger or broader level, this post (and so many of Lori’s) are about the need for communication and empathy. You are delicious, Ms. or Mr., but you ain’t the only critter at the feed tray. “First, think of others.” should be stencilled on the wall of every public building, whether there’s music playing or not. Blessings on Lori for addressing this theme in her own shining way.


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