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We’ve all got them. Now this is your chance to share your swing dance pet peeves with the world. As Lindy Hoppers, we really are such a friendly and social bunch but in a perfect world we wouldn’t have these secret irritations. Hopefully, by sharing these pet peeves here in writing we can raise awareness of many dance issues that arise without having to point any fingers. The next time someone is guilty of one of these bad habits, you can politely inquire if they’ve read this post!
DISCLAIMER: Please understand that the following pet peeves are not meant to frighten or deter you from dancing. In particular, beginner dancers should not be fazed by mention of dance technique that is beyond their level of understanding. All Lindy Hoppers are absolutely thrilled to welcome new dancers to the community and technical pet peeves express our impatience with long time dancers who have bad habits, not new dancers who have yet to learn what the heck we’re even talking about. Please come, dance and feel welcome!
Want to add a dance pet peeve to the list? Please contact us and let us know!
- Avoidable smelliness. Please make sure to wear clean, fresh clothing and to wear deodorant. You might not think that you smell but people are rarely able to smell their own personal odour. Don’t leave this to chance. Take your personal hygiene seriously!
- Excessive sweatiness. Sweating is understandable but if you know that you sweat enough, please be courteous and bring as many number of change of tops as required. It’s not unheard of to bring 6 extra t-shirts to a dance and to change throughout the night. A towel is also a good idea. No one wants a handful of sweat, or to be sprayed by your sweat, to have your sweat get on their nice outfits, or to slip on your sweat. Think about it!
- Excessive perfume or cologne. One spritz will do it folks. Easy on the trigger!
- Bad breath, coffee breath, garlic breath, onion breath, etc. etc.
General Swing Dance Partner Pet Peeves:
True of both Leaders and Followers!
- Weak frame, spaghetti arms, no connection.
- Statue or overly forceful frame, arms that push or pull, exhausting muscle connection that yanks and shoves.
- Partners who tense up or become frantic as the tempo becomes faster. Please stay relaxed!
- Partners who get lazy when the tempo gets faster, who don’t triple step, don’t motor their steps and help to create the stretch so the whole shape falls off the music.
- Lack of eye contact, i.e. looking down, looking at other people, and generally not paying attention.
- Dopey eyes or creepy eye contact. It’s great to look at your partner so that you’re interacting with them on a personal level but it’s *just* dancing!
- Inappropriate behaviour in general while dancing. We are here to dance not frisk. Any touching or contact not specifically related to leading or following is an absolute violation and is never okay!
- Partners who grip their partners’ hand, either with their thumb or by squeezing.
- Partners who grip their partner’ back.
- Long fingernails!
- Poor floor craft. If you bump, crash or step on someone take responsibility by apologizing and take it as an indication that you’re not being careful enough. A certain amount of bumps do happen but it’s up to the leaders in particular but the followers as well to be aware of their surroundings. If it’s very crowded, you must adjust your dancing!
- Over hopping or bouncing. The dance is called Lindy Hop however this should manifest itself as more of a downward pulse, not a bouncy uppity hop.
- “Tea Potting” which is the generally understood name for rocking the upper body back and forth rather than moving and grounding ourselves with the lower body.
- Partners who are overly apologetic.
- Partners who never apologize.
- Drunk or otherwise inebriated dance partners!
- Talking while dancing. A word or exclamation here or there is one thing, but trying to carry on a full conversation is quite another. Zip it and enjoy the moment!
- Wicking shirts. Nice for you but not so nice for your partner since these materials will often transfer your sweat away from you and on to your partner!
- Teaching and critiquing your partner in rotation.
- Talking when the teacher is talking. Not only are you assuming that your partner wants to listen to you instead of the instructor, but you’re also interrupting the rest of the group.
- Poor punctuality. Nuff said.
Pet Peeves about Followers:
- Followers who pull down on the leaders shoulder, especially with tall leaders.
- Followers who push down on the leaders arm, especially in closed position.
- Over-resisting, either in open on 1, 2 or in closed on 4. Yes, we want to feel like we’re leading and moving you but not moving a freight train!
- Floating pinkie fingers; when the baby finger slips out of the hand hold. It feels so wrong!
- Followers who don’t travel far enough on 3 of the swingout thereby not creating stretch on the face off (3 & 4). If you haven’t gone far enough the move doesn’t work and we have to chase each other. Follow the momentum to the end by going past the leader right into their arm. Also, moving or collapsing in or hovering on 4 of the swingout without waiting for the 5 to be led out. Please maintain the stretch and let the leader move you.
- Followers who anticipate moves by putting on the breaks when they shouldn’t; this is common in turns when the follower stops rather than continuing the momentum of the spin.
- Followers who fly through a move assuming that they know what it is. This is common when followers drive themselves out on 5 of the swingout without waiting to be led, or when they run in on 1, 2.
- Assuming you know what kind of swingout is being lead. It is completely up to the leader when and how they will lead you out on the swingout; straight out, curved, completely backward. Followers must wait on 4 and let the leader create the shape!
- Followers who hijack while their styling, either by pushing or pulling on the leaders or by interrupting their lead completely.
- Followers who close off their frame/who don’t make their arms and frame available therefore cutting off the potential for many moves.
Pet Peeves about Leaders:
- Over-leading: give us room and space to play and breathe. Constant leading is claustrophobic and generally unmusical.
- Leaders who yank on 1 and/or 2 thereby not allowing us to swivel.
- Leaders who pull too hard on 5; this causes us to either fall over or run.
- Over-leading in general; you don’t have to man handle us, we’ll catch the suggestion without being muscled around!
- Leaders who try to lead our swivel by waving their arm back and forth. I swivel because I want to swivel, it’s my decision – not yours!
- Leaders who don’t adjust their repertoire to the tempo of the music. The vocabulary that you use for slow music should not be the same as when the music speeds up. Listen to the music and lead appropriately; inside turns are better suited to a slower tempo while Charleston is ideal for faster music. Have a default game plan so that you don’t have to think so hard when the music does speed up.
- Multiple inside turns. Inside turns are awkward because they wrap the follower up and when you just start winding us around we aren’t able to maintain any frame or footwork. You’re just dragging us around and it’s not fun!
- Leaders who over spin the followers. Give us a break! We don’t enjoy it!
- Non-moves. Leaders have a tendency to lead very vague shapes that are creative but should be used sparingly. Watch your non-moves and make sure your dancing is always rooted in familiar, basic Lindy Hop fundamentals.
- Start & stop moves. Particularly when the tempo gets faster, remember that Lindy Hop is a dance based on stretch and momentum. Moves that are constantly moving the followers and then blocking them (such as fast stationary American Spins) break the momentum. This makes the follower have to run to create stretch again. They’re exhausting and counterproductive.
- Generally poor, unclear leading. If the move doesn’t work, don’t assume that it was the followers fault. Take responsibility and consider your own technique before you blame or become irritated with the follower. We can tell when you’re judging us! Not cool.
- Leaders who don’t pursue dance classes. If you want to dance with all of the wonderful followers, please consider continuing to work to improve your own dancing. Just because there are usually more followers than leaders doesn’t mean that you’re such a hot commodity and that followers should fall at your feet to dance with you. If the followers are working hard to improve their dancing, why shouldn’t you also work hard to be the best that you can? It’s a give and take.
Are we missing your dance pet peeve? Please contact us and let us know!
Mandi Gould is Director & Head Dance Instructor for Bees’ Knees Dance in Toronto and St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.