Things to Never Say to Your Dance Partner

When you understand how to dance, it can be the greatest feeling in the world, but learning and overcoming yourself can be a struggle. All fun aside, learning to dance is not only a physical challenge but a mental challenge that is not made easier with comments from the peanut gallery. Take these hints about what not to say to your dancing partner:

  1. “That’s not how you lead it!”

If you are the follow: Your partner is not trying to confuse you on purpose, but they may not be sure of the best way to lead that step, especially if it’s new to them. Saying something like this only makes your lead feel dumb, incapable or disinterested in dancing with you again.

The Politically Correct response: 

  • At a party: “I’m not quite sure I followed that correctly, would you mind leading me through that again?”
  • On a lesson: “I’m not sure I get the movement. Can I see you and the teacher do it again?”
  1. “You have to follow me!”

Similar to above, if you are the lead: This could be a new step for your partner.  So go easy on them.  The last thing you need is to have your partner think you are some kind of jerk!

The Politically Correct response: 

  • Help your partner save face: “Sorry if the moves get a little confusing. I’m trying something new”
  • On a lesson: “My part did not feel quite right. Let’s try it again!”
  1. “You’re not on time!”

Nobody is purposely trying to go off time.  Typically timing issues occur when people take their attention off the music and put it on some other move or technique they are attempting to master.  But if dancing off time is like nails on a chalkboard, here are some options.

The Politically Correct response: 

  • As a lead: Stop and say “I think I lost the music. Let’s try again”
  • As a follow: On a lesson say “Can we try that again without the music?”
  1. “You’re too stiff!”

Newsflash, most people (especially guys) are stiff when they are first learning to dance and this may come as a bigger surprise, but, they already know they are stiff.  So the reality in telling them they are stiff is not helping and if they knew how to not be stiff they would be more relaxed, so don’t grab their arms and force them to loosen up.  In the history of dance, that technique has a 100% failure rate 100% of the time.

The Politically Correct response: 

  • Learn a new concept and say nothing. Dance the new concept for 3 months.  More than likely your partner will be more relaxed.  *If it still feels stiff consult your teacher.speak last.jpg
  1. “You look like a robot”

Please refer to #4 and replace stiff with robot.

  1. “You don’t do it like the teacher…”

To a dance partner and/or life partner, this is pretty much like saying my ex-lover was better at that than you.  Comparisons are a killer, so avoid them like the plague. Plus, chances are your teacher lives, eats and breathes dance, which means he or she has been doing this for a while and is passing on information and should not be your lead’s competition.

The Politically Correct response: 

  • Even though you don’t feel you have the problem, put it back on yourself. “Teacher, could you show us this move again.  I’m not sure if I am following it right?”
  1. “Why is it she can follow me through this and you can’t?”

This is the leads version of #6.  Comparisons can kill a partnership not only on the dance floor, but also in life.

The Politically Correct response: 

  • On your lesson: “Teacher, could you show this to me again. I’m not sure I’m leading this right?”
  1. “Why can’t we do it like them?”

When couples compare themselves to other couples, it’s a recipe for disaster.  You don’t know how often they take lessons, how often they practice, or if they came in with previous dance experience.  Again, this can ruin the dance experience for you and your partner.

The Politically Correct response: 

  • Dance, have fun, say nothing and keep your focus on you and your progress.
  1. “Why can’t you remember? We just did it???”

This often happens because what you are focused on does not happen to be what your partner is focused on.  So when your partner forgets something that you just learned, it could be because they are focused on many other things.

The Politically Correct response: 

  • On a lesson or at a party: “Can we try that again and focus on these particular things. I need more practice.”
  1. Repeating to your partner what the teacher just said in the same words and language…

This is probably the worst one to see as a teacher.  When a person who normally understands what the teacher is saying, has their partner repeat word for word what the teachers has just said, this makes a person feel like a child.  So unless your partner is a child, leave the teaching and critiquing to your teacher.

The Politically Correct response: 

  • Keep your mouth closed.
  • If your mouth opens, place a hand over it.
  • If it persists place both hands over your mouth.

You came in to have a good time and are now armed with an even better approach next time you have a dance lesson. The next time you are on the dance floor, you can feel more supportive and enjoy learning and dancing with your partner. 

What are some things you have said with good intentions but came out wrong and what was your politically correct solution?

Keep dancing!

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