Hopefully I can be of help

Recently a male reader of The Blog asked if I could give any helpful dance tips. It seems he was finding the move up to freestyles a little stressful. It’s something I remember well and in Part 1 (see link below) I offered, what I hope was, some helpful advice.

In this second part I’ll concentrate on the need to think about your lady partners. The aim should always be to give them an enjoyable trouble free dance, and you’ll start to get the positive feedback which will help build your confidence. In this way the stress of being a man, with the extra pressure of having to lead, will slowly fade away.

Remember the ladies have as much stress as the men

It is difficult being the lead. It’s particularly difficult when you’ve never danced with someone before, which is half the problem about your first freestyles. Remember however the ladies have their own stress to deal with. They have to second guess what moves the man wants them to do, and that in itself is not as easy as we men may think.

Tip No 7: Keep it simple – beginners moves are OK

It’s all about gaining confidence. Give a lady a nice dance and you’ll get positive feedback, which will help build your confidence. There are lots of ways the ladies judge our dances with them, but one of the most common is that we keep the moves simple.

Remember the ladies have to anticipate your moves, so if you keep them simple you make life a lot easier for them. As men we perhaps feel we have to impress by doing the Intermediate moves we learnt at last week’s class. It’s doubtful if the ladies you meet at the freestyles were in the same lesson, so they may struggle to follow your lead, and you both end up in a tangle of arms.

There’s nothing wrong with doing the beginners moves – at least the ladies will recognise them easily. I’m probably stating the obvious here, but doing beginners moves well is better than doing intermediate moves badly. I use The Man Spin, The Ceroc Spin, Step Across and Travelling Return over and over again in my sequences, and why not!

Tip No 8: Add easy intermediate moves

Sure you want to build up a varied repertoire of moves, but don’t be in a hurry. Add the easier intermediate moves. The Yo-yo is one of my favourite moves. I learnt it when it was a Ceroc beginners move. It now gets taught in intermediate classes and its fairly easy to lead. It’s the same with The Accordian and The Wurlitzer. 

Tip No 9: Don’t do the Pretzel!

Remember you want the dance to go smoothly with out any hishaps, and if there is a move that’s guaranteed, at best, to get you in a tangle of arms, and at worst, have a limb pulled out of joint it’s The Pretzel. Whenever I realised there was a Pretzel in the intermediate routine at a class night my stress levels would rise to frightening levels.

There’s a time and place for The Pretzel – when you are a lot more experienced and the music is a lot slower. As a man I’d suggest perfecting the beginners’ Sling Shot before attempting a Pretzel. So think of your lady partner, keep the moves relatively simple and you’ll increase your chances of getting a compliment at the end of the dance. That’s how to boost your confidence.

Tip No 10: Pick your dance track

Dancing to Queen’s Crazy little thing called love, with its fast pace isn’t easy – not even for me. I’m surprised its gets played as often as it does, for its a little fast. Rushing to ask someone to dance only to find the track is a little too fast is not a good move. Like wise asking someone on to the floor then realising the track is a better suited to the Blues Room can be a disaster in the making. Get a feel of the song before you march off to ask for a dance and sit out the ones that are too fast or too slow.

Currently I find it very difficult to dance to Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the hill. It’s just too fast. As soon as I recognise its introduction I head for my seat. I know its a popular song (though that’s not a reason to play it) so I have been asked to dance to it by inexperienced dancers. I’ll gracefully make my excuses, and ensure I dance the next track with the lady. There are sadly some tracks best sat out.

Tip No 11: Make a favourites list

At some freestyles there can be almost a hundred women in the room. Do not make it your mission to dance with everyone of them. There will come a time when you’ll want to be dancing with new faces but as an inexperienced dancers you’re just putting extra pressure on yourself.

In part 1 (see link below) I talked about being comfortable with the ladies you dance with. Of course you’ll want them to be comfortable with you too. Dance with those you feel comfortable with two or three times in a night. By dancing regularly with the same partner they will get to know your moves and style. Your dances will become more fluent, and that too will build your confidence.

Eventually you will need to dance with better dancers than yourself, otherwise you’ll stop improving, but at the start of your freestyle journey don’t be frighten to make a list of your favourite dancers, and dance mainly with them. That’s not to say that you monopolise them or dance with them more times than might be appropriate.

Tip No 12: Take a change of shirt

At a four hour freestyle, even if you sit out half the songs, you’ll be dancing a lot more than at a class night, and that means you are going to get a little hot. Let’s be honest here – the men sweat a lot more than the ladies, and trust me the ladies notice this type of thing. So guys double up on the deodorant and take a change of shirt. Sadly I sweat more than most and some nights I’ll get through four or even five shirts.

My reputation – I don’t think this is something to be proud of – means some ladies have fun counting the number and different colours of my shirts! Joking apart, guys please do your best to stay fresh. Remember no one wants to dance with a damp shirt.

Tip No 13: Join a Dance Gang

In my reviews I will often talk about ‘The Dance Gang’. This is a group of friends who regularly meet up at dance venues, and we know we’ll get some lovely straightforward dances with each other. We all sit together and share our dance stories – good and bad.

The freestyle scene is also about making friends, who will help and support you with your dancing. You can try your moves out with them, and they’ll always be there to build your confidence back up when you have the inevitable disaster.

Not surprisingly, from the feedback I’ve received, it appears many ladies have enjoyed reading these two articles designed to help the men. I thought I might attempt to write an article giving tips to ladies, who are also thinking of going to their first freestyle. I’ll run it past my female dance gang friends first – I’m sure they also found their first few freestyles a little stressful.

To read Part 1 with six more tips please follow the link