Monday Musings – Dancing Friends
A professional dancing couple can really set the floor on fire. You can always spot them very easily and they are incredible to watch. Two people with a very obvious spark and connection, who have a lot of opportuntiy to practice together and who can easily read each others signs and signals. But as much as I enjoy watching these couples on the dancefloor I have recently enjoyed spotting a different type of couple to watch when taking a breather. And that is the “Dancing Friend” couple.
This type of couple is made up of two people who have been dancing together for a decade or more. They know what each other can and can’t do, know the best tempo and track to dance to and know each other so well that they can dance with the minimum of signals. They can bring in new things that they have learnt and are eager to share as well as dipping into a collection of favourite moves and steps. They are a joy to watch.
The best thing about this type of couple is that you get so many variations of inviduals making up the couples, especially in an area that where dance classes are well established and there is a large surrounding community. These are the people who have stood the test of time and circumstance; who reliably turn up to social dances week in and week out. In my experience of spotting these magic couples, most are experienced in several different types of Swing dancing; Lindy Hop, Balboa and Shag, and many women can lead and follow. All the better to improve their chances of spending the whole evening on the dancefloor with as many different partners as possible. And these are often the people who help the instructors in the continuation of a successful and friendly dancing community.
The instructors and event organisers are the ones who set the tone on their events, but these are the people who help to maintain it. There’s always something very comforting and welcoming about coming into a room filled with people who are moving from table to table to greet everyone as an old friend. Those entering as a beginner may feel awed by so many groups of people, but this welcoming feeling is very pervasive and they can see what to expect from the future.They see couples mixing, leads taking out single follows and follows taking out single leads. And most importantly they see people who are good friends enjoying dancing together, just for the joy of dancing. In short they see the dance as it was meant to be seen.
I am currently reading the biography of Frankie Manning and his description of the early days of Lindy Hop in the Harlem ballrooms. Obviously in Frankie’s time there absolutely were those star couples who would feature prominently in the Cat’s Corner of the Savoy, as well as partners for their professional appearances and competitions. But overall he talks of halls of people dancing; groups of friends enjoying the music and each other’s company. And it is so easy to picture because I get relive it every time I go to a social dance in my local dancing community. A room full of people dancing to excellent music, enjoying each other’s company with no regard to anything beyond choosing the right partner for the right music and the right moment.