Enjoy this guest blog post from Caroline Helm. Caroline will be leading a Zydeco Dancing Crash Course at Basin Arts on Saturday February 24th, 10:30-12:30pm.
More details here.
by Caroline Helm
“Wow, Caroline, you sure do care a lot about dancing!” You are darn right I do! Cajun dancing saved my Dad from a life of alcoholism. Dancing gave my Dad and I a relationship. Dancing introduced me to the qualities that makes this area different from everywhere else — music and culture. Learning to dance at young age shaped who I am today. I do care about it and I do have a lot of opinions about it.
Ok, now that I got that off my chest, let me tell you why I hope for you to care.
Two people moving together to a song, one leading, and the other (actively)following, is a magical, transcending experience. Once you have experienced this, and you know that it exists, it makes you want more. However, it can also cause problems when you are unable to achieve the magic. That, I believe, is why many people do not attempt to dance, and/or reach a certain “dance plateau” and don’t advance. These people may say such things as, “It’s just not really my thing,” or “Why can’t we just relax and not have so much structure?”, or “I’m good where I am.” The people saying this have not experienced the magic.
I promise you…you want the magic.
What you don’t want is the psychological and physical effort that comes with getting to the magic. You may also fear that you cannot reach the magic quick enough. We are currently in a very confusing time regarding women and men, relationships, sex,feminism, etc. This is, however, a perfect time to use dancing as a new way to learn to communicate with each other.
The old model, which consisted of women standing around and waiting for men to ask them to dance is dying out. These days, less men know how to dance therefore the women ask each other to dance rather than waiting around. This has created a culture of women getting better at leading and following, and more men feeling insecure and not needed. What is sad about this is that we (I) do not want it this way! I want a man leading, and I also want the magic.
So, we have a dilemma.
Within many couples, the follower is the most experienced or “stronger dancer”. Consequently, the follower is attempting to compensate for the lack of leadership by the so-called leader, weakening the lead even more. This is creating imbalance and therefore less magic.
Often, the less experienced lead (usually male) is blamed for not leading.
This is a almost a legitimate judgement because it is the lead’s responsibility to lead. However, it is also the follower’s responsibility to follow.
If the follower does not like the experience of dancing with their partner, the follower either needs to learn to A) communicate needs and wishes to the partner B) say no, or C) say let’s take a dance class
“But Caroline, my partner gets offended if I say something!” For the magic to happen, BOTH people need to check their egos.
Ego is why we are not all experiencing the magic. The quicker the lead learns that it’s ok to not know everything and that he needs to be open to learning, the quicker the magic will come. The follower (usually female) also needs to realize that just because she is currently “a better dancer” than the lead, that does not mean that she is at the top of her game either (sorry gals).
If two people are going to learn to work together towards the magic, patience and commitment are an absolute must. A lead who is not committed to learning how to lead will be picked over eventually. A follower who insists on leading the leader will continue to exacerbate
In conclusion, yes, you can have the magic. Yes, it will be humbling. Yes, you will need patience. And yes, it will be frustrating and potentially cause some relationship tiffs. I really believe it is worth it. Why? Because it will teach you both how to communicate more effectively.
Dancing is a very intimate act that you can do often (outside of the bedroom). It is one of the most enjoyable things about living in South Louisiana—but you won’t know that until you really
experience the magic.