Bluetopia is a special event, because it seems to grow every month. There are new faces each time, and that is a wonderful thing. With new faces comes inexperienced dancers, which can drive away the more experienced ones who don’t want to put up with a crowded floor and potential injury.
So… new dancers (and old timers), there are some things to think about at Bluetopia (and just about anywhere).
1) This is not a place to throw big swing-outs (which isn’t Blues dancing anyways… ) or big stretchy moves. While I teach traveling moves, when I teach at Bluetopia, I never cover moves with big stretch, or moves where you send your partner far away from you, because it’s just not possible to do that for most of the evening if the floor is crowded.
2) If you bump into someone, even if you don’t feel like it was a big deal, LOOK and make sure they are okay. A gentle check-in can mitigate any perception of rudeness.
3) If you’ve been dancing for less than a year, don’t wear high heels. If you have experience in Salsa, Ballroom or other styles and you are comfortable with heels and you know how to keep your foot under your body as you step back, then you’re probably okay. When I see new dancers in heels, (particularly street heels, and not dance heels) I get very nervous. I’ve had the top of my foot crushed at a dance, and was rendered immobile for weeks after. You can ruin a career with your heels.
Bring your heels to class and practice, practice, practice until you are very comfortable in them.
4) Avoid leading your partner by their wrist. Your partner is not a child you are pulling with you out of the candy aisle. She or he has agreed to dance with you, and as such, doesn’t need to be coerced with force. Wrist grabs are difficult to escape from, (unless your partner has martial arts training) and when you grab a partner’s wrist and execute any kind of rotation, you’re entering joint-lock territory. I’ve had many conversations with follows who’ve been injured by their partners in just this way. That’s not social dancing; it’s fighting. Some moves look as if they’re led by the wrist, but a conscientious lead will always leave space for the follow to exit, and they will minimize the amount of contact on both sides of the wrist or arm. Follows: when a lead grabs or locks your wrist, hand, or elbow, gently stop dancing and ask that s/he not lead you by the wrist. It’s just not worth getting hurt.
5) Remember, you are dancing with another person! Just do your half – and let your partner do their half. You don’t have to MAKE your partner dance. Smile, talk to your partner, find out who they are. Step to the beat and don’t try to impress them with your “moves.” Save that for the competition floor and the jam circle.