“I can’t dance. I have no rhythm. I have two left feet. I learned some ballroom dance in high school and just stumbled through it.”
Welcome to the world of those who are not dancing, but also to the world of those who once didn’t dance, but now are. All of us dancers started as non-dancers; we missed steps and leads—and still do at times—but less so, for we continue with lessons (lessons are part of the social engagement of dance; a night out, if you will) and going to dances, and so we now we’re waltzing and swinging across the ballroom dance floor for most of the evening.
We learn ballroom dancing by doing, and in doing we enter a world that is fun, social, full of learning, and that has at its core respect and consideration. Ballroom dancers learn to be aware and thoughtful of one another.
Yes, we dance lots with our sweeties—of whom we must be thoughtful and considerate, sweeties whom we know and who will not hesitate to tell us if we’re being too rough or not holding frame. But also, during lessons and open dancing, we’re with other partners of different dance and physical abilities, of which we must be cognizant. An older partner we might want to spin more slowly than we would a younger partner. It’s important to hear, too, if someone has had shoulder surgery, and with all dancers we don’t want to be too tight on hands or wrists.
The lead dancer’s job is to set their follows up for success. Leads don’t over-dance their follows but instead work to make them look good. On the other hand, with an experienced follow, a lead can dance up to that person’s ability, which adds to the creativity, variety, and excitement. However, with anyone of any level, three moves done well makes for a fine dance.
Ballroom dancers are social creatures. They actively pursue fun. Dancing got my wife and I out in the community with others at least once a week. Our home base had been USA Dance Kitsap in Bremerton, WA, where kind people invited us into the ballroom dance fold. We now live in Port Townsend where we’re trying to find (or establish) ballroom dance.
In Port Townsend we hear lots of East Coast swing, some West Coast swing, and in some venues Lindy Hop. However, we’ve experienced very little of the waltz (slow waltz, not the fast, polka-like Viennese waltz), cha-cha, rumba, night club two step, foxtrot, country two step, samba, or meringue that make up a variety-filled ballroom dance night. Though we appreciate the bands and we have fun, after three East Coast swings we’re thinking, “Please play another rhythm.”
We’re hoping—via the spreading of this message, and as more people take ballroom dancing lessons—that bands will learn to play for dancers by incorporating different rhythms and appropriate pacing into their repertoire.
The best venues in the Port Townsend area that I know of for swirling-across-the-floor ballroom dancing are the Port Townsend American Legion, Sequim Elks, and possibly the Port Townsend Elks (though they’ve not really started up dancing). I hear that Centrum hosted a wonderful Polka Dot Dance recently at McCurdy Hall on Fort Worden (my regrets that I was not able to attend that dance). I’d love to see ballroom dance lessons in the Port Townsend area (but we dancers are suffering from a lack of ballroom dance instructors here; wonderfully, Janice Eklund is teaching in July and August at the Sequim Elks).
Two left feet? I’ve never met ‘em yet. I have, however, met lots of beginner dancers who learn step by step, and who usually, in a year or two, have grown and developed by taking lessons and going to dances, and who now swirl across the big dance floor, having fun. See the Port Townsend Dance Calendar on this web page at https://mrmconservation.com/port-townsend-dance-calendar/