A Quick Note on Floorcraft*
At two recent events, I went to some dances that were packed, and thinking I’d try to show some students a good time, I made the horrible mistake of asking them to dance. I just as well could have asked someone to join me in getting kicked in the soft part of the ankle for three minutes.
And these weren’t the random, apologetic kicks of someone who misjudged their Charlestons. These were the far-worse, apathetic kicks of people who simply didn’t give a damn about anyone else on the dance floor, even their partners, because THEY were feeling the music. (Actually, to be more precise; they were more likely trying to make everyone, including themselves, think they were feeling the music.) I got kicked so many times I can’t count, and only heard ONE SINGLE APOLOGY.
This of course happens all the time, (it was even part of swing back-in-the-day; the movie Twice Blessed used it for comical affect.) I just happened to experience it twice in under a month, a thousand miles apart, and at a time when I was exhausted from teaching people how to be considerate to their dance partners all day. I was also jet lagged and in the general mental state one gets when being woken up at 4 a.m., and thus I had dropped any silly niceness my normal demeanor has and could despise these people with the proper amount of hatred they deserved.
I could write a long essay on floor craft, (and I did for today’s email, it even involved the phrase “The Texas Tommy the Nazis used on POWs” ) but I’m going to cut it short by simply saying: If you want to engage in partnership dancing, your first priority should be making sure your partner is not in any danger. Otherwise, try solo dancing.
Likewise, if you are going to enter a tight dance space, let me know what logic you’re using to make you think you can dance like it’s your space alone.
I might adopt that philosophy; and make sure I find a space next to you. ***
*–I just love footnotes. Even when they’re pointless.**
**–Just kidding. The (*) footnote symbol was leftover from when I looked up from the original draft and realized it had grown to three pages worth of writing, and I wasn’t anywhere finished about talking about floorcraft. I then put in the (*) footnote mark, pointing to a footnote that said: “Of course it’s not quick. It started off that way, but this is Bobby writing, so, of course it’s long as hell.”
***–Original ending of this short note added the sentence. “And trust me, there’s one hard-core mother f*cker waiting to come out of me.”**** Which Samuel Jackson would have nodded in agreement at looking at me when I wrote it. It felt great to write, a cathartic moment writer’s live for. I guess I have some pent up feelings on floorcraft.
But, re-reading this, it only would have made sense with some of the extra stuff I had put in.
****–If you question the amount of hard-core ness that is available in the body of a dorky anglophile theater nerd, then you haven’t seen me play basketball against hypocritical theologians.
*****–Kate thought I should simply title this essay “A Quick Note on Floorcraft” and just show the picture of the monkey knife fight. I love this girl.
SPECIAL OUTTAKES FROM THE ORIGINAL VERSION:
These will probably be reworked into a longer version for Swungover, but I thought you might be interested:
(Tip #3) If the floor is packed, no one will see how cool you look anyway.
(Tip #79) If you ‘re dancing on a packed dance floor, the leader has a new set of worries. He has to think about how his choices will hurt his partner indirectly–like sending his follow into someone else. He also has to worry about how his actions will effect others beside his partner. Like, if he turns his rock step into a mule kick, he might be kicking a follower in the thigh. (This happened to Kate once.)
(Tip #317) If my humanitarian reasons don’t convince you to be a little more mindful on a packed dance floor, then maybe an appeal to your self-centeredness might: It’s a little motto I love called: “Practice doesn’t make perfect; practice makes permanent.” Dancing “hard core” in a tightly packed space will only mess up your “hard core” dancing for when you can better use it, like when you have space to dance “hard core.” (By the way: I’ve been to some places where the general Lindy Hop was actually circular, and looked like the love-child of Lindy Hop and Balboa-swing, because the people were so used to dancing in tiny, tightly-packed spaces for their local dances.)