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Don't make new couples change partners
Posted by RL
11/5/2016  12:34:00 PM
If you're a dance instructor and you want to expand your group classes, you REALLY want to make your class a friendly place for couples.

I know, I know. There are a hundred reasons why it's better for learning to change partners. You being a good little teacher are trying to create good habits right off the bat. However, most of the couples who come in are looking for a date night and are not concerned, at least initially, about becoming a great dancer. They just want to be in each other's arms. If you force them to change partners or make them feel awkward about staying together, they're not going to come back.

In my younger days, I taught ballroom at a very successful studio that had at least as many couples in it as singles, which was so unusual for that area, that other studio owners would often come to the lady who owned our studio and ask how she was able to maintain so many couples. The secret was simple: #1) the female teachers dressed modestly, #2) THEY DID NOT FORCE COUPLES TO CHANGE PARTNERS.

You may think that this would create a beast, but it did quite the opposite. Couples tended to stay with their significant other for the first year (give or take), and as they became more comfortable, and saw the benefits of changing partners, they did. We also always had plenty of singles at the parties so no one ever felt left out. I do remember a few nights when the couples greatly outnumbered the singles, but those students always reported that those nights were their favorites because they got to dance with the teachers multiple times in the night.

It's quite simple. All you have to do when you ask your class to change partners all you have to do is tag on this statement: "It's not required that you change partners; however, you will become a better dancer if you dance with more than one person, so we recommend that you do change partners." Then you leave the choice to your students.

I have known so many couples who have told me that they tried going to a dance class and quit because the teacher made them change partners. Just recently, a couple told me about an experience they had at a Tango group class that they had gone to for a date night, but they didn't get to dance together at all, so they vowed never to go back. That makes me outrageously angry. Dancing is so good for people on so many levels that it makes my blood boil that some teachers (and other students) make it uncomfortable / undesirable for couples to come and learn. I've even heard students say that they PURPOSELY make couples feel uncomfortable because they don't want them to come if they're not going to change partners. I don't even know how to respond to such snobbery. It must come from a deep place of insecurity. I would encourage that person to take a deep look within themselves and ask why it bothers them so much.

Anyways, I hope this is helpful to teachers who want to make the want to make the world of dance as open and friendly as possible (and who may not have considered the benefits of making couples feel more comfortable staying together).
Re: Don't make new couples change partners
Posted by Swing2016
1/17/2017  3:59:00 PM
This is a good topic. Where I take my lessons, they have a rule that people should switch partners for every dance at parties. Not everybody is comfortable with that. I do understand the reason for the rule though.
Re: Don't make new couples change partners
Posted by Guest
1/17/2017  7:18:00 PM
In a studio in a class I would expect to change partners. One way is for all the ladies to be seated after each dance and the gents to pick a partner in strict rotation the lady in the first seat being number one.
In a Dance not a class. If you want to mix people up. Have a Ladies or Gents invitation.
Or an excuse me dance anybody can cut in by tapping on the shoulder. Or another way is have one couple on the floor as the music stops they will pick a new partner which means the number will double every time the music is stopped.
Re: Don't make new couples change partners
Posted by nloftofan1
1/18/2017  10:20:00 AM
I usually dance with one partner (who I happen also to be married to). But at dances there are often "mixers," and I enjoy the opportunity to dance with several partners, trying to determine each partner's skill level and dance accordingly so that we both have fun. I understand why some people resist dancing with other partners. I was that way, when I was much less experienced than I am now. I changed my outlook--gradually.
Re: Don't make new couples change partners
Posted by RL
2/26/2017  10:59:00 AM
nloftofan1, I think your story is an excellent example of a studio that did a great job! When you first started, they made you and your spouse feel welcome to stay together. Over time, you saw the benefits of changing partners and when you were comfortable, you did! That's wonderful.

Studios that put too much of an emphasis on changing partners early on lose students. The reason that they do this is primarily (if we're being honest) so that singles don't have to sit out as much during socials when the numbers are uneven. However, teachers can use this as an opportunity to grow your classes by encouraging your singles to bring someone of the opposite gender to the next class / social. Also, you should hire teacher aids that will be able to dance with singles.

Again, if the teacher explains the benefits of changing partners without making couples feel awkward for not changing, the couples will almost always see the benefit eventually and gradually begin to change partners without being coerced into doing so.
Re: Don't make new couples change partners
Posted by bob
3/3/2017  3:21:00 PM
I have been dancing for 2+ years and what you discuss here is part of a larger issue.
Women who don't mix!! I am a single guy and (I'll admit) I took up ballroom dancing mainly to meet women. All the time and money (private lessons) that it still takes, is worth it if I get to dance with lots of women at social dances. Notice I said social dances. That's how they are listed, people are supposed to mix.

Imagine my frustration when I see a lady at a dance I really want to dance with, but noooo she just dances with the same guy all evening. I know not to approach her if I see that. So I wait, and wait, but to no avail.

I have also had the experience of women (professional dance instructors, usually) telling me they can't dance with me because they are "working", which means they are paid escorts for that one guy for the evening.

And so I watch them glide across the dance floor, wondering what would it be like to be with them, but well aware that I may never know. As the poet says "So near, but yet so far".
Re: Don't make new couples change partners
Posted by nloftofan1
3/6/2017  10:07:00 AM
Many dances have "mixers" (chair dances, snowballs, etc.), usually at a break. For 5-10 minutes you have a chance to dance with several partners--and meet them. Keep looking.
Re: Don't make new couples change partners
Posted by ladydance
3/10/2017  6:55:00 AM
You are presuming that a woman dancing with one man doesn't want to dance with anyone else. Try asking her. I have seen this same situation at my studio and it turned out the woman liked to dance with others but was never asked. Ask everyone, including instructors. Most women do not ask men to dance. As for instructors 'working', I have never heard of such a thing. Most instructors like to be free at a party to dance because it might result in a new student for them.
Re: Don't make new couples change partners
Posted by nloftofan1
3/10/2017  10:28:00 AM
The practice of paying instructors to accompany a student to a dance and partner the student is very common, at least in this area. Our favorite dance instructor (also a friend) called them "dance whores."
Re: Don't make new couples change partners
Posted by bob
3/16/2017  2:58:00 PM
Hi, its bob again. I have tried what you suggest and in my experience I get a shocked "no" from the woman and a dirty look from the guy she is with. Let's face it, quite a few men feel "this is my woman!". Also, I don't want any trouble and I certainly don't want to get any blood on my shoes when I beat the crap out of him (ha!).

Dancing, like alot of things I suppose, is an exercise in human nature. I try to read the women at dances. Should I approach? Is she available? How does she dance? What kind of dances/movements is she good at, and/or like? And, How does she look at the guy she is with? bored? amused? turned-on? just being polite? or is she a mystery?

There is also something called "date night" which seems very odd to me. If they just want to be together couldn't they stay home and play the radio?

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