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Define "Social"...
Posted by DivaGinger
8/1/2008  12:25:00 PM
On a snobbier venue for internet discussion on dancing, there's always some twitty little nattering about how the competitive dancers are so loathe to go lower themselves and dance among the pleibian social dancers and whatnot- the arguments go on and on and ON... I have my opinions, you have yours, and that's NOT the point of this thread.

The point IS that there seems to be a misconception about what defines a social dancer, be it on my part, or these other people's. Whichever, I'm just curious to have it clarified somehow.

I always felt a competitive dancer... well... competed, and a social dancer... didn't, or maybe didn't *always* - preferred to just dance at charity events, dances, parties, socials, and anywhere Dave Hamilton wasn't sporting the absolute most DASHING pinstripe suit with his fab little see-through clipboard around the edge of the floor.

I've always called myself a social dancer. I've never competed.

I have one regular partner and dance almost exclusively with him. The exceptions would be my coach, one very pretty fellow that we're not-really-teaching-but-kinda-unofficially, and another of the same ilk.

When I see these discussions on social dancing, it seems that the "social dancers" go to these events with the purpose of "being social"- mixing, interdancing, etc. with everyone, so that got me to thinking...

Am I a social dancer if I don't "socialize" and interdance, just sticking to my "partners"? I don't compete, so I can't be considered a competitive dancer.

My partner and I don't go to dance events with the intent of dancing with other people (not that we discourage it). We're a partnership, we dance with each other, and if we get asked by others or dance with students, that's ok, if not, that's ok, too. So long as we're dancing, we're happy.

Again, we don't compete, but people always come up and say (people who know who we are and what we do) "Oh, well- we're not like you guys, we're just social dancers"... um- what *does* that make us, then? We practice technique and syllabus as religiously as competitive dancers, and even attend comps to study, we're always trying to better ourselves through private lessons, practice, etc. so the social dancers that say this to us assume that we're 'different'. It's just very odd, and I feel like an in-between or a hybrid.

Hmm, a new label could be a-social non-competer. Maybe there's a pill for that.
Re: Define "Social"...
Posted by Curious
8/1/2008  12:55:00 PM
What dances do you do?
Re: Define "Social"...
Posted by CliveHarrison
8/1/2008  12:59:00 PM
It's easier to say what social dancing ISN'T, than to define it adequately.

We would mostly agree that social dancing is not competitive dance sport (but that some competitors dance socially too). Equally, it is not professional dancing for the entertainment of others.

I would say that social dancing is that undertaken in the company of others, primarily for the pleasure of the dancers themselves - so it is a participatory, rather than a spectator activity.

The standard varies widely - but that is true of all sorts of human activities - and I have often observed that competitive dancers are rarely "at ease" on the social floor, where they seem sometimes unable to adapt their dancing (which might be termed selfish) into something that will not interfere with or obstruct the progression of others around the floor.

A social dancer with good manners will always be happy to dance with almost anyone present at a function, regardless of their dancing ability, and should be able to take genuine pleasure from the company of another dancer, if only for just one dance.

On a crowded floor, it may be frustrating to have to limit yourself to very simple basic figures, danced very compactly with little (and sometimes no, progression), but a social dancer adapts himself and his partner to the situation, and aspires to be a model of good floorcraft, and makes the best of sometimes difficult conditions.

We are a cheerful lot, for the most part, and don't hiss and whinge when we can't show off our flashiest amalgamations. We are untroubled by missing the odd heel lead, or dancing a phrase or two out of rhythmn - no one is watching, and we have nothing to prove.

There are among our number a significant number of people, who are obviously having a lovely time, but who can't dance a step. They shuffle around in all sorts of odd directions, and their tango looks exactly the same as their jive - they don't care - and as long as they do not completely dominate the floor - neither do we.
Re: Define "Social"...
Posted by DivaGinger
8/1/2008  1:20:00 PM
For the most part, unless conditions are absolutely terrible (and that's seldom, if ever), a dancing event is what the dancers make it. If one chooses to hate the band, the floor, the people around them, they won't have a good time. If they enjoy the puzzle their brain makes out of navigating the floor, adjusting to a fluctuating tempo, and seeing how close to the edge of the floor we can get, it's actually really fun. I don't think we've ever come out of a place and said "Boy, that really SUCKED", unless a LOT of unexpected cigarette smoke was involved.
Re: Define "Social"...
Posted by nigelgwee
8/1/2008  3:08:00 PM
May I? Leaving out the competing vs. non-competing aspect, I would say you and your partner are sociable (sic) dancers with a very professional (redefining professional here) attitude. Bravi! Go for it!
Re: Define "Social"...
Posted by Polished
8/2/2008  4:51:00 AM
I only know what happens here. No competition dancer would go to a Social Dance here. They go to Practice and training sesions. The only Social that they might attend might be a Xmas dance run by the studio. And there apart from a few friends and reletives they would all be Competitors or Medalists. Medalists I doubt would qualify to be called Social Dancers either.
Re: Define "Social"...
Posted by CliveHarrison
8/2/2008  7:01:00 AM
Medalists don't exist as a separate group of dancers, do they?

If so, where, and what do they dance, and with whom?
Re: Define "Social"...
Posted by Ladydance
8/2/2008  1:16:00 PM
In my experience, social dancers tend to dance in the American style rather than International which needs more space than is usually available.
Re: Define "Social"...
Posted by DivaGinger
8/2/2008  8:12:00 PM
Combining Lady and Clive's answer (saving paper, *snicker*)

We dance predominantly International when we dance. I've never understood the "not enough room"... we've learned to lengthen or compress our strides... in fact, I don't know how else we could have improved on it if we *hadn't* danced social.

When we're out dancing, we dance whatever the band/dj plays. Mostly it's foxtrots, waltzes, cha-cha, rumba, etc. and on occasion we get in a Sssssslow tango (we took some Argentine to help on that)... we dance both American and International wherever we go... with no problems.

To be fair, our studio is lucky enough to have a decent-sized floor, and everyone knows what floorcraft is (because they teach it in group class, the way they should, Lol).

I've never understood why competitive partnerships don't also dance "for fun" (since socially implies interdancing, I guess) elsewhere? Don't they need floorcraft practice? I know some do, for when they call for general dancing between heats at competitions, they can be looking riiiight at you and still almost plow right into you. They're so focused though. But then... it seems silly to think competitors don't also have to worry about floorcraft IN competition. Here they have a routine, AND they have to worry about whether or not that routine will encroach on someone else's space... or is it that they just don't worry..?

It's just always seemed weird to me that people spend thousands of dollars learning how to dance, and then let people tell them they can't because of this or that, here or there.

If you ever go to a seniors' dance and see a couple of early thirtysomethings feather-and-three-ing around the shuffly two-steppers, come say hi, LOL.
Re: Define "Social"...
Posted by Ladydance
8/3/2008  7:34:00 AM
"We dance predominantly International when we dance. I've never understood the "not enough room"... we've learned to lengthen or compress our strides... in fact, I don't know how else we could have improved on it if we *hadn't* danced social."

Where we dance it is not enough to adjust our strides, there are just too many dancers at different levels to launch off into a slow foxtrot and expect to get down the floor. Beginners get flustered when they see dancers coming at them and although we are perfectly capable of getting around them, they often panic and do something quite unexpected. We hate stopping and starting so we stick to American foxtrot.
I always thought that 'social' dancing is more relaxed, less emphasis on technique, my head is not quite where it should be, my arms are kept close to my body, instead of fully extended (when doing a cross-over for example). We laugh and even talk sometimes when we're dancing.
There are a few competitors and instructors in our circle who seem to believe social dancing is beneath them. Or perhaps dancing has become a job and they have forgotten how to dance for fun.

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