A friend sent me a link to TED Talks and the concept of LIQUID LEAD DANCING which questions the concept of stronger, taller, masculine men leading the weaker sex across the dance floor.
If you are unfamiliar with ‘liquid lead dancing” as espoused by Trevor Copp and Jeff Fox, take a look at the TED Talks video which I am having a heck of a time embedding in my blog. Rather than shoot myself, it would less bloody if you were to take a moment and go to Google. Your key words are ‘TED Talks liquid lead dancing’ I’ll also post video on my Facebook page.
In a “liquid lead,” the partners take turns. One partner and then the other seamlessly takes the lead on the dance floor. Instead of listening to one long monologue, the dance is more of a conversation between two equal people. In terms of gender equality, this more balanced approach is counter to the outdated convention that men lead and women follow.
My experience on the dance floor has been mixed. With a good partner, I am more than happy to follow. But with a poor partner (typically one who dances, emboldened by alcohol, only at weddings and bar mitzvahs) dancing is less enjoyable. Too often, shuffling about in a vacuum and lacking leadership, I have heard my partner disparagingly hiss, “If you want to lead, LEAD!”
Mistakenly I assumed that most women had dancefloor experiences similar to mine. No so. Running this video and my experience past my daughters, they struggled to know what I was talking about. Their lack of context could be attributed to their youth. Maybe they were never part of the slow dance generation: maybe the issue only pertains to women of a certain age.
And given my age and gender, when my partner would confront me with my pushy, unladylike behavior, I would give in. Biting my lip, I would silently think, “If you knew how to lead, I would happily follow!”
Copp and Fox think that that model of she cant be taller or bolder… he dictates and she reacts is part of outdated, gender training. “When we dance with a consciousness, we are taking care of each other.”
Watching the video, I was reminded of watching Tango on the Southbank during my London years. This year’s tango festival is April 28 -May 1. (Book you flights today! A shame if you miss it because you dallied.) In addition to formal tango workshops and competitions, dancing the tango is on-tap for passersby’s. Its a Flashmob sort of thing in that a group of strangers gather together in a public space to perform and then suddenly disperse.
Far from the glitz, athleticism and professionalism of “Dancing with the Stars,” Tango aficionados and passerby’s gather on the Southbank to dance in the afternoon. It is a mixed group of ages and abilities. Novices equal the number of the trained dancers. Sweat suits hold their own against those dressed to impress. Dancing on the Southbank feels like a group-hug.
Prior to the common folk coming to the floor, the musicians take their place, and a professional couple steps on the court. The most amazing dance I’ve ever seen (and one in keeping with the notion of liquid dancing) had the couple standing yards and yards apart.
When the music started, the couple (Tango stepping on their own) moved closer together and then back. The partners continued the pattern of advance and retreat while incrementally moving closer with each advance. As the music concluded, the couple touched. Their touch was not a passionate embrace; rather, it was just a touch – a signal: Let’s begin! Everything prior to that touch was flirtatious foreplay. That was dance!
Closer to home, closer to a small town, politicized population, we talk about crossing the great divide. I’m thinking that Contra Dancing is the answer. If you don’t know contra dancing, it is sort of like square dancing, but instead of forming a square, the dancers form two lines facing one another. The musicians play; the caller calls; and the dancers follow, but with the completion of each figure, one line moves left and each dancer faces a new partner. The West Custer County Library has a Contra Dancing DVD or you can check it out online thanks to Google.
If anyone wants to give it a go, get in touch.