If you are a single person, you have to go out to the community and practice with whoever is at the dance, but if you’re an engaged couple, or any couple, you have an advantage. You can practice at home until you feel confident enough to get out in the real world. But what if your place is too small, has wall to wall carpets, or otherwise leaves you with no place to practice.
This is an idea that is particularly great for engaged couples, but can work for anyone. I got this idea when I was learning advanced country western in a now defunct bar in Hayward called the West Forty. I always dance lead when I’m learning a new dance so I can teach it, so I went with a girlfriend who is a great follow. We soon found out that the West Forty, while offering great lessons, not only did not have people rotate partners but also did not allow women to lead, no matter how many extra women wanted to be in the lesson.
As it happened, The West Forty was right across the street from a lesbian bar. We both danced follow in the lesson, I took copious notes during the intermission, and my friend memorized the follow part during the lesson. I was doing my best to translate everything in my head to the lead. After the lesson it was still early. We went across the street where the dance floor was empty because it was early. I figured out the lead with the help of my friend and finalized my notes. That was the way I learned to lead modern two step, but the idea it gave me was that early evening dance floors in bars are usually empty and a great place to practice.
If you are an engaged couple, and there is an appropriate bar in your neighborhood, you can really milk this. Tell the bartender that you are practicing your first dance and ask if it’s alright to use the floor. You get to hook into the “Awww” factor. This is the one chance in your life to really delight some strangers, make new friends, create a cheering section, AND have a regular place to practice. Everyone likes to be part of something romantic, so once you take the leap and ask, you will feel welcome and spread some of your own joy while you’re at it.
If you’re not getting married, you can still just explain that you’re learning to dance and want to use the empty floor to practice. It’s just sitting there, and your decision to learn a partner dance is a cool thing anyway that is likely to get a favorable response.
Just make sure it’s convenient. If it’s too far away or parking is a hassle, you probably just won’t go. Buy a drink for good will, and you’re off and running!
By LaurieAnn Lepoff
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