It’s a sad truth that many more dance steps are taught every day, then how to lead or follow them. Lack of attention to – or interest in – technique inevitably leads to wrenched arms, crushed toes, and bruised egos. Sometimes it might seem like you have no choice but to ‘grin and bear it’ until the song ends. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You have multiple options for how to handle the situation, nearly all of them meant to get your point across while sparing your partner’s feelings. You could walk away from anyone who smudges your nail paint, but be aware that you are building a reputation as a high maintenance dancer – and lowering your chances of actually getting dances.
Could you fix something in your technique?
Yes he’s turning you strongly, but maybe you can increase tone in your arms to hold them in place. Sure she planted a heel on your toe, but was your foot supposed to be there in the first place? It’s easy to blame our partner for all the mishaps that happen in the dance, when it might actually be an opportunity to spot a bad habit in our own technique.
Remember The 4-alarm Warning System
Assuming you’re sure you’re doing all you can on your side, it’s time to implement a simple process to decide what the appropriate response should be.
1. Let it go
For first-time offenders, just stay quiet. Maybe she was distracted for a second, or he misjudged how much lead was necessary for that oversway. Of course, if the injury is more serious, you can progress straight to step 3 or 4.
2. Feign injury
The second time something hurts, it’s time to speak up. A little white lie can go along way towards sparing your partner’s feelings: ‘I’m sorry, I banged my arm yesterday. Could you be a little more gentle with it?’ This let’s your partner know he or she needs to ease up, without attacking them directly. Incidentally, most people take the hint if they get similar comments from multiple dancers.
3. Make it clear
A third offence, especially in the area you previously complained about, requires a more direct response. For instance, ‘I know you didn’t mean to, but It really hurts to be dipped like that. Could we avoid that step?’ I know you didn’t mean to, is especially helpful in softening the blow, as is expressing what you’re feeling, rather then what the other person did.
4. Walk away
At this point, it’s clear your partner is not being sensitive to your needs. Claim dizziness, a need to rest or drink water, whatever you like. Then walk away, whether he escorts you or not. It’s not worth risking a serious injury to continue, and just teaches your partner they can get away with it.