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Do we REALLY need to switch partners in dance class?

It happens all the time in dance classes. The teacher yells SWITCH PARTNERS! But why you ask, when I have my own partner! I want to dance with THEM! There’s several reasons but most likely there is not an even ratio of leaders to followers. Simply, there’s either more ladies, or perhaps more men, in the dance class.

However, I’m teaching at Rendezvous, a couples resort, and there’s a perfect ratio of leaders to followers. However, attend my class and you will still hear me announce SWITCH PARTNERS!
It’s JiveJune and I’m teaching Social Foxtrot. It’s raining outside so we have a busy class: 5 couples and 4 activities staff. 15 people in a dance class, that mean its going to be a party. We will be working on our dance floor maneuvering skills.

One of the couples, David & Carly, I had met a few days before during their first dance consultation.  Normally when I help a couple with their first dance, the initial lesson is at least 2 hours. However I’m in St Lucia and beach time is precious! The month of June is dedicated to all things dance so Rendezvous is offering a complimentary 45 min first dance consultation with a wedding dance specialist —yours truly! Perfect for couples getting married on the resort.

It was Wednesday, Carly and David were getting married on Friday in front of a small group of family and friends. They weren’t too worried about dancing here on resort. However, back in the UK there’s going to be a BIG party. Now the pressure is on for their first dance.

“We’ve talked about it,” said Carly as she looked at David, “But we just didn’t have time.”  David smiled and nodded. “We were just so busy moving house and getting ready for this trip. We simply ran out of time.”
This happens to many couples who are planning a wedding. One of the last things they think about is a first dance. As a dance teacher, I wish it was one of the first.

I asked what is their song. David replies, ”Rule the World by Take That.“  I search for it on YouTube and have a listen.  It’s a 45 min lesson and I need to figure out quickly a routine that fits the song type and their dance ability.

Now for my second question, “Have either if you taken dance lessons?”  They both reply “No.” “Ok, well then we better get started!’ I respond.

I teach David and Carly a few step patterns, and to my surprise, they move pretty well together—like really well. The whole concept of lead and follow was very natural for them. W O W. This ONE concept of the man leading and the lady following can really be an obstacle for couples. Sometimes it is the one thing we work on for an entire hour.
But for Carly and David, it’s smooth sailing on Caribbean seas.

We had great lesson. I was so excited I ran over time.  I wrote down some notes, and they promised to practice! I told them to attend the dance classes on the JiveJune schedule; besides it’s part of the all inclusive package!
So now we are in the Foxtrot class. 5 couples. Different ages from different backgrounds, cultures, and countries. They are moving together and having a laugh, some struggling some floating. Midway through the lesson I say SWITCH PARTNERS.

I get a few strange looks.

I repeat, “OK everyone switch partners!” I joke “That should be the easiest part of the lesson!”

I start the music and everyone starts the patterns. I see David now having trouble doing the steps. Actually a few people, ladies and men, had a challenge, while others continued easily.

Five minutes left in class and I’m about to play the last song. I announce, “Ok go back to your original partner.” You see everyone smile and find their other half. Music and dancing. Laughter and chatting with Micheal Buble singing in the background.

Class ends, we all clap and it’s time for sundowners, a great way to relax after a dance lesson!
Later after dinner,  I join David and Carly for drinks. We chat about the dancing. David said, ”The class was great but I really had a difficult time when we switched partners!”

“Yes, I know, that’s why I do it,” I explained. “In a dance class environment, people are likely to be more polite to a stranger than their own partner. Switching stops most of the fussing.” David and Carley weren’t fussing, but two OTHER couples were.

“But more importantly,” I added, “It allows people to see just how well their partner can dance. You have something to compare things to.”

“Yes, I was really struggling with a few of the ladies,” added David

I continue, “One realises wow I’m not so bad. Or oh this is how it should be lead.  Overall, it really makes you appreciate your dance partner.”

Carley smiled and said “Yes! It sure does! “ as she touched David’s hand.

I saw David and Carly on their wedding day. She has these soft amazing green eyes. She was glowing. David has this confident strength, you could see how proud he was.
They were with a small group of friends and family— all smiles and laughter and love.

#JiveJune at Rendezvous, where #StolenTime allows you to prepare for your first dance, and perhaps rediscover just how wonderful your partner is.

Jennifer Benavidez is a guest presenter for JIVE JUNE. One of her specialties is teaching First Dances. She shares her passion for dance the world over.  @SalsaJennifer

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