The Politics of Swing Dancing

Los Angeles has a very large swing dance 'scene'. You have championship dancers mingling with upper level dancers, amateur competition dancers dancing with beginners, and casual learners all mixed in. It's a very diverse group with lots of venues, bands, and events that happen in the area.

I've been in the 'scene' for a little over a year. I enjoy the dancing and trust it takes to partner dance with a stranger. I also enjoy the times I dance with my friends. I love learning the dances from my teachers (those championship dancers that I mentioned) and I'm often told I'm good at it and 'one of the best' in the classes I take.

The joy I get from dancing, when I'm able to really get into it is great for me, but it's the social dancing that often makes me want to give it all up.

Bluntly, leads don't want to dance with a fat follow. Leads don't want to dance with a follow that isn't attractive enough to them.  I mean, I can't change their mind, you're attract to who you are attracted to. What frustrates me is that should not apply in something as simple as social dancing. That is my consensus. How did I come to it? Observation and conversation.

The Lindy scene has a lot of cute girls. A lot of them can't dance, but they always get asked. I remember standing with a group of five girls, and a song began to play. The five girls, all varying degrees of skill level were all asked to dance within ten seconds of the song starting. Me? I stood there looking around, making eye contact with other leads, only to have some (I shit you not) look me in the eye, go right past me, and go ask someone else.

Did I not smile enough? Did I not do what those other girls did? They smiled, lead came over, they were asked to dance, and they danced. I did that, except the lead asking me falls short. "You need to ask them," I keep getting told. Fine. But when 9 out of 10 times you dance, you are the asker, you get tired of it. It feels very one sided, especially when you see your girlfriends just finish a dance THEN as they are walking a way, get pulled out by another lead.

Yes I'm jealous. I want to get better. I want to stop being seen as a reject. I want to stop bitching about this to unbelieving friends. Some of my friends try to empathize, but they can't. I have one friend, who I really enjoy. She started dancing literally 5 months ago, and because she's cute, she has learned as much as I have in half the time and less money. Why? Because she was lucky enough to get into the friendship fold of the good dancers. Jealous.

I was bringing this up to my friends and some don't buy it. But then I started chatting with some girls I felt may be in the same situation I'm in, and I was shocked to learn that it's more real than I thought. The passing up, the ignoring, the shitty dance because the lead clearly does not want to dance with you, or the blatant 'no' some leads will do to an ugly follow. I was talking to one girl for nearly an hour about it, and we had some of the same stories. "I have a friend who is nearly 400 pounds, and she is the lightest follow I've ever danced with. That's one reason I learned to lead," she said, "so at least one of us would have someone to dance with."

It's so heartbreaking at times. I mean, I routinely go to Lindygroove, and I can't tell you how shitty I feel after I leave that dance venue. I stand with a lot of the other girls, and I'm often ignored. I ask a lead, and I often get a shitty dance because he DOES NOT want to dance with you. I mean, how good can a dance be if someone does not want to dance with you?

There seems to be two types of follows in the scene: A follow who is at some level of attraction to the lead and gets asked to dance chronically, no matter the skill level, and a follow who is so good that you hear leads say, "she's a great dancer" no matter what she looks like. I have to get to the good dancer level as fast as I can because I don't 'fit' in the first category. That's been made clear. I just don't know how to feel about it all. It's exhausting circumventing my emotions for some thing that should be an enjoyment.

I want to get better at it, I want to get good, but this social dancing isn't working for me. I need encouragement.

The first couple are my dance instructors. 
They won this competition. 
Check out 4:02, its phenomenal.


  1. Sorry to year about this aspect of somthing you love ... and people who haven't been affected by it often won't notice, if only cos they're too busy dancing to see it!

    I think it's sad for those who may never be expert and aren't pretty ... some things bring us joy even if we'll never be expert.

  2. This is a sad read. It reminds me of school dances in Lower Secondary School, which was no picnic. Is there a forum, say on facebook or elsewhere, where you could address this?

  3. I love your blog and I love your honesty! I have tried to comment in the past and for whatever reason it won't let me, so let's see if this goes through. You are clearly a gem. It's sad world that can't appreciate that. Dancing is so joyful, it is extra-sad that it gets all crapped up with that shallowness. Is the scene big enough that there is a venue or crowd you haven't tried yet? -one that has a better attitude? I hope you find your dancing-home!

  4. In the 4+ years I have been swing dancing I've been asked to dance three times. I don't go out dancing as much as you do because we just don't have as many venues here in Mayberry RFD, but I understand and have encountered the same situations. I'm not "cute," I'm a big girl, I'm tattooed, colored hair, whatever. I've asked them to dance before, been turned down or if we dance, I've gotten the same bad dances. I have a couple lead friends I've made that do dance with me and when we dance, it is good, but as for strangers asking, I gave up, it was just frustrating. I wish you luck.

  5. How about dancing with other girls? When my husband and I were taking classes (over a decade ago) there were never enough males in either the class or at dances. In all the time we went to dances (we stopped when we had kids), my husband got asked by a ton of women but I never got asked by guys because the guys were always in high demand. I got asked by lead women a lot more because lead women just want to dance. Lead guys were looking to meet chicks more than actually dance.

  6. Thanks for posting this. I've wanted to learn to swing dance for almost 5 years but the scene here is very small. I'm tall and black in a short white world - this issue makes me reticent to move forward with swing. Unless I can talk my bf into learning with me - hahahaha!

  7. That stinks and I'm sorry to hear it. You seem like one cool chick from your blog. At the end of the day an asshole is an asshole, even if he wears a nice suit and is a great dancer. Don't let them get you down!

  8. I thank everyone for the replies. Truly, your comments make me feel better about it. Im just frustrated.

    Inky, thank you. I know it happens to other girls, and its not the same for the boys. They can get asked to dance because girls rarely turn them down. I almost wanted to start an 'ugly girl' swing dance contingent, just because :)

    I mean, I've even thought of protest of holding up a sign that reads "I can dance too!" *sigh*

    Andrea, in class its pretty much equal, give or take on girl now and again. A lot of couples are in my classes. Not all, but a few, and I guess having a partner at the ready is different.

    Plus there are a lot of beginning leads and frankly, Im tired of being held back. You don't learn anything form a lead that is just starting out, and he does not want you to give him any suggestions, so you are just a practice dummy for 3 minutes not learning anything or having fun yourself.

    Another blow to my ego was one guy who is a good friend and dancer was out last night. I even asked him if he wanted to partner up, but I guess he didn't hear me and I shit you not, an hour later my friend said she had asked him to be her partner and he said yes. I. Was. Pissed. Not at either of them, but at my luck in all of this.

    I just cant win.

  9. I came across some of that behavior when I lived in Washington, DC, but never to the degree you are experiencing. I'm so sorry you have to go through that. Keep dancing and stay positive. Good leads will soon follow :-)

  10. Hey Shelley, I used to use fore-arm crutches and people thought it was the polio part of my vintage costuming efforts. My friend from Jamaica would always save the last dance for me. A "lady" actually pushed me over moving in for a chance to dance with him. In his loud, clear-the-stadium-there's-a-fire voice he said "Ah yes,the toilet you are surely looking for is right over there mahm."

    Watching this song always makes me feel happy.

  11. I don't think I've ever commented, but I've been following your blog for about 6 months. I found you through Gail Carriger.

    Anyway, I used to dance swing and salsa in Florida, and although I guess I'm fairly attractive, my weight does tend to go up and down pretty dramatically. I'm also just a hobby dancer, so I'm not particularly good, but a good lead will bring out the best in my dancing.

    Anyway, I feel your pain. I have asked men to dance and been turned down. Once, I got really angry. Admittedly this person was a stranger, but he was in a group with one of my instructors. I asked him to dance, and he literally told me "no, I'm waiting to dance with that girl." pointing to a very good dancer who was dancing with someone else. The thought that went through my mind, was, well, while you're waiting you could dance with me, but I left it alone. Even my instructor, who would dance with me one on one if the class was having a party on campus, would sometimes turn me down in the clubs, which was particularly frustrating because he WAS someone who knew me. Again, I think it was my level of dancing, but it's still not a good way to treat people.

    There was one place however, where most of the guys had good manners and would dance with anyone. Zendah Grotto in Tampa. I used to love going there because it was all ages, no alcohol and no smoking. I was never enough of a regular to really be part of the in crowd, but I almost always had good experiences dancing there, and was only sitting down if I wanted to be.

    Good luck, I hope it gets better.

  12. Yup, swing dancing is like the real world out there, no matter what is been stated in the scene. They are people, and people are well... just people with all their shortcomings.
    Yes you noticed right, things like that happen, pretty gals get more dances when there's plenty of choice for the few leads available.

    Though there are many good and positive things to be found in the scene, I firmly believe that. Try to focus on that. If you really enjoy swing dancing, continue! Don't let this influence your dancing. Because it can.

    You could try and approach this differently. Like some of the commenters already suggested. And yes, do ask yourself and keep asking leads. If it's one way of getting dances, just go for it. Your dancing does get better when you are lots on the floor.
    And getting better also helps getting more dances, which helps your confidence. But it takes time and can be ever so frustrating, I know!

    Don't skip beginner leads. Lots of them lack confidence and are a bit scared to ask follows likewise. It's another way of getting to know more leads. If you have a good time, make them feel comfortable and just have fun, they will remember that. In time they will get better like yourself and since they know already how much fun it is to dance with you, they'll keep asking you to have another fun dance. Beginner leads feel just exactly feel as frustrated as you right now. "No follow wants to dance with a beginner." You don't want to dance all night with them, but don't skip them completely. You could have such a positive influence on them on how they start out in the scene.

    Another thing you could try is getting involved more in the scene other than dancing. If you can find the time that is. I don't know how things are in LA, but usually swing dance scenes can always use some extra volunteers. It helps to meet lots of people, know people in another way and like that you are to be known and judged in other ways than just face value. Expand the circle of dancers you know in the scene. Sometimes it is not about how you look, but sometimes people don't tend to ask strangers for a dance.
    You are such a creative and handy person, they could probably make good use of your skills. :-)

    I'm no lindy dolly either, like I am not one in the normal world. And I'm an average dancer, learning not too fast. And let me assure you, it doesn't help being in my mid 40s.
    But I have no big ambtions to become a magnificent dancer, I just want to have fun as long as it lasts. What does help, keep going. I finally feel I am getting a bit better and yes, I do get asked more.

    Besides that, I am in a group of people builing a brand new swing dance scene in my hometown. It is fun! We all want to make an effort of keeping up the good and welcoming vibes in our baby scene. At the moment it seems to work, new dancers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. It ain't all perfect, but we can try at least to have lots of fun.

    Don't stay frustrated, it shows in your dancing. I can laugh about it now, I had to learn that the hard way really, being a frustrated follow is no fun to dance with. All I want to say, maybe you can have some say in this situation. You won't change an entire culture. But you can change a small part of it, go on and try surround yourself with the nicer dancers, the friendly people. Like in the real world.

  13. This confirms some of my fears about heading into the swing dance world. It's long been something I want to do. But I'm not a gregarious person, and I don't know how to dance yet, and I'd like to learn, but I hate the idea that most of the guys there are really looking for more than dance. My mom experienced this and I felt so bad for her, years ago, when she went to a dance and at the age I am now (42) , all the men her age just looked right through her and only asked the younger gals... maybe it's only human, and maybe anything else is expecting too much... but I don't want to deal with a meat market in a place that shouldn't be about that. I always joke I need to find a nice gay guy to take to all the dances with me so I don't have to worry about any of the politics of it.

  14. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Heidi, I totally see what you mean, and perhaps I phrased it wrong.

    I do dance with anyone who asks, including beginners. And I smile and know they are just learning and I was once where they were. BUt leads in this scene tend to cleave, and one night I danced three times with one beginner. After a while you can only do a side step off beat for so long. I said, "Try keeping your arms still," and he looked at me like I insulted his mother!

    I'm pretty blunt, and I don't have a problem asking people to dance, I just wish it was not so one sided. I've even asked a couple of my 'friends' (leads in my classes) "You never ask me to dance, why?" I cant get a straight answer.

    *sigh* It's just a big emotional mess.

  15. When I lived in San Diego, I noticed that the attitude of the dance people who lived there were quite different than when I lived in Ohio or even Washington DC. A solution that I did in SD that might also work for you well in LA was to get a dance partner. My husband is fun to dance with, but not terribly skilled with little time to learn, and when we go out, it's usually us going over the few beginner patterns he knows (or should know, but he always needs a refresher - what a good sport).

    So I found a dance partner who was just looking for someone to go out dancing and take classes with. On Craigslist (Le Gasp!). Needless to say, I made sure to meet up in a very public place before attending a dance class with the guy (safety first). He knew in advance that I was married and only looking for a friend to go dancing with and nothing more. And while I was nervous about it at first - it turned out that we made a great dance pair and he became fast friends with both myself and my husband. I never needed to worry about not being able to dance, and having someone in the same class as myself meant that we could practice what we learned out on the dance floor - thereby increasing our skill levels. I asked him why (as an in demand male lead) he wanted a dance partner and his answer made sense - he told me that if he danced with someone who wasn't as skilled, it was more him helping them along. If he danced with someone vastly more skilled, then he only felt comfortable doing the dance moves he knew the best. There was never room for improvement for him. The times when he found someone who appeared around the same level, he enjoyed the dance more - but couldn't count on dancing with them regularly.

    Whatever you decide to do - I hope you continue dancing. We can never control the actions of others, or their bad attitudes. Though I wish that more people understood and followed social ballroom etiquette. It's social fun, not a meat market!

  16. Oh and here's a story that I thought I'd share too: in DC I once took my Dad and sisters to a swing dance event. My Dad had never ballroom danced in his life - and he picked up the very basic steps during the class. Unfortunately, he was too shy to ask anyone to dance. We tried to encourage him to, but he just wouldn't. A few women asked him to dance and he did turn them down. To which I kind of scolded him - as I said, "In ballroom, you never turn a lady down for a dance!"

  17. Thanks Rylie. I actually tried to find a dance partner, last night. If you read my first comment in the replies, you'll see how that turned out.

    Now Im back at square one.

  18. Sorry to hear about the poor ballroom etiquette. You might check out bellydancing sometime. Women of all sizes bellydance, and no male partners are required. Chicago does have a bellydance community to look into!!

  19. I don't dance, but my little sister does and she's experienced this in both swing and salsa.

  20. It's a shame that "adults" can't act like adults. I guess it's all about showing off instead of having fun. On another note, I did have to chuckle at the 3rd couple, the guy with the droopy drawers. rofl clothing so out of sync with the dance. Anyway, I hope things get better for you.

  21. Hi, Shelley,

    I just wanted to say that I'm sorry that this is happening to you. It sounds awful. You might want to try Rylie's suggestion, but instead of connecting with a current friend, connect with a potential new friend/dance partner.

    Maybe an anomymous note or a letter to the organizers of the dance to remind leads/dancers to be polite and dance with people wallflowers and those who ask you to dance (isn't this common courtesy)? I do like the idea of making a large sign and having some sort of visible protest (swing dancing is not my dance scene, so I don't know how this would go over). Or just vote with your feet/wallet and move onto another pastime.

  22. I think you've pretty much hit the nail on the head with this, unfortunately. It's always highly competitive to dance with the "good" people, and honestly that never changes, no matter what level you're at. But you're right that the follows who are either "good" or "cute" get the most attention. I see my male friends spend tons of time teaching cute beginner girls how to dance, and anyone who denies it is unobservant or lying. Because at its root, this really is just a singles scene.

    That said, what's cool about your post is that you aren't ranting at the world, but trying to figure out how to overcome a barrier in your path. Because you really want to be good, and you know that dancing with beginners won't get you there. Sure, there are many reasons for dancing with beginners, but improving your dancing isn't one. The best advice I can offer is just to keep at it - over time you will improve, people will begin to remember you and if they had fun dancing with you before they might ask again. Remember that a lot of the people in our scene have been dancing for 5+, 10+, 15+ years - I know that after a year of dancing regularly you feel like you should be starting to establish yourself, but to them you are still new, and you are still a beginner. You missed one chance to get a partner, but there are others (your friends' partnership might not even work out - a lot of partnerships come and go...) Just keep at it!

    The second best advice I've got, is to try taking some private lessons. Group lessons are good for getting started and meeting people, but for single follows there are diminishing returns as you get better. Group lessons teach you steps and moves, but privates are for refining your technique. And good technique is what makes a fat follow feel featherlight and fun to dance with.

    If you can, try going to different venues - it'll take a little while to become a familiar face, but I think some others are a little more welcoming. LG always has a competitive vibe (not the fault of the promoters who are super nice, I think it's just because so many people attend). PBDA and Rusty's are both nice places. You go to Joe's, right? I'm curious if you feel the same way there, or if LG is worse.

  23. BTW, I think this would make an excellent question for Bug's Question of the Day on FB - "How can I improve as a follow when leads don't ask me to dance?". Or something like that. You might get some good insight AND remind people of this issue.

  24. on a brighter note, you are staying active, eating healthy, following your passions. you are noticably slimming down, as well. keep up all the good stuff, keep on dancing and no doubt in my mind you will be in demand at those hops. probably the ones who don't want to dance with you now aren't worth dancing with anyway.

  25. Same problem in Milwaukee. I even had regular friends that had been going for a while and NO ONE asked me to dance. I am a fairly attractive girl, but I am bigger and I noticed that it was mostly the tiny gals getting asked. I think it has something to do with the overall bias that swing dancing means crazy maneuvers where the follow gets "swung" around.

    I do have to say that the bias goes both ways. My husband used to take dance lessons with his ex-wife and would go on a regular basis, until she felt he couldn't keep up with her and stopped dancing with him. Now he is super self-conscious when he dances and it takes a lot of effort to get him to do it.

  26. I feel your pain. It's the same thing where I am, as well. Occasionally one of the instructors or "good" leads will ask me to dance, then exclaim in serious surprise, "That was REALLY fun! Why haven't I danced with you before?"

    My response is always, "Because you've never asked! :) If you ask, I'll dance."

    I've volunteered for events and taken work shifts at dance nights. I've taken lessons, and had the instructor make size-ist comments about herself (Are you saying I'm too fat for you to do this move?) and choose to do dance moves that made me so uncomfortable (because I've been dropped before when leads haven't realized how heavy I truly am) I had to leave the class. I danced twice a week for about 4 years, and now I just don't anymore.

    It makes me really sad when the dance culture and the cliques found in dancing make people stop dancing. It's exacerbated here because our dance scene is SO follow-heavy. Sometimes there will be almost 2 follows per lead, which doesn't bode well for any follow. The nights where fewer follows come out are the best for me, because then I don't have to compete so much for dances. I've never had a lead say no when I ask, unless they were waiting for someone they had promised a dance to. Yes, there will be leads with 10 follows waiting for their turn here. It's ridiculous.

    I wish you the best! I'm going to try busting my way back into the "scene" once my condensed courses are over this summer, maybe exclusively as a lead... ;)

  27. Hi Shelley, I don't dance, outside of my home anyway, so I don't know the politics of the dance scene, nor do I have suggestions for you. The dance scene sounds a lot like the politics of dating and relationships. From my own world as a 'dateless' stout woman I feel your pain.

  28. Wow, thank you so much everyone for your comments. IT's been amazing reading them and hearing that it's sort of a chronic issue in the dance community in genera.

    Beth, thanks so much for your candid reply. It means a lot, especially coming from a Balboa champion (congratulations by the way :) ). You have been dancing a lot longer than me, so it's comforting to know that my observations are not off. I was beginning to think I was going crazy.

    And I'm not mad at the scene, as you commented on to the positive, I just want the chance to get better. I have been taking private classes, and they are helping tons. Right now with classes there is a disparity in skill set between follows and leads.

    I've kind of peaked out, so to speak of some of my lindy classes and I want to find an advanced class where I can hone my basics. Im not interested in learning too much more to my dance vocabulary at this time, I just want to tweak my foundation stuff.

    Oh, and Beth, what's 'Bug's Question'? That a swing dance group on FB? And as for the parterning thing, you are right. It was just a total shocker, and I just gotta keep looking :)

    You guys are awesome! I had another dance class last night and learned a lot. I love learning this stuff, and I just want to get better so I can do it justice :)

  29. Hi Shelley, I have been following your blog for about 9 months now, thru my Google reader, I found this last post sad, but so true. I was terrible at sports as a kid and was always picked last because of this! I guess maybe just know that all of your followers care, you are not going mad, and keep at it! Love C

  30. Must read!

  31. It is sad to see you say it is a big emotional mess. It does not have to be. You have to be clear on what you want. Do you want to dance, or do you want a date? If you want to date, maybe not the best venue for you. If you want to dance, dance. You are good , so have confidence. Never stand back and wait, always put yourself forward. Ask the best partners , ask the beginners, always be dancing,always be dancing with joy and enthusiasm. Just dance. Focus on that, and not on acceptance, or what the leads do or don't do, dance with anyone. You will shine, and eventually they will come round to realize it is fun to dance with you. It won't happen automatically, it won't happen overnight, and life is not fair.FWIW, I am a lot fatter than you, and go through life refusing to look at myself through the eyes of others, and since I have done that, am much happier for it.

  32. That video is fabulous :-)!! And your instructors are fabulous too, I understand your general enthusiasm for dancing.

    But the other stuff stinks. I guess it's the problem with confusing dancing with cruising - many guys think while they're at it they may as well kill 2 birds with one stone.

    I think on the whole Andrea's approach is what works best for me too. As a fat, middle-aged and taller-than-average woman, I don't get asked by men, whom I'm not much interested in anyway :-). But being a lead will get you to dance a lot, even if you're not very good as I am. Easy enough to check out the other girls who're good dancers but don't fit the looks stereotypes, and have a blast. And seeing you dancing well is much more likely to get you positive responses later from other people. I'd suggest working up a whole network of unsuitable girls, and trading off leading with them, so nobody falls by the wayside. Get a mailing list together, trade off tips on events and make sure all of you have someone to dance with at all times.

    Don't be put off by the beginning guys who can't take a suggestion either. Those you don't really want to dance with at all anyway. Keep asking beginners, and soon you'll find enthusiastic and committed partners who appreciate your guidance and work hard at improving. Trade those off with the other nonstandard girls, and all of you will be better off in time.

    That said, I'm sure you always have the most glamorous outfits :-).

  33. Honey, we went through that shit in the Orlando, FL scene about 10 years ago. The Orlando scene is pretty much dead except for a few places now. Come to Orlando. Our dancers aren't lame exuses for human beings.

  34. That's easier said than done, M. It's hard to focus on dancing if the lead you are with only does basic moves but then goes on and does the more complex stuff with someone else. Can't improve that way, I mean it IS partner dancing. And partner dancing is had to do (or practice) when one partner isn't into it.

  35. I just found your blog and can relate.
    When I started dancing, I consistently grew as a dancer, I was dating (later married) one of the top leads in our little scene and when we went to the larger scene two hours away, people wanted to dance with his girlfriend to see what she was about. Then the novelty wore off and I was just some shorter, stockier intermediate dancer who wasn't in the cool group. The only time I’ve had really good luck getting more than three dances a night was without DH, I wore a low scoop tank (no AC -ick), and I was one of four follows who knew how to lindy. Between that and taking a year off for recurring cases of patella tendonitis, I’m not all that anxious to try out the scene where I’ve moved to.

  36. Wow! I've had the same thing happen to me here in Houston over the years. I'm a great dancer (been doing the Lindy for more than 20yrs), I'm a size 6 and very athletic. Here it's more of a "race" thing. Now I don't go unless I have my own partner. Funny, I get more requests when I'm with someone than I do when I'm alone.....

  37. Ms. Shelly J:

    Truly empathy is what I am feeling regarding your post. I have been there except with Chicago Steppin' and Detroit Style Urban Ballroom Dance. At one point I wanted to compete, yet I digress.

    I experienced some of the same things you described though I was not overly large (weelll, size 14). As you stated class was not overly problematic because they do the switch-off. But, when I attended Ballroom and Steppin' sets, pulleaze, if you didn't have a man; i.e., partner or you were not "popular" forget it. Yes, you would get one dance. The Gentlemen of Ballroom try to advertise the membren as being attentive to the ladies. But, let's keep it real, 400 gals to 50 guys; do the math. My solution was to leave the scene and now that I am over 1,000 miles away from that big city it is a moot point.

    For you I would state to please, please hang in there if you love dance (as I am feeling you do). I know I do and miss it terribly.

    It looks as you are in the Seattle area and frankly, when I consider what my Seattle girlfriend tells me about the area and things I have heard . . . ummm, I have to wonder if in addition to what you have stated could your ethnicity be an issue for "some" there, 'nuff said?

    You know what, had I stayed in the area where I was AND continued to want to ballroom and step I was seriously considering advertising for a "dance" partner. It was that serious for me because I have a passion for dance that would not quit and like I said I wanted to compete back then.

    Your plan is a good one: stick, stay, continue to somehow practice and get better for as you stated good dancers win out ultimately. Not being funny but I wonder would you do better with something as smooth and cool as urban ballroom as the fellas do not have to throw you around as in the video you shared above.

    Your spirit if wonderful, pray, hold your head back and keep it up as dance makes you happy. ;-)

  38. Oh, and you know what, Ms. Shelley, another thing I love about Chicago Steppin' . . . .girlll, we dance three, four, five at a time it is the bomb dot com. If you have not seen it, Google it. Check out a You Tube of The Bomb Squad with Sarah Teagle. Girl was working it with three other dancers. More people get to participate when it comes to Steppin'. ;-)

  39. I've heard this mostly in the context of older dancers, but I guess it just boils down to this: if you are not a bright, young, small gal, you will be sidelined. As I've aged and gained weight in the swing dance community, I've seen fewer and fewer people ask me to dance. I'll second people's suggestions to lead, and add that if I'm feeling it, I'm just going to go solo dance, because I can't STAND to sit out a song that's moving me. What's great about solo dancing is that usually people join you and then you aren't dancing by yourself anymore. But I get that you want to improve your social dancing, too...I don't have any good answers for this. :( I was just talking with someone this past weekend at ABW how we don't have any larger follower role models in the Balboa community. Are even judges making choices based on weight? It certainly appears that way, after all these years of watching comps, both Lindy and Balboa.

  40. As someone who has danced always in a range of size 14 to 22, I can relate, but at the same time I still have a great dance night nearly every time I go out. I do a lot of the asking. I ask all night long. Sometimes I get turned down. I don't know if it's my size or completely unrelated. I don't find any point in dwelling on the reason, I just move onto the next person. Most leads will say yes, so I'm easily able to dance all night as long as I am willing to ask all night. I've been in the Chicago scene for about a year and over time I get to know people and figure out who I have good dance chemistry with, so the ratio of me asking vs being asked has shifted over time (at the same time, I'm so used to being the asker that I think I don't give people a chance to ask me as much). Dance is so amazing, and as a bigger dancer we have inherent differences in our movement that as we learn how to work our bodies make us really fun to dance with. But, you gotta be more willing to put yourself out there and deal with ambiguity as to whether the person you are dancing with has an issue with your size... they could also not like dancing with you for other reasons or even be enjoying themselves but not in a way that you interpret as such. I feel brave every time I ask someone to dance, and even braver when I feel rejected because it shows me that I am a strong and self-determining person.


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