Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Quest for Dance

I had a difficult time coming up with a title for this article.  Before I settled on "quest" I had cycled through: "object," "purpose," "reason," "motivation," "point," "endeavor," "plan," and so on.  I was trying to convey that dance can be more than just a fun social activity.  I wanted to share an idea of how to enhance the experience for new follows and to inspire a vision for doing so. 

Now, as leads, we dance for a number of reasons: it's exhilarating, athletic, artistic, and in a word, its just plain cool.  It's also a great way to meet people and socialize, at least once you advance to the point where you can dance, think, smile, and even talk all at the same time.  Which, if you are a type A personality with a concrete sequential learning style, is no small achievement!

So, dance is fun for everybody!  Enough said, right?  Well, not so fast, I think there's more - much more!

Let's expand our horizons a little, open our eyes wider and think more deeply about this.  I believe we will notice that there is a lot more potential here than what we see on the surface.

What am I getting at?  Well, think of it this way.  Remember the last time you opened a door for a lady?  Remember how she smiled and thanked you?  Remember how positive that whole experience was?  You endeavored to show someone a kindness, to honor them and to bless them in some small way, and they responded in kind.  Plain, simple, beautiful.  Now, take that little experience and multiply it a thousand times over.  That, my friend, is a potential of dance.

Think about it for a moment.  You really like dancing with intermediate and advanced follows - yes, you know you do - especially if they already know you well and are your dance friends.  The dancing is great, they can follow almost any move you offer them with aplomb, and there is essentially zero social risk of being turned down for a dance. Dance heaven, right?  Yes!  And that is why we tend to dance mainly, or perhaps even only, with our more fantastic follow friends.

Yes, you're smart, you've already figured out where I'm going with this.

Just a quick scan of the entrance area of the dance hall, or off to the sidelines, and you will see them: the new follows.  Some of them are are not so new but are actually intermediates, who, for whatever reason, are just not asked to dance very often.  While most of them tend to hang back and pretend to be intensely interested in their cell phones, or in talking with their friends, some of them will stand right at the edge of the dance floor, smiling bravely, as dance number after dance number is played and no one offers to dance with them.

Now, you are a man.  You are hard wired to admire courage wherever you see it.  You recognize it in your friends.  You respect it in your enemies.  You even find yourself strangely drawn to it in the world of nature: in animals, trees and mountains.  Open your eyes.  Think about the courage displayed by these follows.  They put a lot of effort into looking nice for this dance, they did their best to learn during the pre-dance class, and now they stand there, dance number after dance number, waiting for an offer to dance that rarely ever comes.

It's not hard to realize what they must feel like.  You know what it's like to be rejected for a dance.  If you have had the rare and invigorating experience of being turned down by multiple follows in a row because the first one you asked just happened to be the leader of a clique, then you begin to understand a bit of how these follows feel.

Remember, you can usually just go and ask another follow, if one is available, but these follows don't really have that option.  They know what this looks like to other people, and to their friends.  But worst of all, they suffer the merciless abuse of that mean little monkey voice within themselves that is always berating them about how they are too tall, or too this, or too that, and how they are just not pretty enough, or smart enough, or something enough.  You know, kind of like your own mean little monkey voice that tells you that you're never going to be a success, and are never going to make a significant or valuable contribution to anything, and that everyone is going to think you're useless.  Yes, that voice! - only theirs is a lot meaner and even more vocal than yours!

Like brave little soldiers they just keep weathering the rejection dance after dance.  Many of them can only be worn down like this for so long before they finally give up and try to slip out of the dance hall unnoticed.  Should we actually be surprised if they never want to try social dancing again?  That is a real tragedy, because many of them could have become fantastic dancers if they had only been given the chance.  Remember, every excellent follow you have ever danced with was once a new follow.

Men, their courage deserves to be recognized, and even more importantly, it deserves to be rewarded.

So here is our challenge, our "quest" if you will, our mission, if you are willing to accept it: let's open the door for these ladies - the door into the fantastic world of dance.  Let's be like gentlemen used to be.  You know, like they were before the whole world devolved into a bunch of self centered, narcissistic children.  Instead of just dancing with our fantastic follow friends, let's offer to dance at least once with each new follow, and let's do this first, at the beginning of the dance evening.  When we have done this then we can dance with our fantastic follow friends.  It will be the best of both worlds.

Let me explain some ideas of how and why to do this.  You can come up with even better stuff than this on your own, but still, you may find the following suggestions amusing, and, if you are a new lead you might even find them helpful:

You already know about the importance of mouthwash and deodorant, so I won't mention that, but dressing sharp is far more important than most us rough and ready guys are aware of.  Trust me, a guy dressing a bit more formally for a dance means way more to follows than you realize.  Just a simple tie makes a big impact.  Anything more, and the power of it just multiplies exponentially.  The simple fact is that follows feel honored and respected when you make some effort to look the part - or, as ZZ Top sings: "Every lady's crazy bout a sharp dressed man."  Of course, you could try an interesting sociological experiment and show up in your pajamas,  your barn clothes, your sweats or maybe your cutoffs and filp-flops.  You could then observe the "are you kidding me?" type facial expressions of the follows, but honestly, that seems kind of cruel.  Just trust me on this, the average follow cares way more about how you look than you do. 

Don't expect new follows to attempt to make eye contact with you.  The best you can expect is for them to look in the general direction of the dance floor and smile, as either no one has informed them about the advantage of making eye contact, or they feel it is too forward, or they feel that if they make eye contact with you, and you don't approach them, they will then feel even more rejected.

So, to begin, pick out the shyest follow available, approach her directly, smile enthusiastically, and say something like: "Hello, would you like to dance?".  If you are feeling especially refined, then bow at the waist slightly and offer her your right hand with as much flourish as you can manage.  Your goal in asking her in this way is to honor her and to communicate to her that you recognize her as a person of value.  You also do this to make her look good in front of others, especially her friends.

If you had the foresight to learn her name and commit it to memory during the regular rotation of the preceding dance class, then replace your initial "Hello" with her name.  If you do not yet know her name then introduce yourself as you accompany her to the dance floor, ask her name, and make every effort to memorize it during the dance even if you have to ask her name again before the dance is over.  After the dance, unless you are sure you can remember her name from now on, write it down in a small notebook (the one you use to write down new dance moves will suffice) with a short description.  To address her by name at the dance next week is to especially honor her.  To fail to do so is a sadly missed opportunity to show her respect.  No matter to what depths our society continues to fall, a person's name will still be important to them.  Because of this, you can really bless people, just by remembering their name. 

Back to the dance.  Smile.  As you begin to dance with her, you will quickly become aware of her present level of dance ability.  Adjust your dancing accordingly.  Use moves that are challenging for her but still attainable.  When she does a move particularly well and you are genuinely impressed, compliment her spontaneously, enthusiastically and immediately.  When complimenting, always say what you really think (within the bounds of discretion of course).  Never compliment her if you don't really mean it.  If it's not genuine, then as a gentleman, you should never say it.  And remember, she's got her intuition thing running full blast all the time.  If you think you're going to slide past that, you're dreaming!  This also goes for complimenting her attire (including shoes).  Yes, I have it on the best of authority that such compliments are indeed appropriate and appreciated, as long as you don't belabor the issue excessively, and as long as you present them in a pure, cheerful and matter of fact manner.

Smile.  If she is very new to dance, and she asks you to show her how to accomplish a particular move, do so with kindness, grace and good cheer, and be sure to praise her with genuine enthusiasm when she does it well.  There is nothing that will encourage her, and fill her with new-found confidence, more than well earned praise!  This author has had the fulfilling experience of new follows calling to their friends on the side lines during the dance to watch them as they accomplish complex and artistic new moves: "hey Mary! Jenny!  Look at this!!"  It's something that our fantastic follow friends don't normally say.  See what you're missing?

Just as a side note:  Make every effort to protect your follow from injury on the dance floor.  This crucially important imperative will be explored more thoroughly in a future article entitled: "Protect Follows."

Smile.  I know it is really hard to smile while trying to dance at the same time, but do it anyway even if it means stumbling over your own feet and looking foolish.  Hey, it will give you both something to laugh about, and you will both feel more at ease.  Your smile means a lot to her and it raises her esteem in the eyes of others (especially her friends) at the same time.  Laughing while dancing is a very good thing!  The more she is laughing, the more she is enjoying the dance, and the more fun it is to dance with her.

Now, I know I'm going out on a limb here, but try to talk.  If the dance music is particularly good say something about that, or say something positive about the quality of the other dancers or the dance club in general.  It will help your follow to feel relaxed and at ease, and will deliver her from feeling self-conscious.

Smile.  Near the end of the dance determine whether this follow would like you to end the dance with a dip or not, and whether to deploy a slight dip or a full dip.  Believe it or not, most follows expect to be dipped and will feel let down if they are not.  It appears important to them also, that their friends see this.  If in doubt, ask your follow first.  Remember, they are all individuals and they are very different than we are.  Their concept of what personal space to maintain, in different situations, is different than ours.  Remember, these are beings who carry on conversations in the restroom!  Yes! It's true! They really do that!  So don't assume that they are like you - they are not.

Smile.  At the end of the dance, as you thank her for the dance, offer her your right arm with forearm held horizontal. Do this with a slight bow.  Be forewarned however, a considerable percentage of follows (about 30% of them) will have no idea what you are doing!  Some will refuse your arm entirely.  Many will giggle awkwardly and attempt to reciprocate with some strange elbow bumping ritual (is it some kind of gang sign or something?)  Others will understand (kind of) but will take your arm with their right hand, leaving you in the very awkward position of having to escort them off the dance floor, toward their awestruck friends, while walking backwards!  In this, our modern and enlightened age, it seems that only those follows with some knowledge of history will immediately understand that this small gesture is meant to honor them, compliment them and show them your highest level of respect.  This is where those Jane Austin movies will save you.  You can think I'm strange if you want to, but I positively LOVE Jane Austin!!!

One effective way to avoid this awkwardness, and still manage to escort your follow off the dance floor and back to her friends properly, is to end the dance by taking the follow's left hand in your left hand and turning yourself slightly about one quarter of an inside turn to arrive along your follow's left side.  As you execute this fluid motion, deftly place the follow's left hand over your presented right forearm.  Your follow will then almost invariably understand what you are doing and will feel both flattered and appropriately honored.

As you arrive with her back at the sideline, be sure to thank her for the dance again, in front of her friends, and be both sincere, enthusiastic and expressive.  If it was a great pleasure dancing with her, then by all means say so!  Never fail to give an appropriate and deserved compliment.

For the next dance, with another new follow, be sure to adjust what you do to that individual follow, but always be the same degree of a gentleman with all of them.  This way they will know you are not playing favorites, and thus they will not fall prey to any dreamy visions of rainbows and unicorns.  This way you will protect their feelings from being hurt.

Make it your goal to dance with every new follow available.  Hopefully other leads will join you in this quest and together you will be able to dance with those follows who might otherwise have lost heart and left the dance hall.  They are maidens in distress.  If you can manage to not trip over your own armor in your attempt to rescue them from the dragon of neglect, then you, my friend, have arrived!

Your object in all of this is simple.  Provide dance opportunities for follows, and make those opportunities the most positive experiences possible.  Where they would otherwise feel rejected, you can make them feel welcome and accepted.  Where they would otherwise feel inferior, you can help them to recognize their real, special, precious value.  Where they would otherwise struggle at learning to dance, and might even give up on it, you can inspire them, give them confidence and launch them into a bright, beautiful future in dance.  Where they would otherwise feel lonely and down, you can be a friend to them.  A dance friend - nothing more, but nothing less either.  And that is enough.  It is all they really need.

Now, in truth, I must tell you one additional thing from my personal experience.  There is something really fantastic-special that happens when a new follow learns to perform a dance move really well and she is complimented and praised for it genuinely and enthusiastically.  Her face just lights up, with real genuine joy, and her smile at that time is simply beyond price!  Even the best dancing I can do, with even the best of follows, cannot hold a candle to that experience.  There is nothing in dance (and trust me, I love to dance!) that will ever compare with seeing someone so very, very, really, really happy!  I dance for this.  Life is fantastic!

Another very surprising thing I have discovered is that this does not just happen with new follows.  I have found, much to my pleasant amazement, that some very advanced follows will brighten up the same way and even more powerfully when they receive a genuine, spontaneous, enthusiastic and well deserved compliment.  One would think that such accomplished follows would not need any compliments at all, but in reality, they are the ones who appreciate them the most!  Life is amazing!

Advanced follows can also be made happy by dancing really well with them.  Seeing them really brighten up and genuinely enjoy the dancing makes all the time struggling through the dance classes and all the time practicing so extremely worth while!  You know you have arrived when a great follow excitedly thanks you for the dance, and expresses that she looks forward to dancing with you again in the future.  Life is beautiful!

So, as you see, dance can be much more than just a fun social activity.  Dance provides you with a beautiful opportunity that you rarely ever encounter in other areas of life - the opportunity to really bless people, to really lift them up and make them feel like a million bucks!  In so doing, you will also be inspiring other leads to do the same thing with resulting powerful, positive results that will multiply throughout your dance club, and in the wider dance community as well.  Dance is a gift that you can give.  Give it with enthusiasm!

There are risks of course, but they are relatively small.  Some may misunderstand your intentions, and others may think you a bit odd, but remember, when your motivation is right, it no longer matters what people think about you, and when you reach that point, then you are truly free.

I will end with a few random thoughts, quotations, and a link to a video:

Several times a day we find ourselves making a choice between protecting ourselves, or, in compassion, extending an act of kindness to others.

Here is a link to a video that that inspires thought:

"Have a green tree in your heart, and perhaps, a singing bird will come." -- ancient Chinese proverb

What is in your heart, is who you are.  Who you are, determines what you do.  What you do, can really help people.

Never make the mistake of seeking happiness as an end in itself.  In fact, renounce your search for personal happiness, and cast it behind you.  Seek instead only to do that which is right, and to be a real blessing to others, and you may inadvertently discover real happiness that you did not expect.

You can do real, substantial good in the lives of other people who will truly benefit from your kindness.  Dance provides you with the chance to do that.  You will not regret it.  Don't miss it!

All the best to you, fellow dance enthusiasts,

Wylin Tjoelker    Dance Club Review

P.S.  Your thoughts will make more sense to many people than mine have.  Please share them by clicking on the "no comments" link directly below.  We all value your insight.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Friendliest Dance Club - Suburban Swing

The Friendliest Dance Club -- Suburban Swing

Hello, I'm Wylin Tjoelker and this is my first review of a dance club for this, my new lead oriented blog -- Dance Club Review.  In the coming days I will be writing more on the subject of ballroom social dance, so please check back again to see what's new.

After much procrastination, I finally decided to start this blog and share this review because, when something really impresses me, I just can't keep quiet about it and eventually I have to say something.  My experience at Suburban Swing has provided sufficient inspiration to overcome my reticence and finally start publishing.

Before I continue, let me tell you a bit about myself so you will understand where I am coming from.  I am a married, middle aged father of two sons and two daughters who range in age from 10 to 25 years old.  I am fairly new to social dance having started only a year and a half ago.  I have visited many local dance clubs and I regularly attend up to five different dance clubs a week in Whatcom and Skagit counties as well as in the city of Bellingham and here at Suburban Swing in Abbotsford Canada.  Yes, my Canadian friends, I’m a Yank.  I live near the border town of  Sumas, Washington.  I am actively learning several types of dance with West Cost Swing being my favorite, East Coast/Lindy Hop being my intensive focus for the last four months and Blues being my most recent discovery.  

In my journey so far, I have encountered a fair bit of variation in the quality of the various dance clubs.  Each has its own unique character, its own strengths and weaknesses, that are determined primarily by the people involved.  Together they make up the atmosphere or the “spirit”, if you will, of each particular dance club.

As you may have guessed, I am enthusiastic to write this review, because my experience at Suburban Swing has been positive - exceptionally positive in fact.  What has impressed me the most is the genuine warmth, kindness and welcoming atmosphere that has consistently been extended to me at this club.

When someone decides to try social dancing for the first time, or, if they already dance and they decide to try out a new dance club, they often wonder how they are going to be received.  Are they going to feel like they belong, or are they going to feel like an outsider?  What is the larger social dance experience at this place going to be like?

To answer those questions, I will describe Suburban Swing as a new lead might experience it.  

The first thing he would notice is that the facilities themselves are quite good.  A large amount of free parking is conveniently located around the dance hall.  They even have a spacious, paved, fenced and well lit parking lot along the side of the building.  The dance floor is large and its surface is particularly good for sliding, turning and pivoting.  Comfortable upholstered benches surround most of the dance floor.  There is a sizable stage for live bands and DJs.  The bathrooms are clean, well lit and fairly spacious. Adjacent to the dance floor there is a large adjoining room with good tables and chairs, and a kitchen from which birthday cakes are often served in honor of members of this dance community.  The doors are often left open and large fans are deployed to effectively cool the dance floor and provide plenty of oxygen.

The first people one meets are the front desk team, who are found to possess that rare and valuable combination of warmth, friendliness and efficiency.  I have also found the price of admission to the classes and the social dance to be a good value considering the overall quality of the experience here.  They even provide you with a punch card that grants you every 6th DJ dance night for free. They also have this really neat birthday promo thing where they invite you and ten of your friends, (ten first time dancers, or five regular dancers and 5 matching first time dancers), to come and dance for free!

Before the general class and social dance, waiting guests, sitting on the comfortable benches, are entertained as they watch students from the advanced classes practice what they just learned.

Now I get to write about what really stands out at Suburban Swing and what motivated me to finally write this review:  the people.  Being a lead, I will start with the follows.  Though there is a wide range of ages, most of them seem to be in their late teens through mid twenties.  They generally dress more formally than at other dance clubs, thus brightening the dance experience for everyone in the room.  What really impressed me was how naturally open and friendly they are.  During the class, as they rotate along the circle to each new lead, they shake your hand like they mean it, smile genuinely and introduce themselves gracefully.  They are universally the most welcoming follows I have met at any dance club and they exhibit a degree of maturity and confidence normally found only in experienced adult follows.  One wonders where Suburban Swing finds these kids.  Perhaps many of them were homeschooled or something.  It may be a result of religious faith, as so many dancers here wear jewelry with crosses.  At any rate, they were obviously very well raised and are a great credit to their parents. 

And that’s just the new follows.  The more advanced and accomplished follows are also noteworthy, especially because of their approachability, their cheerfulness, and their willingness to dance with even brand new leads - this author has yet to be turned down for a dance by any one of them.  Their dancing is first rate, with styling to match.  They are invariably well dressed and some of them do a great job of recapturing the 1940s Swing Dance look.  Dancing with them is like stepping out of a time machine into a more beautiful and brighter era.  It always feels like a real privilege to dance with such classy, talented and friendly advanced follows.

Another very pleasant surprise for leads at Suburban Swing is to be asked for a dance by follows.  Yes, that actually happens here.  Many of the follows here are really nice.  They possess those rare and beautiful qualities of kindness, courage and confidence that are such powerful indicators of exemplary character.  They really help to boost the confidence of and the sense of acceptance of the new leads.

The welcoming atmosphere here doesn’t just stop with the follows.  Normally, at dance clubs, leads largely ignore each other.  But not at Suburban Swing.  One of my best experiences here is meeting new leads who go out of their way to introduce themselves, shake hands and strike up a friendly conversation.  They willingly and cheerfully share valuable dance tips and advice.  This greatly enhances the general camaraderie here and helps new leads to feel at home.

The Sunday night basic class, just before the social dance, does a good job of introducing new dancers to East Coast Swing and invariably also provides a few cool new moves for the intermediates.  This basic class is heavily attended as there are always a lot of new dancers and the more experienced dancers join the circle to help teach them.  These classes are sometimes taught by guest instructors from other dance clubs or by some of Suburban Swing’s advanced dancers.  They all do a really good job, and dancers always learn something new.

The advanced classes occur earlier in the evening at 5 or 6 o’clock and are taught by Suburban Swing organizer and manager team Jason & Crystal Warner.  They do a great job of breaking down complex moves into learnable segments.  However, what really sets them apart as instructors is that they don’t just go through the motions.  They genuinely want you to learn the moves well, and it shows through in how attentive, patient and kind they are, and in the way that they will find additional time to help a student to really grasp a complex move.  The other students join in that same spirit and are friendly and helpful.  It is common for very advanced dancers to retake the classes just to help out with the new students.  Very cool!

The music at Suburban Swing is another of their strong points.  Their DJs, especially Jose Manzano, are first rate, and their music selections are a really good mix of old and new numbers that are very danceable.  I first met Jose at another dance club where he was serving as DJ.  He invited me to Suburban Swing, which is how I discovered this dance club.  Jose is a righteous dude!

One of the most amazing additional benefits of Suburban Swing is provided by a couple of the advanced follows who often come dressed 1940s style.  They join in on the microphone and sing the vocal parts of some of the 1940s dance numbers.  They sound like the Andrews Sisters, and the quality of their singing is nothing short of astounding.  Listening to them is a real treat and is alone worth the price of admission to the dance.

Suburban Swing also attracts some really high quality live bands.  They seem to have live band nights about once a month, and the additional cost for these nights is only $6.  It is obvious that the band members consider it a privilege to perform here, and, judging by how well they are received and appreciated by the dancers, it is not hard to see why.

There are many very, very talented advanced dancers who regularly attend here, and watching their fantastic performances is an amazing experience in and of itself.

Formal and themed event nights at Suburban Swing are very well attended, and dancers make a real effort to dress the part.  These events always prove to be a fun, bright and shiny experience for everyone and are not to be missed.

The social dance itself receives large participation.  The only leads not dancing seem to be the ones who choose not to dance a particular number, because it is extremely rare here for a follow to turn down a lead for a dance.  There appear to be two reasons for this.  Firstly, the follows here apparently possess great quality of character.  They are above all genuinely kind, welcoming and gracious.  Secondly, they appear to be inspired by the example set by the more advanced follows who especially exemplify those same qualities.

What I am about to say now may sound a bit odd, but I am going to share it with you anyway.  I have found that the friendly and welcoming spirit so consistently communicated at this dance club is similar to that which is found in the very best of our area's churches.  By our best churches I am referring to those that actually and naturally practice the kind of genuine care, concern and friendliness toward others that Jesus taught would be the singular defining characteristic of His followers:  "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." - John 13:35

So, in summary, it is my pleasure to say that, after having attended Suburban Swing weekly for three and a half months, I have experienced them to be the friendliest dance club that I have yet encountered.  The people here honestly care about each other and about new dancers.  Perhaps that is why they are the longest continuously running dance club in all of Canada.  They do good in the lives of both new and advanced dancers and are a real blessing to them.  They are a great example of how a dance club should be run, and are a real credit to our larger dance community.
May they be blessed in return.

Wylin Tjoelker    Dance Club Review

For more details about Suburban Swing check out their website:

P.S.  Perhaps you also have had a really positive experience at Suburban Swing, or at another dance club, and you would like to share that with others.  No better time than the present!  Strike while the metal is hot! Say hello and write a few words by clicking on the "no comments" link directly below.

All the best to you, fellow dance enthusiasts.

Introducing: A Ballroom Dance Blog for Leads

Hello, I'm Wylin Tjoelker, and I would like to welcome you to my new blog:  Dance Club Review.

I begin this blog with the object of sharing my thoughts about social dance with fellow leads.  I also hope to elicit enlightening comments from other leads, as well as from follows.  I look forward to the valuable knowledge that we will all gain from the comments left by fellow dancers.

I can't help but recognize that dance can be much more than just a fun social activity; in fact, I believe it has real potential for doing many other forms of good in people's lives.  Through this blog I hope to progressively explore that vision.

I greatly enjoy many types of social dance from Scottish Country dancing (18th century contra dancing) all the way to Blues dancing.  The dances that I pursue most at present are West Coast Swing, Night Club Two Step, East Coast Swing/Lindy Hop and Blues.  I also basically dance Tango, Cha Cha, Waltz, Foxtrot and Country Two Step.  My next pursuits will be Salsa, Rumba and Argentine Tango.  I also want to learn Polka and I have an intense desire to become more proficient in Waltz.

I do not write this blog as any type of expert, but rather as a merely a dance enthusiast.  The fact is, I have only been dancing intensively for about a year and half.  I actually find this to be a help in writing about dance because I still think very much like a new lead and am thus personally aware of the kinds of questions new leads have, and the challenges they face.

I approach dance from the perspective of a middle aged married man and father of two sons and two daughters.  We have a daughter age 10, a son age 16, another son age 24 and a daughter age 25.  We homeschool these kids.  I find that when you have a wife and kids, (especially daughters), and you spend a lot of time with them, you come to care about other people more, and you learn to understand the different perspectives from which they come, and the different needs that they have.  This has has also helped me recognize the value and potential of social dance and of the ways in which it most needs effective support.

Of the many reasons I am writing this blog, one of the foremost is that I feel there is a serious lack of information available on the subject normally referred to as "Dance Etiquette"  At best, one is provided with a few helpful rules but the deeper spirit behind the rules is not really explained.  That vision is not effectively cast.  New leads are thus largely left in a fog of mystery about how to interact with follows, with the result being that they fail to reach the great potential as dancers that would be theirs, if only they knew the deeper realities of what follows actually need from them.

The most effective way to promote greatness in an individual dancer, or in a dance establishment, is to genuinely and enthusiastically celebrate what is already being done right.  So, another purpose of this blog will be to provide reviews of local dance clubs - hence the title: "Dance Club Review."  My first such review is now posted above, and, to be honest, my positive experience at that particular dance club: (Suburban Swing), is largely responsible for finally inspiring me to start sharing my thoughts about dance.

Other persons have also provided inspiration and have helped to shape the vision.  I have learned a great deal from every dance teacher whom it has been my privilege to be instructed by.  I have also learned some valuable insights from fellow leads.  Most of what I have learned, however, has been gained by dancing and talking with follows, hundreds of them, from brand new follows to very advanced and talented ones.  I can honestly say that I have learned something valuable from every one of them, and I still do, almost every day.  They have helped me more than they will ever know and I want to pass on their insights to my fellow leads.

So, to accomplish that, I endeavor to observe intently, research thoroughly, practice intensively, network extensively, listen attentively, think deeply, envision expansively, celebrate enthusiastically, and write sincerely, - to the heart.

Wylin Tjoelker      Dance Club Review

P.S.  If you have some helpful advice that you would really like to give to leads, now is a great opportunity to share that.  Just say hello by clicking on the "no comments" link directly below and bless us with your wisdom.

All the best to you, fellow dance enthusiasts.