Years ago, when I was living in Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to take a workshop with Frankie Manning. I don’t know that I learned any new moves that day, but I learned so much about dancing. During the workshop, Frankie taught the basic swing out. He told all of the guys as they rock stepped to “Bow to their queen,” and all of the guys obliged, imitating Frankie’s deep bend with the free arm swinging back. Those words have been stuck in my head ever since.
I always try to remember that every follow I dance with is royalty, worthy of adoration. For three minutes, it is my job to serve them and adore them. On the most basic level, that means not running them into other dancers, and protecting them on the dance floor. As I got better, I learned how to listen as a lead. Now I watch my follow to see how she’s styling and to keep track of her weight changes. If she missed something I tried to lead, I try to incorporate what she’s done into the dance so seamlessly that she never notices a missed lead. And lastly, I try to let her know that I think she’s wonderful, and that I appreciate those three minutes I get to dance with her.
In the etiquette of swing dancing, its usually considered rude to turn down a dance (there are exceptions). But those few fleeting minutes we get to share with someone are not an obligation. They are a gift. So to all of my dancing queens out there, I bow to you, and I thank you for the gift of your time that you share with me. J’adore.