Love Languages of Dancing

Most discussions about leader and follower roles are mostly views from these two camps:

Firstly, there are the traditionalists. There is a Finnish saying which can be roughly translated as “men lead and women whimper” which describes this mentality quite well. In this view, men should be active, the followers passive, and the best way to become passive is to “not think”.

Secondly, there are the progressives. They think the traditionalist view is outdated in the modern world, and that women should be equal participants in the co-creation of the dance. They are typically proponents of various forms of “active following”.

The reason why these discussions become so fierce is that both groups have the view that theirs is the only one true way to dance. But it appears that these two groups may actually have different love languages of dancing. And sometimes they might not even clearly understand what they are looking for, or if they do, how they could increase the probability of experiencing it.

The typical reaction from progressives is that they believe they are seeking all (or most) of those things. It is true that we all are seeking all of them to some degree, but in my experience it is difficult to honestly see what you are really looking for. So it is better not to jump to premature conclusions. Even if you are looking for the same thing, the means you are using may be complete opposites.

I usually try to accomodate the follower, so I will try to adjust to the love language of dancing I believe the follower is looking for. But when I invite dancers, I typically look for followers that have the same love language I feel I need at the moment. The love language I feel I need may actually even switch from day to day, but it is more apparent only in Finnish social dances where there is variety of swing and closed embrace dancing.

I typically seek what the linked article calls deep connection (I just call it emotional connection). Often, the best way for me to to seek deeper connection is to move more slowly. But, if the follower values movement over deeper connection for example, they will not move together with me (even if they are very advanced dancers), but instead will become increasing anxious if they feel we are moving too slowly.

I believe that the traditionalists are often seeking deeper emotional connection. However, they may use what Marshall Rosenberg calls “tragic expressions of unmet needs”. This means trying to fulfill needs using means that actually prevents them from getting what they need.

For example, the leader may try to control the follower to be closer to keep the emotional connection, even to the point of physically hurting the, (e.g. holding them too tightly to constrain their movement) (How do I know this? Because I had this tendency.) Or, the follower may “try to follow too hard”, moving prematurely out of anxiousness, starting to actually (unconsciously) back-lead, and thus killing the connection.

So what is to be done? The progressive view is understandable, both from social point of view, as well as from personal-physical point of view. But the starting point cannot be changing the preferred love language of dancing.  The starting point for the traditionalist should be to understand what they are looking for, and that they cannot force the emotional connection.

About Mikko

A man hopelessly bitten by the argentine tango bug.
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2 Responses to Love Languages of Dancing

  1. Pingback: Egoless Dancing | Cerebrar

  2. Pingback: On Roles | Cerebrar

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