Ballroom Dancing Basics: I Will Follow You

Ladies want to follow you, they really do. The only thing is, women have many responsibilities in today’s world. They run businesses and raise families. They’re used to taking the lead. However, when it comes to dancing, it’s a very different world. When she says, “Honey, let’s go dancing!”, she’s likely to get this reply, “Okay, but how about you let me lead for a change?” “You know I’m working on it. Do you have any idea how hard it is for a lady to learn how to follow?”

Ballroom dancing requires teamwork.

Many times a woman will say, “I can follow you as long as you have a strong lead.”  Wait a minute. You want the leader to pull you around.

She really wants to follow you.
That’s not gonna work for me.

That’s not gonna work. After all, this is a partnership with everyone doing their share. To learn more about the leader’s perspective, please read this Dance Safari post, “Ballroom Dancing Basics: 10 Characteristics of a Good Leader”.

So we have a leader and a follower. Who goes first? The leader. Who goes second? The follower. She will follow you, but she’ll be a split second behind. That’s why it’s called following.

What makes a good follower?  

A good follower doesn’t necessarily know tons of steps, but she pays attention to her partner’s directions and, as such, is a pleasure to dance with. Some invaluable techniques that she must use are good posture, a firm frame, strong core, and knowledge of the dance positions. A good follower will hold herself up and not hang on her partner. The best way to become a sought-after partner is to pay attention. Don’t anticipate. Rather, wait for the leader to indicate the direction and then respond accordingly. Waiting is the hardest part.

follow you
Good dance posture and a firm frame make partner dancing easier.

Here’s a cute blog post about one girl’s efforts to learn how to follow, “How I Learned to Swing Dance (Sort of) at Friday Flights”.

The best things about being a good follower are:

  • Good dancers will want to dance with you.
  • You can dance with bad dancers and still have fun.
  • You don’t have any decisions to make as far as which figures to dance and floorcraft.  Floorcraft is how you maneuver safely and efficiently around the dancefloor and is the responsibility of the leader.
  • You’ll never have to sit out a dance, unless you want to!

What about practicing?

First thing is, if you want to practice following, you’ll need a leader.

As you practice with your partner, close your eyes. Doing this really helps you to become more aware of where your partner is. Also, it prevents anticipation, which is a killer in partner dancing. If you think you’re gonna cheat, then get a bandanna and wrap it around your eyes.

Another way to practice would be to face your partner with your hands extended at your chest level, palms facing out. Your practice partner will meet your hands as you both exert pressure towards each other keeping a degree of tone in your arms, without letting your elbows go behind your sides. Next, move as a unit using directional movement forward, back, left, and right.

It’s really important to keep your steps a comfortable size. If you do, then even if you’re being led to do movements you’re unfamiliar with, you’ll be able to follow. To this end, just remember to follow the rhythm and keep your feet under your body.

If you’re not getting enough dances, it may be that you need to improve your ability to follow. As you can see, this is definitely one area where you don’t want to be the boss.

line dancing and ballroom dancing
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