Ballroom Dancers Beware of These Follower’s Faux Pas

It’s easy for followers to develop bad habits when it comes to partner dancing. Whether you’re a seasoned ballroom dancer or a newbie, here are a few things that followers need to avoid.

This is a short list of things that followers should not do:

No “jelly arms”.

In order to do the steps the leader is executing, a follower must have toned arms. As a result, the arms create a frame that will be slightly resistant to the leader’s touch. This allows him to easily direct the follower’s body into the positions the steps call for.

This video cleverly illustrates “jelly arms“. Enjoy!

Don’t Lean On Me

Hold yourself up and by all means, never expect the leader to drag you around. Because it’s important for all ballroom dancers to have good posture and a strong back, practice holding your dance poise even when you’re not on the dance floor.

Back-leading is a big no-no.

Partner dancing requires one leader and one follower. If, in fact, the follower decides to take over the leading duties, mayhem will definitely spoil the dance. It would be like driving a car with two steering wheels – not very safe! Therefore, be respectful of your partner and commit to allowing him to be the only driver.

Attention ballroom dancers!  Followers must not back-lead.

Followers, no leader wants you to teach them on the dance floor.

All new ballroom dancers, and even experienced ones, sometimes struggle as they try to remember steps and proper timing. Believe me, it’s natural. As a follower, you have only one thing to do, and that’s follow your partner – right or wrong. Tune in to him and his movement and don’t worry about the music. Try using the Golden Rule and treat him the way you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed.

Lastly, here’s something that followers should do:

Be patient.

To be sure, it’s important that you know that leaders have much more to master than followers do.

  • He needs to know a good variety of dances and steps.
  • It’s important that he has the ability to lead good dancers and the not-so-good, as well.
  • Having good floorcraft means that he is able to manage the traffic on the dance floor and keep his partner and other ballroom dancers safe.
  • A guy’s gotta get comfortable with his Slows and Quicks. That means, in addition to everything else he’s responsible for, he’s got to be able to interpret the music correctly. No matter how many steps he knows, it’ll never feel right if he’s off-time.

Yes, I know you wish your partner had more steps, style, and sensitivity, but you must have patience and let him develop in peace at his own pace. Remember, good things take time.

On the whole, being a great follower is easy if you use good manners and common sense. Simply hold your body in one piece and let your partner direct your movements. With this in mind, if you would like more detail about the above suggestions, check out this Dance Safari post, “Ballroom Dancing Basics – Are You a Bad Follower?”.

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  1. Barbara, it took ages before K would let me lead doing the reverse wave in slowfox. But, it did happen!!!
    So, after a year of ‘not dancing’ and, last weekend, doing a reverse wave we are back to K wanting to lead as he goes backward. Arrrrrrrrr….
    Hahah…. Guess it will take a bit more work… once again! But when? Hopefully, next year we may be able to get back to a weekly social. A girl can dream!!! 🙂

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