The first time you drove a car, they were out there.
The others. The offensive drivers. Helpless new driver that you were, it felt like you accidentally drove into a scene from a Mad Max movie.
Making decisions, as a new decision maker, is what makes dancing in a crowd scary. The fact that you are also transporting precious cargo (i.e. Your Partner), can make it downright petrifying. So let's equip that late model minivan with some weaponry. An arsenal of floorcraft firepower can make any dance floor, or post Apocalyptic, trek as easy as driving in a parking lot.
Navigate The Dance Floor Like A Road Warrior: 10 Tips
You Need Traffic
FACT: Taking a dance lesson in an empty ballroom would be like practicing for your driver's test in an empty parking lot.
FACT: If it weren't for the obstacles (pictured above), Mad Max would have just been a regular driver in a hurry. Want to improve your floorcraft? Get some obstacles.
Inanimate Obstacle Challenge: Ask your dance teacher to arrange some chairs randomly around your dance studio. Your job is to skillfully navigate around them.
BONUS: Give each chair a particular order, or movement to execute
Human Obstacle Challenge: Schedule a lesson at the busiest time of the day to practice navigating around live obstacles.
FACT: Nothing will put a bullseye on your back quite like timid movement.
Take a Tango attack-like approach to your movement in the rest of your Ballroom Dances. You can't be a shy Road Warrior.
FACT: A confident dance frame is a yield sign to other drivers.
Sure, this is the armor plating for your dance vehicle, and, yes, your elbows are side impact airbags, but smashing into people is not the goal... so modify your dance frame to suit the available space.
FACT: You'll never get anywhere safely if you're not using your windshield.
The Windshield = Keeping your eyes up
Adjusting your mirrors = Using good posture
Checking your blindspots = Peripheral vision
FACT: Every time you leave the floor during a dance party puts you at risk of not returning.
Many dance students hit this reset button and lose precious momentum. Staying locked in means that you find another dance partner while you are on the floor, you skip the urge to hit the reset button, and log more minutes practicing your floorcraft.
Locked In Challenge 1: Change partners three times without leaving the floor.
Locked in Challenge 2: Change partners 8 times without leaving the floor.
Locked in Challenge 3: Never leave the dance floor for an entire practice party. [Road Warrior Status]
FACT: The clearer you can move on your dance compass, the better your navigation will become.
Newcomers: North. The only point on the compass you should care about is North.
Beginning Bronze: After a few lessons, you'll add in North, West, and then East.
Intermediate Dancers: South, on the dance compass, is about as useful as backing into a parking space (not very), and it is something you'll get a better appreciation for at this stage.
Going Further: Northeast, also known as Diagonal Wall, and Northwest, also known as Diagonal Center will become more important as your dance navigational skills develop.
Skill Training - Turns
Newcomers: Use turning patterns at the corners of the room (and continue North as much as possible).
Intermmediate Dancers: Pair up your turning patterns. Follow a left turning figure (Magic Left Turn) with another left turning pattern (Left Box Turn). This is especially effective with Left and Right rotating patterns like the Junior Walk or Change Turns.
Advanced Dancers: Should know this already, but keep patterns with large amounts of rotation ("Run around, standing spins") restricted to the center of the floor.
FACT: This puts both the leader (the Driver) and the follower (the passenger) at ease, whether we are talking ballroom dancing or fulfilling your Uber gig in a high octane post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Leader - By asking a few questions the leader can eliminate the awkward silence and focus on maneuvering (and, oh yeah, what their dance partner is saying).
Follower - Dancing, no matter how advanced, can feel a little weird if your partner is just breathing at you.
Conversation Challenge: Prepare 3 questions you will ask your dance partners at the next practice party.
FACT: You don't stop at traffic lights in a car chase, and you can follow that same rule on a crowded floor. Don't stop, or suffer the consequences.
It's important to have a pattern or two that can allow you to quickly save your dance partner from ballroom bumper car peril.
NOTE: To maintain Road Warrior cool points, do not describe the danger you narrowly avoided.
The Road Less Traveled
FACT: The best dance navigators utilize the unincorporated areas of the floor.
New drivers stick to the "inner-orbit" around the flow of traffic ("line of dance"). An advanced dancer uses the "outer-orbit", works into the barren regions of the corners, and can transport their precious cargo to the center of the room when necessary.
Off Road Challenge: Navigate successfully into, and out of, all four corners of the room during one ballroom dance.
Becoming a great navigator requires confidence. The only problem?
You can't acquire confidence unless you put yourself in situations that challenge your confidence. The greater the challenge, the bigger the rewards. The byproduct is the ability to look at any dance environment, no matter how crowded, and welcome the challenge.
Eventually, the crowds will make it fun. You'll be hooked on floorcraft. Empty dance floors will depress you.
Like Mad Max driving down a quiet highway.
Author's Note: To truly harness the mentality of a great leader, to tap into the sheer awesomeness of your capabilities, and give yourself a cinematic dance floor pep talk - I absolutely recommend Mad Max: Fury Road
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