Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dancing Penalty

My musings often take time to organize and form into coherent thoughts in my head before I can write about them but this one in particular has had a chance to sit and stir for a while AND given some recent stirrings in my dance community about injuries on the dance floor (see an older relevant post about Casualties of Salsa), I thought this should be amusing enough to share.

In social dancing, there are a few offenses that diminish the joy of dancing for people. Some are minor, some are most foul. I really don't think any should have to be "put up with" and wondered how this could be discouraged without coming across like a total bitch or ego maniac. Then it came in a burst of inspiration - what about a penalty box for dancing?!

Any sport that involves scoring (volleyball, soccer, basketball to name a few) have penalty systems. Yellow cards or Red cards are awarded to teams that commit minor or major offenses resulting in a penalty which provides the guilty team with a disadvantage. The system I'm suggesting draws from my knowledge of penalty systems but modified for dancing. There is no referee other than the your dance partner or neighbors and I'm assuming that everyone is out dancing for the fun of it.

The other part about penalties is that they are visible and there's a "ceremony" around it. With this system, the "card" is a metaphor for something more visible like a t-shirt or arm band that says something like "dance with me at your own risk".

I'm sure my lists are far from complete so please feel free to share and add as you see fit!

YELLOW CARD: Minor Infractions
The yellow card is awarded to dancers who commit minor infractions. 2 minor infractions are the equivalent of a red card (see the next section). A yellow card is essentially a warning message to dancers and allows them a 2nd chance to correct themselves

Minor infractions consist of:
1) Bad Body Odor
2) Stepping into someone else's line when they are clearly dancing in it.
3) Dancing and not paying attention to your partner (aka showboating)
4) Asking for a dance, listening to the music and then apologizing for not knowing how to dance to the song. By then whoever you've asked has likely lost the chance to dance with someone else.
5) [For Leads] Exaggerated shaking of the arms and lots of excess motion that confuses the heck out of a follow in terms of what's coming next.
6) Taking BIG steps: bigger then you are led into and bigger than what your partner can handle
7) Grabbing someone's hand and just walking out to the dance floor without a "Hi!" or "Can I dance with you?" when its someone you don't know.
8) Not saying thank you (in some form) after the dance
9) Not dancing with your partner: this one get a little complicated but its basically implying that not everyone dances at the same level and you should dance (leads especially) to your partner's level. Follows, if you're with a beginner lead, don't do too much fancy footwork and styling because it'll throw them off.
10) Dancing off beat
11) Dropping your partner but with grace AND helping them up right away to avoid further embarrassment.
12) Leading your partner into someone else's path or line
13) Following where you're not supposed to go

RED CARD: Major Infractions
The red card is awarded instantly for any major infraction OR after the 2nd yellow card is issued. This results in the dancer having to sit out of dancing for at least 10 songs or 30 minutes. Ideally he / she can sit in the penalty box: an extremely visible location off the dance floor that is closed off so that folks who are dancing can easily see who's in the penalty box. Once their time is up, they are free to come back on the floor but any subsequent infraction will result in a Technical Foul.

Major Infractions consist of:
1) Bad Body Odor to the point where the neighboring couples around you are also impacted by your smell.
2) Unconsented groping of any kind
3) Non-stop spinning in the first three 8 counts of  a song: exception to this is if you know you're partner can handle it already. Its a red card when you do it to someone you don't know and haven't given them time to warm up to.
4) Self-Dipping to the point of not supporting your own weight (if you get dropped that's your fault) If your partner doesn't assist you, they get a red card too.
5) Injury to your dance partner or neighboring dancer resulting in a that dancer having to stop dancing for a few seconds. If they can't dance at all - that's a Technical!
6) The "grip of death" which can result in injury to your partner.
7) Unsolicited teaching on the social dance floor
8) Not apologizing for major collisions on the dance floor: a major collision is one that results in the dancer stopping altogether because they've been knocked off balance or are in pain or in shock/disoriented.
9) Complex tricks on a follow who is clearly a beginner.
10) Stepping onto a crowded dance floor drink in hand and expecting the dancers to get out of your way.
11) Dropping your partner causing a serious bump or bruise or stop in their dancing. If you don't apologize or try to help, that's a Technical.
12) Taking up too much space on a crowded social dance floor.
13) Hogging your dance partner for multiple dances and not even giving them the opportunity to say yes to dancing again by just dancing with them and not letting them go.
14) Using too much force in the lead (likely resulting in injury to your dance partner)
15) Stopping to talk in the middle of a crowded social dance floor: if you want to talk, step off to the side, don't stop in the middle of a space occupied by so many people in motion!
16) Asking someone to teach you how to dance on the social dance floor, especially if you don't know them.

This is an offense that is basically not tolerated in social dance circles and results in the offender being kicked out of the dance hall/location. If one has already received a 2nd red card, then that is also grounds for a Technical.
1) Telling someone that they suck at dancing in a social dancing situation.
2) Executing a complex dip with a partner that is clearly NOT ready for it
3) Aerials on a crowded dance floor (really?): BOTH partners are out in this case, one of you should know better.
4) When you can't even stand up straight because you're too drunk
5) Dropping your partner causing major injury
6) Telling someone that they shouldn't be dancing
7) Playing bump-em cars with everyone around you multiple times in the same song.
8) Crossing over your partner's personal space after they've indicated where that boundary is
9) Making someone cry on the dance floor
10) Rude, raucous and disruptive behavior