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How to Help Your Local Dance Scene

Sometimes it happens that a dancer starts going to festivals abroad and when they come home again, they are not happy with the selection of dancers, the music, the venue and other things in their local scene. I have seen it after many kizomba festivals. And I have felt it myself. Nothing is good enough anymore. It is easy to start complaining and stop going out.

I can understand it in a way. It is different. Imagine a festival with thousands of dancers and top international DJs in a fantastic venue, and then compare it with the local bar, 20 dancers and a playlist. Of course, it is not the same.


This is an excerpt from one of my books - "The Secrets of Social Dance - How to Become a Popular Dancer" which you can find on Amazon.


Go Out and Dance

But I can tell you one thing. The one thing you can do to make sure the scene doesn't get better is stopping going out. The more people who stop going out in the local scene, the worse it will get. And the more people who keep going out, even if they feel it is not as good as in a festival, the better it will be.

If you want a good local scene, keep going out also to local events. Help make it more crowded. Help raise the level. The more people who go out locally, the better events can be created, even inviting DJ's from abroad. And the more attractive it will be to go out, which leads to more people coming to the events. All of a sudden, it can be a totally different scene.

Support Different Schools

If you are a student trying to learn, and if you have the financial possibility, don't limit yourself to one school. Try different schools. That way, you will help more schools survive. These schools will help promote the dance, and they can reach and take up students from a wider area. The more schools there are, the more students they will recruit to the scene, and the more people will come to parties.

And as a dancer, you will always benefit from taking more classes. Each teacher has a slightly different syllabus and uses different methods to teach. You will get a broader perspective and a better understanding. And in your own dance you can also pick and choose what you prefer to use from the different classes you take. Then you will really learn how to dance and can even start creating your unique style.

Support Different Events

This is pretty self-explanatory. The more events you go to, the more you will be supporting the scene. The more you invest in the scene, the more you will have to choose from.

Of course, it is pretty natural to support your favourite events a bit more. That way, you guide the scene towards what you prefer. But nothing stops you from going to events that are not your favourite, maybe with music that might not be your absolute top choice. Just to help the scene as a whole grow a bit more. The people there might eventually find their way to your favourite music too. And then they will come to your favourite event. And maybe if they really like how you dance, you can make that happen even earlier.

Support the Bar

There is a problem in many dance communities around the world. It can be challenging to get a great venue to dance in. Something that looks nice, is big enough and has a good floor to dance on.

The reason is pretty simple; social dancers generally don't drink much. Or, they don't drink much else than water.

Bar and restaurant owners need to at least survive, and preferably make some money. It seems like an impossible match. The venues often choose events that generate more money. Or they want a fixed rental fee that is too much for an organiser to pay. What to do?

In the scene where I live, most events have moved to the dance schools, which maybe can be a solution, but it also doesn't look as nice as in a bar or restaurant. It doesn't create the same atmosphere.

From time to time you can see a new event in a new location. But you often see them only once, because after the first attempt the owner says they don't make enough money, and the social dancers have to dance somewhere else.

I know that dancers don't drink much, but there might be other solutions to keep the events going. Even if you don't drink alcohol, try to support the bar. Buy something; maybe a soda, maybe bottled water, maybe some peanuts. Or get a "virgin" drink.

If every dancer buys a little something in the bar or from the kitchen, it will usually be enough to keep the night going. It doesn't have to be that much, but try to do your part. Support the bar!

Encourage Beginners

No dance scene can survive for very long without beginners. There is a constant flux. People get in and out of the scene all the time. People's life situation changes. They get a new job that doesn't allow for as much dancing. They might change their interests. They get into relationships. They move out of town. There is a constant outflow, with people leaving. So, we need to have people coming into the scene. And what are people who enter the scene? Yes, they are beginners, and we need them!

The best way to get this influx is to take well care of them. First of all, if we don't take care of them, they will soon leave again. Additionally, I think beginners are maybe the most "contagious" dancers. They often bring friends along to start. They talk about their new hobby. And when they start dancing, others often ask about it. So, if they leave, who will tell others to join the scene? The word will not spread.

Dance with them. Encourage them. Just like any partner, try to make them happy to dance with you. If they make mistakes, don't make a big fuss about it. Just (maybe smile and) dance on.

If they like the dance scene, they will stay. And if they stay, they will become better, especially if you dance with them. And when they continuously improve, one day they will be excellent, and you will really want to dance with them. And then they will remember if you didn't dance with them when they were beginners. Please do the right thing and dance with them; also because someone took the time to dance with you when you were a beginner. It is time to pass that favour on.

Dance with Everyone

Try to follow the golden rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. Don't let anybody spend the whole night waiting to dance.

This means we try to dance with everyone. Maybe you can help invite someone who is a bit shyer than others? Perhaps you can help ask someone a bit more insecure about their dancing? Maybe you can invite someone who seems to struggle a bit more to get dances?

Don't Monopolise

And there is one more thing we can do. Since the social dance scenes often have an uneven proportion of men/women or leads/follows, if you are part of the minority, you can try to limit the number of songs you dance with a single partner. Don't hang on for too long to a partner. Yes, we all have our favourites, so enjoy for a while, but be responsible.

And if you are part of the majority, do the same. Don't try to hang on to a partner too long once you get one. If you see there are many more women than men in the night, and they are waiting to dance, be nice and don't keep dancing song after song with the same partner, even if they don't finish. Be nice and let others dance too. You can even tell your partner you really enjoyed, but you don't want to be selfish.

Maybe not all the time, as we all have our preferred partners, but sometimes, just to make sure more people go home happy from the event.

Tell a Friend

This is just one heading, but it covers three different "Tell a Friend" topics.

  • The first tell a friend topic I suggest here is that you tell a friend, or rather bring them along for a class or social. The easiest is to bring someone who has already expressed some interest in your social dancing. Someone a bit curious. This way, you can help build the scene, and also, you may get a good friend to join you on your nightly adventures. If the scene is very uneven, with more men or more women, consider inviting more of the minority.
  • The second tell a friend topic is about being a friend and telling a friend if they are not adequately taking care of their hygiene. No good friend lets a friend smell bad. Sometimes it might work to just plant the seed of thought. Put it in a casual conversation, how you prepare for a social dancing night. Try to make them think a bit on their own while they hear about how you do it. Or ask what deodorant they use. If they don't use any, it might make them think. If that doesn't work, maybe something has to be said. We can always try to say it nicely. We can always try to frame it in the right way. It is not very nice to be very blunt and tell someone you don't know while you are dancing, but we should always be able to tell a friend if we do it nicely, especially since we do it to try to help.
  • The third tell a friend topic is part promotion, and part helping your scene. If you believe you have gotten something out of this book and think that others would benefit too, feel free to tell some friends about it. 

This is an excerpt from one of my books - "The Secrets of Social Dance - How to Become a Popular Dancer" which you can find on Amazon.


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