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The 10% Rule

November 4, 2014

Fleur_30-03-14_3I had a conversation today with a new leader who is taking up Salsa completely of his own volition. Without his girlfriend pushing him (she’s not even going to lessons with him), and it was his idea to do it in the first place. He’s committed, he’s young, he’s clean and cute. He’s the kind of leader all the women say they wish there were more of!

But, at a social practice after a class he was snubbed by a more experienced follower who wouldn’t dance a song with him when he told her he was new. In fact, “Do you know this dance?” was her response to him having the guts to ask.

In personal finance, there’s a rule of thumb about paying yourself: take 10% of every paycheck to save for the future.

I have a challenge for all dancers: let’s apply the 10% rule to dancing. New dancers are our futures. How about making 10% of all your social dances dances with beginners? Starting right now.

And if you’re an instructor make that 25% or more.

Ifs, Ands & Buts

In anticipation of some excuses I have heard, I have a few responses to common reasons people say they DON’T want to dance with beginners.

  1. It hurts. No, dancing with people who don’t know how to connect properly hurts, and that happens at every level. Don’t assume a beginner will hurt you just because they’re a beginner. If you have an injury or sensitivity, you can simply say so up front and that allows you to end any dance early if it hurts. You don’t have to place blame. “I’d love to dance but I am nursing a shoulder injury so please don’t be offended if I have to end the dance early.”
  2. It’s boring/I won’t get better dancing with beginners. Really? What I like about dances with beginners is that it’s my best chance to practice my own stuff, be it technique or a styling I’m trying to nail down, etc. Yes, sometimes you’re not totally up for it. Sometimes you’re mentally exhausted or physically exhausted. But for the most part, there’s always something you can take away from a “basic” dance.
  3. I’ll pick up bad technique. If you believe that, please come and ask me for a private lesson, as you have probably never been shown how to dance your own dance with anyone.
  4. I’ve paid my dues. That’s not how the 10% rule works. The 10% rule is valid forever, until you retire. If you’re an active social dancer, you have a vested interest in helping the community to develop and grow. So keep “paying your dues”.