I wrote this post exclusively for my tribe of followers (aka the ladies). So men, no offense, but please exit stage left. Before you leave, check out Julian Hayes’ story of how dancing salsa taught him how to be a better man. Now back to you ladies. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: following.
According to Beyonce, women run the world, but the social Latin dance world teaches us differently. In that world, the man leads, and the woman follows; hence, the rule of “follow and lead.” I know you’re thinking, “I’m not giving up control and following. These men can’t lead….” If you’re not consciously thinking about these harsh sentiments shared by many women, I bet that your body language while dancing speaks louder. Energy doesn’t lie. For example:
Do you perform the steps because you know it already?
Does your body tense up making it difficult to receive signals from your leader?
Did you turn in a direction or perform a step that your leader did not initiate?
If you answered yes to these questions like I did, you’re most likely defying the rules of social dance and not letting your partner lead. You’re hindering the process, and most leaders won’t like dancing with you. So swallow your pride and let him lead (even if he’s awful at it initially)!
Why It’s Better for Women to Let Men Lead
Simple. The process works! The roles complement one another like the principle of yin and yang. Also, it’s not an easy feat to lead and following is less mental work. After I realized the amount of brain power involved with leading, I became humble real quick and embraced my role of follower. So don’t overcompensate and take control of your partner’s part. Just live in the moment, keep your timing and respond to his signals. Let the men worry about the rest!
How to Master the Art of Following
Change Your Mindset: Following is not a bad or negative thing. It doesn’t mean that you’re less important than the leader. All leaders need a follower to dance with. Without you, he’ll be left dancing solo. So work together with your partner and find ways to shine in your roles. Also, don’t undermine your partner and assume that he can’t lead. Give him the chance to perform his task without resistance or criticism from you. Use your femininity and empower him. Words of encouragement go a long way.
Let Go of Control and Trust Him: I know it’s challenging but learn to surrender your body to receive signals from your partner. If he flicks your arm up, then let your arm go up. If he turns you left, then go in that direction. To surrender completely is a strength. You might run things in your world, but on the dance floor, he’s driving the dance. So hop in and enjoy the joy ride! There’s nothing more thrilling than not knowing where he’s leading you.
Dance with Many Partners: The more you practice following, the easier it will become. Sooner than later, you’ll know the difference between a strong and a weak leader. So take it further than class and attend socials. The men there will take the lead and ask you to dance. The least you can do is say yes and follow his lead.
Heighten Your Sense of Touch: The rule of “follow and lead” triggers the sense of touch. There’s a lot of physical contact in the form of cues to pay close attention to. Therefore, I heighten my sense of touch by simulating blindness. For example, I intentionally don’t wear my glasses to class or socials to focus on feeling the subtle nuances of my partner’s body movements. You don’t have to be as drastic as me and walk around blind but diminishing my other senses helps me master following.
Leave Your Issues Off the Dance Floor: The truth is that some of us carry our baggage to the dance floor. There’s an underlying reason why we can’t let go of control and follow our leaders. Some of us are used to doing things our own way or struggle with trust. Others might be natural givers and don’t know how to relax and receive. Whatever those issues are, leave them at home. Dance freely and have fun!
Let’s toast to letting go and letting him lead! Let me know how it’s working out and share any tips that you’ve tried in the comments below.
P.S. And remember ladies, he might run the dance floor, but we know who truly runs the world. Us! But don’t tell him that 🤫.