In space you are weightless. You could be moved about with the slightest touch. A follower aims to make themselves feel weightless to the leader. Your dancing resistance has nothing to do with your weight on the bathroom scales. I know of many large followers who are light as a feather to move, to dance with. I also know of many miniature super lean ladies in their early twenties that resist like crazy and thus have a high dancing weight.

Age has little bearing on one’s dancing resistance. Whilst our reaction times may slow as we get older, our experience can compensate. You get lots of elderly light dancers and lots of young heavy dancers.

A follower’s weight is measured by how much force is required to get them to respond in the way you want them to. A light follower needs the slightest touch, the slightest push to move them. A heavy follower needs much more. A heavy follower is obstinate and awkward. Assertive followers tend to be heavier. To follow well, one must yield and move as directed, effortlessly, by the lead. You yield when you follow and assert when you lead. If you like to be assertive then take up the lead. To be a good dancer you must lead and follow, preferably share the lead. Lead sharing is central to Max Jive. You can call yourself a follower, or a leader, but not a dancer until you can do both.

Leading Ladies

I spy a lady across the room who is leading. I know her from years back. She is rigid, cumbersome - a heavy follower. I jump at the chance to dance with her. Her leading me. I am taken aback. She leads quite nicely. Ok, she has not got a wide range of moves at her disposal and there are many pauses. Nevertheless, it was a real pleasure. I dance with everyone, so in time I would get round to dancing with her. Given her qualities, I would always prefer to follow with her. Awkward heavy followers can be decent leaders.

This is Max Jive’s followers’ resistance scale.

I am sure many will be asking, “How do I become lighter?” First and foremost, stop guessing. Stop trying to predict. You are not a clairvoyant or a soothsayer. You will respond to the signals. They are signals requesting you to move, come forward or to turn. Aside from signals you will feel motions through your hands, a nudge on your back and so forth. You weight is dictated by how smoothly, how quickly, how calmly you react to those subtle motions. The leader will motion you to do what they want you to do. You can either resist or comply.

There is something worse that being heavy and that is being floppy. However, a follower needs to be floppy and stiff. Floppy in the up and down movements. Stiff as a brush, in the side to side, left to right, circular movements. Stiff on all movements on the same horizontal plane. Up and down the arm moves alone. For the left right movements, the arm stays where it is in relation to their upper body. The body, the torso, the hips, the legs, the feet move in a turn, not the arms.

I should be able to lift your arm upwards and put your hand behind your head with utmost ease. When I do this, nothing aside from your arm should move. The moment I introduce a horizontal motion your body will instantly turn as one. Moving and turning with your arm in a fixed position is called frame. You hold that frame particularly in horizontal movements.

Vertical movements: floppy

Horizontal movements: stiff

Wait, wait, and wait.

A follower of substance will concentrate on their boogie and wait for the lead. No need to guess what is to come. No need to predict. Just wait and strut, jive, dance on the spot, until that lead is given.

I test followers. I use the yo-yo. When we are palm to palm facing each other, I hold it there. On purpose. To see. what happens. And what happens most of the time? Most of the time they will spin off on their own. They spin out on their own as that is what they assumed was coming. I want them to wait. I want them to have a jig about on the spot and I will too. A few seconds later I will then give them the push. I have found a way to keep them in place. A clever trick that helps train followers.

Why is waiting so important? Dancing in a predictable, regular, same, same, same, way is fine for many but when we attempt any expression it falls apart quickly. You will never get above level 1 in dance grade. Many start around level 1 then drop down to level 0 after a few lessons. There they remain in perpetuity until it twigs. People twig that less is more. They react by the impulses given to them rather than on impulse. They listen to the music and get lost in it. The leader guides. The leader adds. Both can be expressive.

Leaders’ assertiveness

One needs some assertiveness and confidence, but you are dancing not forcing your will on an opponent. I would imagine a lady may be thrilled by an alpha male hurling them about with wanton abandon. This is personal preference. I think most followers like confidence and decisiveness, but many get their ‘arms ripped off’. I use the word aggression as some are indeed far too aggressive. Max Jive’s weight scale applies to the leaders in the equivalent manner. Most leaders are medium. If you are a leader that doesn’t care, well you should. I have heard from plenty of followers that have been ‘injured’ and put off dancing by it.

What about me? Well, I am going to grade myself as an ultra-light leader, medium-heavy follower. I am working all the time on the follow and will get lighter as time goes by. I hope so anyway.

Is it psychological? You have a pretty little thing in your hands, or a handsome dude and may give them undue compensation. You may rate their dancing weight with some bias.

The Plough Inn, Stoke Lacy, Bromyard, Herefordshire, HR7 4HG

Easy access off the A465 main Bromyard - Hereford road. 6 mins from Burley Gate.

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