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The Arthur Murrays’ Dance Secrets: Dancing Don’ts
Don’t start off on the wrong foot! The man always starts with his left foot—the girl with her right. Easy? Sure, if you know your left from your right… do you?
Don’t, ladies, oh don’t hang your full weight on your partner’s arm… he can’t dance for both of you. You’re a big girl now—balance on your own two feet and support your own weight. If you can’t, then stay home and take your vitamins.
Don’t, brother, don’t walk forward all the time. Your girl friend will get mighty tired of backing up all evening. Try strolling backward for five minutes straight and you’ll get the idea.
Don’t criticize your partner’s dancing… this goes for all genders. Finding fault with the other fellow is a sure sign of a beginner—or worse, of a sourpuss.
Don’t, little lady, blame your crushed toe on your partner. Maybe your back steps are too short. Test yourself—are the toes of your new slippers soiled already? Then, practice long steps, stretching back with your toes. Get out of his way!
Don’t be a sad-eyed Sammy or a sour-apple Sue. The dance floor is a place for fun… do your worrying on your own time. Smile now… or you’re apt to have no one to smile with.
Don’t, ladies, believe for a minute that all you have to do is relax. To relax is to collapse. Be alert, full of pep, on your toes—then you’ll be fun to dance with!
Don’t forget that the best position for dancing is the same as for walking—keep erect. Dancing with hips ‘way back is out-of-date. Besides, remember the stag line’s view… you owe something to your public!
Don’t clutch your partner’s hand too firmly. You may not know your own strength! And, ladies, don’t take a death grip on the poor guy’s thumb… you’ve got him safely hooked for the dance—he can’t get away.
Don’t hum or sing loudly—you’re only an inch from your partner’s ear. Humming or singing is fine if you’re good enough to compete with the orchestra. But if you aren’t sure of the tune or the words, do your warbling in the shower. Soaping and singing make a swell duet.
Don’t be a butterfly, little lady. You have arms, not wings. A loose hold will make you miss the lead and stumble. What a comedown that will be! Hold your left hand in a firm grip on the back of your partner’s shoulder… you’ll keep your balance and your partner’s praise.
Don’t hug the floor! Lift your feet! Lift your feet a fraction of an inch off the floor and move through the air. Air offers no resistance—therefore, you can step lightly and effortlessly. Lift your feet slightly for graceful dancing.
Don’t keep apologizing. When you make a mistake, say “I’m sorry”—but just say it once. If you protest: “Gee, I’m clumsy” too often—someone may believe you.
Don’t expect a happy home life if you dance once with your wife—and then park her for the evening. You know what happens when cars are parked too long… they get cold; they gag and splutter, their carburetors overflow and their feed-lines don’t work right for a long, long time.
Married couples shouldn’t dance together for the whole evening. But, the way to do it gracefully is to change partners with another couple. Four divides into two-and-two… and a much better combination than three.
Don’t go to extremes. A stately tread belongs in marble halls… bouncing high is for the village green. They are both too exaggerated for present day dancing.
Dancers used to hop high in the days of the Galop, Polka, and Leaping Waltz. Then, fashions changed and swung far the other way. Dancing became overly conservative, dignified. Every step seemed meticulously measured.
With this vogue for dignity—in about 1900—came the theory that good dancers must not lift their feet. Dancing teachers of the day preached: “Do not permit a crack of light to show between your feet and the floor.”
This certainly made dull dancing. How can you dance lightly, with expression and animation, when your feet scrape the floor? Yet, even today, some pupils look surprised and skeptical when I tell them they must lift their feet while dancing.