1. Dance Dodgems
You're concentrating so much on your own steps that you have no clue what's going on around you and you're pretty much running over everybody (and everything) on the dance floor. No more friends for you!
It's the leader's responsibility to protect the follower on the dance floor and be aware of obstacles around the room, including people, furniture and walls. This can be quite challenging for beginners. As a leader, you have to remember your steps, figure out the leads, connect with the music (and your partner!) as well as be aware of what's going on around you. Phew!
This is achievable through practice over time - as they say, it won't happen overnight, but it will happen. Of course, the followers can help out here - if the lady sees an obstacle behind the leader, she can apply pressure with her left hand on the leader's back.
... And I'm not referring to line dancing! In this scenario, you step on each other's feet more often than not! Toe-stomping can happen when (a) one, or both, of you have forgotten your steps; (b) the leader steps but doesn't lead the follower to do the same (or vice versa: the leader leads the follower to take a step but doesn't take a step himself); and/or (c) the leader and follower aren't stepping on the same count (one person is a step ahead of the other).
The aim of partnered dancing is to move together as though you are one. This comes from having a solid dance frame as well as a 50/50 partnership in the dance - the leader leads and the follower follows. The leader needs to provide the follower with signals (ie: leads) that make sense and the job of the follower is to respond to those signals (even if they aren't correct!). As they say, it takes two to Tango!
3. Dance Wrestling...
This is where you think you're Latin dancing, but really you'd look more at home in unitards wrestling each other to the ground. This can sometimes look like you're rowing and it can come down to a couple of things. The first no-no in this situation is collapsing the dance frame, which happens when the arms are not locked into place, the arms are "rowing" back and forth, and/or there is not enough tension in the frame. Having a good dance frame is super important as it forms the foundation of the dance. A good dance frame provides a solid connection with your partner, allows you to move as one, and makes you look good as dancers!
The second no-no that contributes to dance wrestling is a poor leading/following relationship. Both of you may want to lead, or the follower is not contributing to her end of the bargain by being responsive to the leader's leads. The follower is responsible for keeping the distance between the leader and herself; it may help to imagine that you have a balloon between your torsos. The job of the follower is to make sure that she keeps the same distance between herself and the leader - if she gets too close, the balloon will pop; if she gets too far, the balloon will fall onto the ground (...and the toe stomping begins)!
So, that's just a few no-nos to be aware of when dancing with your partner. Overcoming these will help you become a better dancer and have more connection with your partner on (and off) the dance floor. Feel free to share your experiences and your solutions to these no-nos using the Comments section below.