God Awful Dancers

27 Mar

“My God! How long is this bloody song?”

What dancer hasn’t thought this? It could genuinely be that the song is exceptionally long, that you’re running out of moves as a lead or you’re getting bored of the same stuff as a follow.

This happens, and there are plenty of salsa songs that bring you into that terrifying seven, eight or even nine minute territory where only the most experienced and skilled salseros feel comfortable. Given time, these are perfectly avoidable if you can remember which songs are particularly long. Just listen to the start and if you know it’s a long one make yourself scarce. Maybe it’s time for a bathroom break?

But I’m not going to talk about those dances that feel long because the songs are long themselves; you learn to manage these with time, experience and plenty of improvisation. No, I’m going to talk about the other “LONG” dances; long because of the person you’re dancing with.

Now you all know what I’m talking about right! The kind of dance that feels like it’s never going to end. The type of dance where the torture just continues in excruciating slow motion. Where you struggle to hide the look of unhappiness/boredom/pure terror on your face.

My God! When will the  torment end???

My God! When will the torment end???

These dances happen on occasion and for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common GADs (God Awful Dancers) I’ve carefully categorized here for easy reference.

NOTE 1: This is a non-exhaustive list, some people will always find new ways to make a dance unpleasant!!!
NOTE 2: This list is completely unisex. While it may seem like I’m speaking about a specific gender, both men and women alike are capable of these offenses.

The Claw: One of the most common of the unpleasant dancers, the claw is characterized by their vice-like grip and inability to let go when they’re supposed to. Encounters with The Claw often end in sprained fingers, wrists and even shoulders resulting from high speed turns that would have gone smoothly if they had just left go.

Can be identified from a distance by abnormally well developed forearm muscles and fingers.

Unpleasantness Rating: 7

B.O. Bob: Another beast that occasionally rears it’s ugly head on the scene is the crafty Body Odor Bob. I say crafty because from a distance they can appear to be perfectly harmless, maybe even attractive but as soon as you get up close and personal your nose-hairs begin to melt and you scream internally in the knowledge that you can’t hold your breath for the entire song.

Can be identified on occasion by slightly discolored armpit-stains and a small swarm or flies buzzing overhead. A good long-range sense of smell can also help with avoidance.

Unpleasantness Rating: 9

Cat o’ nine tails: Beautifully flowing cross-body lead, perfectly executed turn-pattern, now into the double-spin… WHACK. Time to eat extensions, amateur. Spinning hair can be a true safety hazard on the dance floor and the level of pain/discomfort inflicted varies according to the length of the hair, the style it’s tied in and the speed of the turn. I’ve come up with a simple formula to calculate the pain inflicted by spinning hair:                                    

                                                                 P = S x (T x L)

where P=Pain, S=Spinning Speed, T=Tightness of the Plait (based on a scale of 1-5, 1=a loose ponytail and 5=one single solid plait (otherwise called “the nunchuk”) and L=length.

Identified by long, untied hair occasionally with some poor guys teeth hanging off the end.

Unpleasantness Rating: Variable from 1 (kind of annoying) to 10 (could someone help me find my eyeball?)

Ever get hit with one of these babies full force in the face? Try dancing salsa and you'll get a good idea of what it feels like.

Ever get hit with one of these babies full force in the face? Try dancing salsa and you’ll get a good idea of what it feels like.

Wandering-Hands Will: Mostly a worry for female dancers (although “Wilminas” have also been documented) “Wandering-hands Will” is infamous for a tendency to put his hands where they shouldn’t be. No matter how simple the turn or combination, Will can find a way to touch parts of a woman’s physique that only her boyfriend (who Will prays is not watching) has permission to touch. Be it hands wandering a little bit too far south in the rear or a little too far north in the front, Will will “chance his arm at anything” and if he senses his prey has taken offense, will only reply with an incredibly fake “Sorry” or an disturbingly creepy sneer and wink.

Not that easy to identify as they come in all shapes and sizes but keep and eye out for the guy with his shirt unbuttoned to his naval and enough grease in his hair to fry a bag of chips.

Unpleasantness rating: 7-10

Bossy Bertha: The scourge of any lead, Bossy Bertha refuses to be told what to do and insists on controlling the flow of the dance herself. Simple turn here? “Nope, I want to do another basic”. How about an open-break? “No way, I want to do a cross body lead”. Let’s get back in time with the music? “What are you talking about, my rhythm is perfectly in time with the song. Do what I’m doing”. It simply does not matter what you do with Bertha, she will reserve the right to change it at her discretion at whatever awkward moment she sees fit. Oh and by the way, when something goes wrong… it’s your fault, not hers.

Identified by a constant scowl and general inability to smile…ever

Unpleasantness Rating: 8-9

The Screamer: This is going great, she’s followed everything I’ve thrown at her perfectly. This is one of the best dances I’ve ever had. Oh here comes that part of the song that I love, time for a super smooth dip… EAR SHATTERING SCREAM!!! There do exist some follows who, no matter how well they dance, are just not comfortable with dips. Be warned because if you try one you’re the one who’s going to have everyone looking at you like you’ve just molested someone.

Again, hard to identify but be aware a slightly nervous look in their eyes and traces of human skin under the finger nails (from the last time someone dipped them and they had to grab on for dear life).

Unpleasantness Rating: 5

Poker Face: Especially common amongst dance newbies, Poker Face’s distinguishing features are lack of … well, distinguishing features. No matter how much they’re actually enjoying the dance, they are gonna do their best not to show it. No smile, no eye contact (before anyone makes a comment I’m already well aware that I’ve had problems with this myself. I’m improving…I hope) no indication of emotion whatsoever. A dance with a Poker Face can really make you feel like you’re the worst dancer ever, no matter how well the dance actually went.

Can be easily confused with Bossy Bertha off the dance floor but in general they’re lack of smiling only stops when the dance starts.

Unpleasantness Rating: 6-7

Demolition Man: His objective, eliminate as many couples in his vicinity as he can using only his partner as a weapon. The Demolition Man will pull, push, throw and swing his partner into every couple on the dance floor with little regard for his follow who ends up feeling much like a rag-doll that’s been played with by a pit-bull.

Identified by a complete lack of spatial awareness, this is the guy that pushes grannies and small children out of the way when he’s trying to get on a bus.

Unpleasantness Rating: 15 (he bothers other couples too)

The Lost Boy: The Lost Boy dances in a perpetual “search mode”. Perpetually searching for the beat, that is. It’s a phase that many of us go through at the start but there are a few specimens that never seem to find it, no matter how long they’ve been dancing. They know plenty of combinations, plenty of tricks but they put it all together with the smoothness of a drunk monkey filling a dishwasher i.e. a complete and utter disaster.

Some people are about as efficient as this little guy at finding the beat.

Some people are about as efficient as this little guy at finding the beat.

Identified by an over enthusiastic twinkle in his eye when asked to dance and by uncoordination in simple tasks such as walking from his seat to the dance floor (when of course it’s already too late)

Unpleasantness Rating: 5-8

Caveat Dancerus There are many more ways that people can make a dance absolutely horrible but I think I’ve covered some of the main culprits with this list.

The main problem is that you can never really know how someone is going to dance until you actually dance with them. Every time you ask a dance of or accept a dance from someone you’ve never danced with before you run the risk of meeting a B.O. Bob or a Bossy Bertha. You can however, rest assured that they will let you know quite early in the dance who they really are… just so you can fully enjoy the torture of the next few minutes.

Which of these GADs have you met yourself? Let me know in the comments.

Keep Dancing Folks


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13 Responses to “God Awful Dancers”

  1. Chilly March 28, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    Bossy Bertha’s are the worst for me. Unpleasantness rating 10+1! I can pretty much deal with the rest, but when you don’t follow – why the hell are you partner dancing in the first place?
    Great Article Rich. Love the pic!

    • The Dancing Irishman March 28, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

      I had one dancer in particular in mind when I was writing that one. I had to control myself, the emotions were starting to boil over a little haha!

  2. Natalia Betancourt March 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    LOL! a veces pasa! pero tú mismo lo has dicho, nos toca “aguantarnos”, de lo contrario estaríamos violando la etiqueta dancer, según tus mandamientos!! jajaj.

    • The Dancing Irishman March 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

      Exacto, nos toca aguantarnos pero eso no quiere decir que tenemos que disrutarlo jajaja!

  3. Reika Shucart June 27, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    Great post! I could not help but laugh out loud while reading this, you are right on point about everything. For me personally, I can’t stand ‘demolition man’ and also being a girl I can’t stand ‘wandering-hands will’. Although I could be the ‘cat’o nine tails’ on the dance floor without realizing….. But I promise I will pay more attention to my hair’s S=Spinning Speed, and T=Tightness of the Plait next time 😉

    • The Dancing Irishman June 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

      Yeah, we’ve all got to watch out to make sure we’re not acting like one of these characters on the floor.
      By the way Reika, I haven’t forgotten about your email, I was away from Cali for the past few days but I’ll reply to you soon.

  4. abby sue August 22, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Ooo def the Wandering hands guy, my least favorite. The only one I will leave on the floor. So I was at this club and this friendly looking guy asked me to dance, things were going well and we were chatting about our dance instructors. My partner suddenly looked up and said, “Oh there’s my teacher” and he turned me around. It was like a scene from a movie. The instructor was leaning against one of the pillars on the the dance floor, dressed all in white and was not too bad looking. The student pushed me at the instructor and we began dancing. It started out good but then I noticed a circle of guys forming around us. It felt like sharks circling. The instructor was moving faster and spinning and slinging me all over the place. While his hands were ending up in all kinda inappropiate places. I suddenly stopped and pretended something was wrong with my shoe. Then I bolted for the bathroom and never got close to the dance floor the rest of the night. Yikes!

    • The Dancing Irishman August 23, 2014 at 5:28 am #

      For a “teacher” to do that is disgraceful! I have no time for people who take advantage like that. Nice move on ending the dance and getting away from him.

  5. Salsa_Samurai November 25, 2014 at 5:50 am #

    Man, why did I miss this post? 😀

    I’m sure many unfortunate girls have encountered another species of predator on the dancefloor: the Pedagomaniac.

    This one just can’t keep his mouth shut and enjoy a dance. No… he needs to correct his partner’s (supposed) mistakes during a party dance – accompanied with a smug, condescending smile.

    Can ruin a beginner girl’s whole evening.

    Of course he always has one of the other GAD symptoms too.

    • The Dancing Irishman November 25, 2014 at 9:48 am #

      I know the type well haha. I can’t believe I didn’t mention this guy. Thanks for the reminder.


  1. The Worst Four Minutes of My Life | The Dancing Irishman - April 2, 2013

    […] week I wrote about some of the GADs (God Awful Dancers) that can almost make you want to call it quits in your dancing […]

  2. Is it OK to refuse a dance? | The Dancing Irishman - August 19, 2014

    […] are almost unlimited but I covered some of the main culprits a while back in an article titled “God Awful Dancers”. Which begs the question “Why would I knowingly ruin something that I love so much by dancing […]

  3. Better Grip, Better Salsa! | Latin Dance Community - October 13, 2014

    […] even written about this before under the title “The Claw” when I wrote an article on God Awful Dancers. It’s definitely worth mentioning that this is an issue common in men and women and […]

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