How to avoiding Ballroom dancing collisions – by Cassie Tucker

Cassie performing a spectacular Award.

Avoiding Ballroom collisions - the 'handbrake'.


DK Ballroom Instructor Cassie Tucker describes how the lady has a key role in floor craft in Ballroom dancing.


"Avoiding Collisions - The Handbrake

Oftentimes, the role of the leader can be daunting on the Dancefloor. The Man is not only in charge of musical timing, leading choreography and maintaining the frame of the partnership, but is also responsible for navigating the Dancefloor and avoiding collisions.  Knowing when to stop and start to avoid other people is a challenge that often does not arise during practice.  Additionally, there is only so much that can be seen when maintaining head position to left.  


The sole reason the Man is responsible for navigation is because he is facing forward most of the time.  After all, why put the Lady in charge of steering when her poise has her staring out the back window!  But what about the times when the Man is travelling backwards or turning?  Well guess what?  The Lady is travelling forward.  This is her time to take charge!


Although the Lady’s hold is not optimised for leading, it does have one great tool for stopping and slowing the partnership; the Handbrake.  The handbrake refers to the thumb and middle finger of the Lady’s left hand which rests around the right bicep of the Man.  By squeezing these fingers together, she can quickly alert the Man to any oncoming obstacles.  A sharp, abrupt squeeze means STOP!!  A gentle gradual squeeze means slow down. 


Often, travelling backwards can be one of the most unnerving things for a Man because they feel they are driving blind (for example, Barclay Blues is scary for a lot of men with all of those backward steps).  Lady’s are used to it.  Relying on your partner’s handbrake to provide signals for stopping and slowing can remove a lot of uncertainty.


On a side note:  Gents, if you usually like to use your lady as a shield to protect protect yourself from obstacles, don’t be surprised if her handbrake “fails” to alert you of oncoming obstacles (I’m looking at you David Burdon).


Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect routine on a crowded Dancefloor, but by relying on your co-pilot to help you navigate, you will both be enjoying far fewer collisions."