The other night Onyx and I went out swing dancing with Sinclair and Kristin at the most awesome Century Ballroom here in Seattle. Sinclair and Kristin have done lots of swing dancing, I’ve done a small amount many many years ago but have done a fair amount of dancing in general, and Onyx had never done any before1. There was a short lesson before the band got started to teach us some very basic steps and we were divided up into “leaders” and “followers” (which was nicely gender-neutral terminology and not surprising for Capitol Hill).
I was suddenly struck and unsure of which side to go on. Every time I had done swing or any partner dancing in the past I’ve always been a leader, but since Onyx was coming (he wasn’t there yet, he had to work late) I decided I would learn it from the follower’s perspective so he could be the leader.I’m sure he would have had no issue with the opposite generally if it were just the two of us, in fact I’ve lead him in partner dancing when we’ve gone out before and neither of us feels strange about it, but since it’s a social event I thought it would be a nice for me to get experience in the follower side of things. After all, I could always switch later, not to mention I would get experience with both sides either way.
We all got in a large circle of pairs and learned the very basic six count rock-step and step-step as well as a couple turns and there was great emphasis in leaders learning how to lead and followers learning how to follow. Since basically all of my experience has been as a leader I had some issues giving up control.
Yes, I actually am talking about swing dancing, but of course this is an excellent analogy for all the problems I’ve had as a submissive. You know, just in case you didn’t already figure that out (though you probably did, I’m not discounting your intelligence I just have a tendency to over-explain. Anyway.)
I really enjoyed myself, and because the instructors had the followers switch partners every few steps while we were all going through the brief lesson I was able to dance with a number of different people, three of which asked me to dance later on in the night. I only ended up dancing with one of them because first I was catching Onyx up on the dancing technique as he had missed the instruction and then I was nursing the ankle I rolled while dancing (ouch), and by the time I was dancing again the two who I declined at the time were busy with others or had left.
I learned, however, something that I’ve been learning a lot in the last few months, especially since I got back from Juneau, and that is that I can follow and I can do a damn good job at it too when I allow myself to. When I trust that the other person is able to lead me I am able to allow them to do so, though it does take a lot of practice especially since I’m also quite a strong leader myself.
Onyx did exceptionally well as I taught him how to lead, especially for someone who claims to have no rhythm, it took a little while but he got the basic steps down. He’s agreed to take classes with me, which I am extremely thrilled about and plan to hold him to.
I was amused at how much like in the beginnings of our power relationship I was again teaching him how to lead me so that I could adequately follow, though not doing a great job at it myself. I’m sure with enough practice as well as much help from others he will become an excellent leader to my follower just as he has off of the dance floor.
I’ll still be leading with others, though, whenever I can.
- Onyx thinks he is completely without rhythm and body coordination despite having learned both while he was in the Norwegian army and being able to dance at the local goth club when we go out–granted goth dancing isn’t about rhythm, but anyway… [↩]