Our dance instructor, Liz Nania, Director of Out to Dance! offers some advice to couples preparing their first dance as a married couple:
We’re here! We’re queer! When I was out at one of the many same-sex marriage rallies at the State House in Boston, cheering with all the other queer and straight supporters, my favorite sign was held by a gay man: “We’ve been planning your weddings forever! Let us do our own!” As a dance teacher who’s been teaching LGBT folks and really nice straight folks to dance at the heterosexual folks’ weddings for 20 years, I get it. Finally, my gay and lesbian dance students and I have the same joyful opportunity to dance at our own weddings. So what will you and your spouse-to-be do with that?
Envisioning your dance: When you’re planning your wedding, the fantastic part about being lesbian or gay is the freedom to choose which traditions you’ll keep, and how you’ll keep them. If you choose to have a first dance, the possibilities are truly endless. Who will lead, who will follow, or will both? Will your song be a romantic old torch song, an indie alternative, or a little bit of opera? Couples often ask me if they’ll be able to dance to some unique particular song they love. My answer is always an enthusiastic yes. All you need is help finding the rhythm and tempo, and tailoring your footwork to fit. After many years teaching ballroom, salsa and swing dancing to same-sex and opposite-sex couples, I know without a doubt you can mold your dancing to fit absolutely any kind of music imaginable, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Find a dance teacher who will respect your song choice.
Who should lead? Another bonus for queer people: the best person for the job gets it! The short answer to who should lead is, the Control Queen should lead. May I elaborate? The leader will be the person who feels more comfortable choosing and initiating each step during your dance. It has nothing to do with height or gender, it’s about dance confidence. Sometimes it’s also about who would prefer to relax and forgo that responsibility (follow), or who would like to be in the driver’s seat. The leader has the more intellectual job and the follower has the more intuitive job. Also, the follower will probably be spinning a bit more than the leader. Can you trade off lead and follow? Of course, but you’re going to be spending twice as much time learning two roles, hours which could be spent learning more fun moves; it’s your choice. (Also, most people actually have a hard time identifying leader and follower in same-sex dance couples, often making vague assumptions based on which dancer appears more butch in the moment.)
Choreography: How choreographed (read: memorized) will you want your dance to be? Not very. The biggest mistake couples make is expecting to have a completely choreographed performance, and unless you dance for a living, this will do nothing but create enough stress to eclipse all other wedding day stress. If you forget one tiny move in your memorized routine, the rest of your dance may collapse in a heap like Dorothy’s house onto the Wicked Witch of the West. When a couple works with me, I help them create a beginning and an ending, and I teach them a repertoire of fun, spontaneous steps to use naturally whenever they choose. Don’t let dance studios talk you into sinking lots of hours and cash into choreographed routines; most of my students successfully complete their wedding dance prep in about three hours of private lessons, if their song is simple.
The most important thing to do in your first dance? Enjoy your magical, romantic, intimate and joyful experience!
Tags: boston massachusetts, dance students, dance teacher, first dance, gay, gay man, lesbians, marriage, married couple, Massachusetts, planning, rhythm, salsa, same-sex, same-sex marriage, song choice, straight supporters, weddings