by Joanie Fuller

I’m sure every lady has danced with a "Pattern Man" in her dance career. They are the road hogs of the dance track--best known for their confining two-handed movements, the grips that hold you hostage for two minutes. They make the relationship one-sided and give the lady little time for any creativity, even if she had the intention of showing off a little. Talk about watching the clock, yawn!

Don’t get defensive guys, my hubby is one and I love him in spite of his faults. We know he ONLY likes Country Two-Step, and has done the same around-the-waist and over-the-head move for the 14 years I’ve known and loved him. (Hi, sweetie!) He’s so predictable that I can dance with or without him. I feel like saying, "Wait there dear, I’ll circle the dance floor and be back in a minute – it’ll save you the trip!"

I know some guys who just cannot change a pattern. It’s as though it were etched in concrete and must be completed as planned. Even if the song ends, they must stay on the dance floor to count out those final beats and finish it off as if it were a knitting stitch. We wouldn’t want it unraveling now would we? Don’t even plan on any breaks or even a whisper of a pause. If you’re in the clenches during a break, the only thing you’ll be able to move is your mouth and we know most ladies don’t have difficulty with this concept one bit. Remember one thing, honey, Pattern Man stops for no one.

"The Glare"

I’ve even tried a technique I invented called "the glare." I’ve been known to encourage some Pattern Men to listen to the music in order to add some nice musical interpretation. I’ve even tried yelling when the breaks are approaching, but shouting over the music is more fitting during square dancing and just doesn’t work in our West Coast Swing world. Sign language isn’t possible (if you catch my drift), but I’ve communicated many times with a firm squeeze – it awakens him from Pattern-glaze."

You’ll notice, most Pattern Men don’t look you in the eye. They may be looking your way, but they’re not seeing. They’re doing other things, like counting, planning, or even trying to lift and throw you to wherever you need to be before they run out of the prescribed bpm’s.

Most times they look at the floor trying to decipher their imaginary schematic. Let’s see, is it the west corner of the south side, or the south side of the east corner or 30 degrees west longitude or is it latitude? "Hold it, hold it," he mumbles – "you’re supposed to go right-over-left, NOT left-over-right!" Sorry, buster, I don’t dance to spec, let’s move on! How about this comment I heard once, "Only do one free spin here please, not two!" Excuuuuuse me, but FREE means just that, FREE to be me!

I will readily admit, the guy does have a tough job. I try leading occasionally and it’s quite a job, thinking of all that stuff and trying to look cool, too. It does take some time to master. And the woman doesn’t help by throwing in busy footwork, which really throws a Pattern Man off. I’ve heard comments like, "All your footwork is confusing me!" Well, pardon me, I’ll just put myself on cruise control. Wake me when it’s over.

How many patterns does it take to bore one partner? ONE! Especially, if it’s not leadable and the lady didn’t attend that particular workshop. How about those complicated patterns where the guy turns his back to you and starts a series of steps moving side to side, forward and back, with kicks, slides, and ending with a lunge. By the time you catch on, it’s over! One good thing, while he’s got his back to you, there may be time to order a pizza. He’ll never know you’re missing. That way, you’ll not be left hungry while he feasts on his ego.

There needs to be a time when we stop working on MOVES and start learning connection and creativity! The lady has a contribution, too. In my opinion, observing your partner’s ability and style, and trying to match it as you dance, is worth more than a dozen patterns. Easy for a follower to say.

Chocolate Chips with No Cookie

But, I’ll tell ya, some guys make it difficult when they think that all there is to this dance is a series of engineered moves that come one after another with no breathing space. Kinda’ like having all the chocolate chips, but no cookie to put them on. If they only knew how much we appreciate the simple side pass and underarm turn they wouldn’t spend so much time concocting moves that twist our arms out of their sockets and wrap us up like mummies.

Ah, I feel better now. I must close so that I may re-wrap my bandages and prepare for my next dance.