Partner Dance Success by Don Baarns is a great collection of practical advice for anyone new to partner dancing. The author is a professional drummer turned social dancer who brings experience from building skill as a musician to the dance floor. The subtitle “What I Wish I Knew When I Started Dancing” is very on point. While I come from a Ballroom background rather than social dancing background, I wish I had heard this advice early on.
The book is a series of independent chapters with good advice on many aspects of partner dancing. It appears to be a cleaned up “best of” plus some extras from the author’s blog. Unfortunately, it appears that the blog is no longer available.
His chapters on how to learn to dance are as relevant to American style Foxtrot as they are to social Salsa. And while the club scene is significantly different than the social/practice dances at the Ballroom studios that I learned in, most of the snippets about etiquette and optimizing your dance experience work in both contexts.
Some of my favorite chapters are the ones where he emphasizes listening to songs many times and to listen deeply to the music off the dance floors as a form of practice. I also particularly liked the chapter about protecting your partner.
I am particularly interested in a drummer turned dancer’s perspective on the relationship between music and partner dancing. While his blog seems to no longer be available, his YouTube channel is still up and running as of the time of this writing – Music4Dancers – YouTube. I’ve listened to a number of episodes and while there is less actual music than I would prefer, I will likely go through the rest soon and post if I find any special gems.
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P.S. As I was putting the finishing touches on this post, I realized that there is a Second Volume to this series, so I’ll give that a read. If there is anything to say beyond “more good stuff” I’ll post again.