Allow me to express a great big thank you to the great Jen Daudlin for stepping in on very short notice to teach the two Salsaholics classes last week. Where was I? Lounging on a beach somewhere? Doing a guest appearance on Dancing with the Stars? (I wish!) Abducted by aliens obsessed with learning bachata (which would be interesting and different)? No, unfortunately I was wired up for sound and saline locks in Sunnybrook hospital after an extremely dangerous close-encounter with EMTs trying not to sound panicked as they told me, “We’re required to take you to the closest hospital.”
Without going into complete details, the upshot of being protected against future such incidents is that I had a surgery which requires me to maintain my left arm below the level of my shoulder until the end of July or so. Which, to invoke the famous phrase of the dearly departed Colbert Report, brings us to tonight’s word: Accommodation.
One of the concepts that we emphasize at Salsaholics is safety. Regular class members will know that I go out of my way to point out the potential danger points in various moves, and how each partner can keep themselves, and the other partner safe. We talk about holding arms locked tight during led turns. We focus on the idea of the leader following the follower. Not over-extending a partner’s reach, especially if there is a big height variation between partners. Keeping hips and shoulders locked during turns so as not to torque a back into spasm.
If, however, you have a pre-existing injury, both you and your partner must take extra precautions and pay special attention. The cardinal rule is that if you have a situation or condition that you need accommodated, you MUST tell your partner before you start to dance. It is then incumbent on the partner to figure out: (a) how they are going to modify their own dancing style so as not to make whatever causes the accommodation worse; (b) how they are going to remember to do so throughout an entire dance; and (c) how often they need to check in with the accommodation-needing partner to make sure everything is alright.
On the other side, anyone needing an accommodation, in addition to informing each and every partner through the dance session, must speak up immediately if their partner did something that made things painful. This should be done in a friendly, reminder-ish sort of way… unless the partner appears to be oblivious to your request. At that point, any dancer has the personal obligation (not to mention permission) to stop the dance in mid-song, thank the partner, and excuse themselves off the dance floor.
People sometimes use clever devices to signal and/or remember an accommodation is needed. One well-known member of the West Coast Swing community had her appendix out. She pasted a Canadian flag on her tummy with a notice, DON’T TOUCH THE FLAG! Another person who had fingers taped together after a hand injury danced with a partner who placed his corresponding hand firmly in his pants pocket throughout the dance to remind himself not to grab her injured digits. As for me this week, it will be mostly a right-hand lead with quick, left-hand releases, to protect my recuperating shoulder. Perhaps I should buy a flag.
See you on the dance floor!