I was starting to get annoyed with Xandy.
During a private lesson with him at Dutch Zouk Congress, he told me to lead him. Each time I did though, he would stop, shake his head, and keep saying that I wasn’t getting it.
He would say to lead him with my whole body but it was obvious by his reactions that I wasn’t leading *shit*.
When I started to learn Zouk, the most common feedback I received from teachers and follows was to be more "assertive".
I found it confusing because I was always hearing that men on the dance floor were often not listening to the women whether it was by being too rough, not noticing when something wasn’t working on their body, or not noticing how they wanted to express the music.
Wasn’t me being sensitive and listening more a good thing?
The first time I was given this feedback, it didn’t even come from the follow herself. A friend of hers sent me a message the next day telling me to be more assertive.
Fine. Next time I danced with her, I squeezed her with my whole body.
Five minutes later, she told me “Yeah, I couldn’t breathe when you held me. Not so strong next time, mkay?”
So more physical force wasn’t the answer to being more “assertive” either. Maybe I just needed do exactly and only what I wanted.
Lead like a boss.
But that doesn’t seem to be it either.
At a social last year, a buddy told me about this girl I had to dance with. He said that she did pole dancing, hip-hop, and that I should do my Magic Mike stuff with her.
So I asked her to dance and straight out of the gates I went full Channing Tatum on her. My bodywaves were singing the lyrics of “Pony” while my hips made sweet, sweet love to...no one.
Before the song was over, she said thank you and walked away.
Fair enough. That one is definitely on me.
After several increasingly frustrating minutes trying to get me to lead him with my full body, Xandy told me to stop.
He said, “This is how you’re leading me.”
He lead me and it felt like a cat sneezing: barely audible but cute nonetheless.
Then he lead me in the exact same movement again, this time with his full body.
Sweet baby Buddha, I could feel his entire *being* move me. I felt every ounce of desire and intention surging through his body leading me.
He then told me to lead my practice partner. I lead her and was pretty sure she was going to say it was too aggressive or too rough.
Instead, when Xandy asked her how she felt, she responded with: “I trusted Ben more.”
Turns out, by me leading with my full desire, she could relax knowing exactly what I wanted and respond from there. I was still listening to her body, I just made it abundantly clear in my leading what she brought out in me, and shared it fully with her.
Of course, I can only speak for what I needed (and still need) in my journey but I know that I’m not the only recovering “nice guy” that could benefit from a little more of this flavor of assertiveness.
Oh, and after I was finally able to lead clearly, Xandy loudly smacked his hands together and yelled “FUCK. YES!”
That was cool too.