The Dancer’s Code of Chivalry


If thou thinkest this image belongs to me, thou art sadly mistaken.

 

Hear ye! Hear ye!

To all literate I give to thee this dancer’s code of chivalry.

Dancing be a gentle art, not meant to rent limbs apart.

By this code shall ye abide and may Fortune ever be at your side

So, I’d say that writer’s block is officially over and done with.  Here I was thinking that this block would never end when this goofy, medieval feeling came over me.  Actually, for me, that’s quite normal.  I may be a post-Cartesian child, but I resolve to be as medieval-minded as I can!  Ahem, I shall stop with this eccentric nerdiness before any of my readers flee.  To business.

Without a doubt, the Medieval period is my favorite era in history.  It was more than cool-looking but undoubtedly heavy chain-mail, fair maidens, and bad hygiene.  I adore the mindset, the philosophy, the literature, and the art.  Cynics proclaim that chivalry is dead.  I heartily disagree.  The men I dance with are most chivalrous, each in his own way.  Really, chivalry is just another word for manners.  Manners certainly seem scarce today, but this fair, Terpsichorean maiden believes that dancing tends to be the best environment to learn to cultivate manners while also seeing them at their best.  I find that manners are just statements that are rather common-sensical, but have to be written down so that everyone may learn.  (Sometimes we humans, myself included, can be rather dense.)  As much as I’d like to model my own code from the actual one, I find it a bit too difficult to apply simply to dancing.  With slight regrets, so begins the dancer’s code…

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1) Cleanliness is very much next to godliness

Gallant gentleman and fair maidens, dancing will put you two literally face to face.  As such, you both must make yourself physically tolerable.  Deodorant is a must.  Your smell is not as evident to as it is to the people around you.  Also, keep your breath fresh.  Brush your teeth before you go, or take some mints along.  Keeping oneself clean is one of the biggest factors in enjoying a dance.

2) Fair Maiden, do not be a loose woman

Before I get impaled by whatever objects you can throw at me, let me explain the original definition.  In those times, girls normally wore their hair loose and free.  However, when she came to be of appropriate age for marriage, she would always have to wear her hair up in some fashion, probably in a bun.  Disobedient girls that kept their hair down were considered promiscuous, and were called “loose women”.  That being said, the fair maiden must be aware of her hair when dancing.  Nothing is more unpleasant than being whipped in the face with a very long ponytail.  So, if your hair is considerably long for a ponytail, put it up in a bun.  Just do whatever you can to get it out-of-the-way.  I personally wear my hair in a short ponytail with a hair clip, but I’ll have to eventually buy one of those huge scrunchies to get my hair into a bun because it won’t work any other way.

3) Gallant Gentleman, be aware of thy strength

Each fair maiden you dance with, dear gentleman, is different.  Each will respond differently to your lead.  Some will be quite easy, while you may have to use a bit more physical force with others.  Either way, respond accordingly to her feedback.  If she says your lead is hurting her in any way, stop.  Gallant gentleman, there is nothing more pleasurable than dancing with you where I can feel the strength of your lead, but the gentleness of your discretion.

4) Dress for the occasion

This one is easily explained.  There is a painfully obvious difference between a regular social and say, a ball.  Use your intuition.  If you’re still unsure, ask your teacher or someone else who knows.

5) Be thankful

It is in all politeness to thank your partner after the dance concludes.  Yes, even if it was the most painful two to three minutes of the night, thank him or her anyway.  Oh yes, and gentleman, if you’ve brought a lady with you, whether a friend or significant other, please be so kind as to walk with her off the floor.

6) Try not to reject a dance

If you must, do it politely, and for the love of all things pure and holy, do not accept and start dancing with another partner right away.  There are some situations that are a bit tricky.  Let’s say you have a friend that your really only see when dancing, and you guys don’t see each other very often aside from that.  If you dance with him after previously rejecting a dance, let’s say he shows up soon after your decline, and you dance with him, there is some slight justification there.  However, don’t be surprised if your previous potential partner is offended.  Try your best not to make a habit out of declining dances.

7) Have fun!

It is very unfortunate to admit that I have run into some stick-in-the-mud people when I dance socially.  They either take themselves way too seriously for the occasion, or may be so bold as to correct your dancing.  Should you be stuck for a dance with one of these people, grin and bear it.  If they fancy themselves a coach, blatantly ignore them or tell them firmly to stop.  If things get worse, you have every right to break hold and leave the floor.

Worst case scenario aside, dance is a temporary oasis from the grindstone of daily life.  Make the most of it.  Be crazy (in a sober way, of course)!  Laugh.  Love.  To have fun with all of yourself is the primary goal of dancing.

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So ends the dancer’s code.  May your heart and spirit be light, and may you always dance!

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