The Country-Western Dancer Classification System

In which I go completely frit and inflict yet ANOTHER freakin' classification system on the World

Boris Lermontov: Why do you want to dance?
Victoria Page: Why do you want to live?
Boris Lermontov: Well I don't know exactly why, er, but I must.
Victoria Page: That's my answer too.

-From the movie The Red Shoes, 1948

This is just a draft, mind you, but here goes.

I love CW dancing. Lots of fun. There's only one problem. If you're stranger, it's not easy to find a dance partner. If you're a regular, people probably have preconceived notions about which dances you're able to do and which dances you like to do. And they're probably wrong.

This all started at the San Jose Gay Rodeo in June, 2000. I stood around for three hours, dancing occasionally with the only person I knew (who likewise knew nobody else) when I had a brilliant idea. Why not have designated (not to mention labeled) sections in which leads and follows without partners can stand, so that people wouldn't have to guess whether or not someone is interested in dancing? Then the folks at Sundance Saloon made these adorable stickers for people to wear at their Valentine's Day event which said things like "I Lead" or "I'm Shy" or "I Like to Spin". And then I was home from work with a high fever and nothing to do, and here we are!

How it Works

The Classification System is similar to Natural Bears Classification System (the Bear Code) and the Geek Code. Essentially, it is a means of distilling all of the relevant data involved in the question of "If I ask this person to dance, will they a) shoot me down, b) push me/be pushed around the floor like we're a couple of sixth graders during the "Social Dance" section of Gym Class or c) join me for three and half minutes of sheer terpsichorean bliss?" into an easy-to-decode string of symbols.

Essentially, you go down the list, and for every classifier, choose the rating which describes you best. All of the ratings are then expressed (in order) in a single line of characters. Once you have established your CW Dance Code (patent pending), you can have it embroidered on all of your western shirts for the world to see. Or maybe just print it on a name tag.

The Basics

D - Dance experience. How "good" you are. Be honest.

D0 "Oh, this is called a dance floor, you say? Fascinating."
D1 Can occasionally be heard muttering, "Left, right, left" under breath
D2 Been around the floor a couple times
D3 Go ahead and try to teach me something new
D4 Nureyev in Noconas

L - Leading ability

L-- Simply can't lead. How the hell do people dance forwards?
L- Leading is not my strong suit. You want me to make decisions while dancing? Please!
L I'll lead, if that's what you want.
L+ I'm a decent lead. It'll be fun.
L++ I lead like a God. You dare to back-lead me, I'll bitch-slap you right into the coat check.

F - Following ability

F-- I don't respond well to being told where I'm supposed to go.
F- Not a docile follow. If you aren't leading well enough, I'll take over. And I can't see where we're going.
F I'll follow, if that's what you want.
F+ I'm a good follow. Aim me where you please.
F++ I am simply an extension of your will. Fling me around the floor like in that "Mannequin" song on Fame.

S - Speed. How fast do you like to dance?

S-- Sloooooooooow. I'm not looking to break a sweat or bring about an MI, here.
S- Let's keep a nice gentle speed.
S Moderate speed
S+ Step lively, there
S++ 180 bpm or I'm going home
S* Forget speed. Dance with me!

V - Versatility. Can you handle a partner who does non-standard stuff (extra steps, multiple exchange patterns, etc.)

V-- Basic only. Turn me, I fall down.
V- Can do some turns and spins. Give me a moment or two to regain my footing
V Probably can do most standard variations
V+ Whatever it is, let's give it a shot.
V++ "Double spiral overhand pass? Sure!"


O - Outgoingness

O-- Horribly shy. Can't bring self to smile at anyone, let alone say "Hi" or ask them to dance.
O- Somewhat reserved. Will ask you to dance...eventually.
O Moderately outgoing. Just a little encouragement is all that's needed.
O+ Friendly. Just come near me.
O++ We'll most likely be out on the dance floor before you're able to put your drink down.
O ( ) Rating outside parentheses refers to complete strangers.
Rating inside parentheses refers to those I have met before or who introduce themselves.

LD - Line Dances (attitude toward)

LD-- Pfft. Ugly-girl dance. Back off, Macarena-boy!
LD- Can't see the appeal (or can't seem to learn the damn things).
LD They're OK. I Tush Push.
LD+ I like 'em! We could probably use a few more in an evening.
LD++ YAY! Line dance! YAY!

Specific Dances

The Ratings are:

0 I don't know/can't do this dance (or at least I won't do it in public).
-- I simply don't like this dance. The steps are impossible, and I look like Elaine on Seinfeld when I do this dance.
- I'll dance it with you, but I'm not very good and all things considered, I'd rather have another beer.
  This dance is OK. I'm not gonna marry it, if that's what you're asking.
+ I like this dance. Happy dance. Happy, happy, fun dance.
++ If you don't ask me out on the floor for this, I will kill you.

And the Dances are:

CH Cha-Cha
EC East Coast Swing
OS One Step
P Polka
TS Two Step
Sha Shadow
Shu Shuffle
Wa Waltz
WC West Coast Swing

For each dance, a rating is chosen. It's generally assumed that one's relative preference for leading and/or following is similar to the ratings given in the L and F classifiers. If there is a significant difference, the different factor can be explicitly stated in parentheses after the base rating. For example, an L-- F+ who learned to do West Coast Swing as a leader (and can't follow it to save his life) would write WC--(l+) or WC+(f--).


Me: D2 L F++ S* V O- LD++ EC OS+ P0 TS++ Sha Shu Wa+ WC+

Translation: I have moderate dance experience; I lead, but I'd much, much rather be following. Any speed dance is fine for me. I can keep up with most dance variations. I'm not very outgoing, so you'd better say hi first, or we'll be here all night. I LOVE to line dance. I can't polka, but I like most other couples dance, particularly Two-stepping.

Now get out on the floor and DANCE!

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