Hands up or down?

Lillian Cunningham

Message 9466 · 31 Oct 1997 07:36:02 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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Here's my handful on the matter of hands up or down. I've read with
interest all the comments about situations in which it is polite to offer
hands up or to accept with hands down. Of course we want to be polite.
I'm really curious about whether those of you who have all these
situational examples actually think out the situation as you give hands or
is it something you've codified into your trained instincts? Or are these
explanations arising after the fact to explain what just sort-of happens
on the dance floor? I hear the argument that palms up helps with leading,
but several of you have questioned whether that bit of received wisdom is
really true. I question that too.

This is a hot button subject with me. I agree with Ron Macnaughton, who
asked the original question, that it would be much simpler to be
consistent. I was taught, practically from the time I started dancing,
always to give right hand palm up and left hand palm down. We learned to
remember by checking whether you can read your watch if you wear a watch
on the left wrist.(I did understand that this was our group's policy, not
an SCD standard.) Thus, to me, giving hands that way seems neither polite
nor impolite, and not a restrictive rule either. It is just convenient,
smooth and easy. It truly means no fumbling when everyone uses the same
system for all occasions, including advancing in groups of three. I like
the gender equalizing factor of this system, too.

In recent years the left down/ right up system of taking hands has
not been taught in our group, so fumbling has become frequent. I think our
dancing has lost some ease as a result, and it bothers me. In fact it
annoys me. As other responders have mentioned, I don't refuse to take
hands offered in some other way, but I don't like to have to think about
it or to fumble or to have to change hand positions depending on the
gender of the person next to me or where I am in a group of three or which
position in the set I'm in. We have lots of more interesting things to
think about during a dance than which polite handing response takes
precedence over another this time. A consistent handing system seems as
logical to me as polite turns. In fact I take back what I said before. It
seems MORE polite to offer hands in a way that everyone understands and
expects and is immediately ready to respond to.
Have any other of you folks danced in a group where left-palm-down
and right-palm-down system was a comfortable norm? Or even the reverse
system? Does anyone share my preference?
It beats me why we don't all do it that way. I know from
experience that consistent handing for all situations is an easy habit to
acquire (lots easier than a three-beat pas de basque) and friendly to use
(like a bow and curtsey).

Thanks for the soapbox. I'll step off it now.

Lillian Cunningham
Honolulu, Hawaii
xxxxxxxx@xxxxxx.xxx.

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