I finally went dancing last Friday, at a swing/salsa club called Memories. Clara (=Maelana) came with me, which was probably for the best since that way I had a few more decent dances and I had someone to be uncomfortable with. It wasn't that Memories was an unwelcoming place, or that it was populated with unfriendly people (though it was populated with very few people). The first problem was that most of the people there weren't very good. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but it became a problem when coupled with the fact that the way people danced swing (swung?) out there was really outlandish.
For one thing, they were doing Hollywood. Fair enough; Savoy vs. Hollywood is a nonissue so far as I'm concerned. But the way they danced Hollywood was with a lot of footwork and very little rotation - I mean, like, people would spend whole blocks of music facing one another doing footwork and maybe some underarm turns or stuff like that, like they were doing six-count lindy in eight. When they did rotate it wasn't counterbalanced; they pulled in to each other and kind of spun on the balls of their feet.
Now, I don't mean to sound like a dance snob - there's nothing wrong with swinging that way. But like I said, most of the people there weren't very good (by which I mean that a lot of them were flashy but their lead/follow skills were pretty lousy, you could tell just by watching the couples). The trouble was therefore that I didn't know enough to match my partners' styles, and only a few of them could follow me with any sort of ease - and of course, to be fair, it's neither fun nor fair if your lead keeps throwing stuff at you that you've never seen. So the whole situation was rather unfortunate. I danced with one girl (who was actually a fairly good follow) and went into a four-bar liquid that made her dizzy as a first-time waltzer. Fortunately she told me, so I backed off into six-count for a while ... but when I went back into a regular swing-out she got dizzy again. And again, it was fortunate that she told me - but I don't know how to swing in eight-count without rotating. Very surreal.