In reality there are so many types of contra swings, almost as many as the types of relationships we experience in our social world. Each contra swing, and relationship, can be perfect unto itself. The secret to achieving this realizing the appropriateness of the situation. I adapt my contra swing style to a host of factors. These include the experience level of my partner and my closeness to the person. The factors of experience and closeness offer a multitude of situations that I have to adapt my swing to, and they are as applicable in the social relationship world as they are to the contra swing.
Experience is a funny thing when it comes to contra. People come to contra with prior dance experience or no experience. Some partners are naturally nimble on their feet while others push themselves to learn. The resulting dance abilities can give me pleasure, pain, or somewhere in between. My poor aching back aside, I have a contract with my partner to give them the best possible swing that I can, with “best” being driven by their abilities. I may have to slow it WAY down for a beginning dancer. I may have to make it simple, with no fancy flourishes, but that does not prevent a perfect swing from occurring. For others I turn on the flourishes, and remember that I have real responsibility to keep them safe and on time. In the end, if they smile, and I smile because I am not in pain, than a perfect swing can be achieved.
Closeness to my dance partner is a BIG factor in the type of swing I use, and from that, how perfect the swing is for the moment. I've danced with everyone from my significant other to somebody who is dancing contra for the first time. I don't swing the same with everyone, and for good reason! There is potential for the perfect swing in the entire closeness continuum, and the key to finding the perfection is honoring myself and them. I dance real close with my significant other, pretty darn close with friends that I know well, and a respectful distance from people I don't know well. This range is tweaked to accommodate the preferences of my partners. I may have a friend that loves the arm's length speed swing. I'm good with that. A beginner may move in close during a swing. I adjust as much as I can, and then roll with the swing. All of the above can be perfect.
Before I close I want to touch on where things go wrong, and swings are very much not perfect. The clues are in topics of experience and closeness. Things go imperfect when moves are used that are inappropriate to a partner's experience level. The partner becomes flustered and disturbed when they are tossed about, feeling like they are completely out of control. Swings that favor a touch of familiarity, meaning intimacy, are inappropriate when sprung on a person who is not ready for that level of swing commitment! Neither unwanted complexity nor intimacy are typically done out of malice, but adopting a “one size fits all” swing is the sure path to move from perfect swing to imperfect swing.
Looping back to where I start, I was struck by the fact that a replacement of “swing” with “relationship” would turn my list of perfect swing qualities into a manual on relationships. Further, in the paragraphs above, if you change the word “dancing” to “relating”, and “swing” to “encounter”, you get a discourse on relating. These are words of wisdom that I use in both my dancing and my relationships. I belove all my dance partners and all the wonderful people I meet through life. There are SO many different perfect swings and SO many different perfect relationships. I am gifted with many.