Jan Lachenmeyer’s Zouk Course in Berlin

Notes from a recent Zouk class. I have to say, Jan is the best dance teacher I’ve ever had. It is immediately apparent how taking his class will help me in every other dance out there. He tries to get you into a certain mindset. As a mindset-designer and mindset-switcher myself, I knew this guy knew his shit. And he even heads a startup company. How does he have the time? Particularly, how did he have the time to think this deep about life and dance while doing all that, before reaching 40?

Guess I gotta ask him next time.

The Mindset you should have when approaching dance
Start by hugging someone, as if they were an old friend you hadn’t seen for a long time. Your breaths synchronize. Your thoughts (hopefully) synchronize. And thus, your movements synchronize.
It is not “I have to show her what I cool moves I can do!”. It is not “that’s not right, I’m supposed to do this” or “you’re supposed to do that”. It is also not “I have to surprise her with moves she’s never heard of”.
Instead, it is like a conversation. I do this – how will you answer? There is no right or wrong answer. It is simply how the conversation flows, and you take it from there.

Four degrees of Touch
Police Arrest
You probably don’t want to be Police Arrest level of strong with your leading. But should you be Firm, Light, or Airy, or whatever? What’s best? What makes a particular degree of touch best anyway? How much the follower likes it? What produces the move that you wanted?
Each level of touch has its uses. Perhaps when you want something to be really on time, or if you’re dancing with a newbie, then you want to have a firm touch. Experienced followers prefer a light touch. Airy might be nice in slow songs. It depends on what you want to make the follower feel, what kind of experience do you want to give to the follower.

Four ways to think of moves
Movement forms
There seem to be people who think in terms of steps/figures in salsa. The lead learns a step, the follower learns a step, they put it together, and it works like gears meshing together. But there are so many possible moves. It’s impossible to learn them all.
Movement forms seems to be the moment when you realize – ah, it’s a spin but with this added twist. It’s this basic move, or a basic move done in a different way.
Biomechanics is when you start to play directly with the body, and see how pushing on one part of your partner’s body can communicate something.
Biotensegrity is when you start thinking about your partner’s body as a structure of muscles acting upon the bones, and then you interact with that. Not sure how that works.
Each way of thinking works best when you’re dancing with a partner who thinks the same way. The biomechanics way needs the follower to be tuned in, to have tension in her body, to hold her body a certain way so that what you are doing with her hand can reach her neck/shoulder line. Similarly, if I’m dancing with a partner who thinks in turns of steps, and I do some cool new move, she will always say “what? I don’t know that move” and then it’ll fail.

Chungking Express (1994) Review

I watched Chungking Express.

I’m in Germany, but the fundamentals of life are such they cannot be removed.

I see myself in the protagonists, and I see my ex in it too.

It seems like there is so much more to say, but there isn’t really.
Everybody’s experienced it before. Everybody already knows why things play out the way they do.

All we can do is steep in our implicit mutual understanding.

Ebert thinks it isn’t about the story, it’s about Wong Kar Wai playing Jean Luc Godard. Yes, it has a French plot, which is to say it goes nowhere. But to say that this movie is mainly a style exercise, with the plot just being there to fill things out, is ridiculous.

Everybody wants to tell their own story. We just want to express it in a cool way.

Why I Can’t Take Feminists Seriously

As I went jogging I happened upon the local art school. I was always curious what sort of art they taught in Berlin, so I went in and took a look.

Stay away from me! You pervert! You predator! You dangerous thing you!
Undocumented sex workers won’t get protected by the police; 8% of women report to the police, only 3% acknowledged: the police support sexual violence!
You should be ashamed of yourself! You’re too close!
My goodness, I’m such a Predator.

As a guy who used to be terrfied of women I was attracted to, I find this ridiculous. I used to “respect their boundaries” a lot. Let me tell you how that worked out: NOTHING HAPPENED.

In fact, the girls I liked never even noticed me, precisely because I didn’t do jack shit.

I never wanted to be the one to make the first move. But I had to. Because women wouldn’t do it for me.

And these women, who obviously don’t know what it’s like to actually find a partner, are trying to shame men.

Are they going to make the first move then?


Are they willing to risk getting rejected or embarrassed?


They don’t even know what it’s like to put yourself out there and get waved away like a fly, because society dictates that men should make the first move. They just gather around reciting rape stats.

Why are only 3% of rape cases acknowledged? Maybe it’s because today’s women love making false rape claims?

Sure, now and then there’s a guy who doesn’t know what to do with his sex drive. Not everybody can be an expert. That’s when women should be graceful.

Don’t know what that means? It means deflect, don’t punch back. Reject immediately, yet kindly and with compassion.

For men are supposed to be strong, thus women should be loving and gracious. How else is one supposed to become the amazing Mr. Right that swoops her off her feet? Mr. Rights don’t grow on trees.

This was the only one I agreed with
This was the only one I agreed with

It seems school was out, but as I walked around I saw two women conversing under a tree. As I walked closer to them, I saw the way they looked at me, how they were pushing me away with their eyes.

You could tell from their skin that these women had been marinating in smoky bars for far too long, yet if you asked them their age they might not even have hit 40.

I have no idea how women of such spiritual and physical beauty could possibly get laid.

Perhaps male feminist supporters line up meekly, waiting to be admitted into the privileged realm of their sourpussies.

Perhaps most of them converted into lesbianism.

All I know is, there were no signs of any males at that art school. Guess they like it that way.

The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, Part 2

Rule #3 – Don’t Stare at Men or Talk Too Much

Looking at someone first is a dead giveaway of interest. Let him look at you! If he doesn’t notice you first, he’s probably not interested…. It is never necessary to make eye contact. What about letting men know you’re receptive? We suggest simply smiling at the room (or the universe, if you will), and looking relaxed and approachable. That’s how to acknowledge a man’s attention, not by staring at him.

I got into reading dating advice for women books because I thought they would be a good laugh. This however just simply isn’t funny anymore. It’s just plain wrong, how many attractive girls who were actually attracted to me have I nexted because they applied this horrible, crippling rule?

FYI this is what guys are being told:

How to Tell If a Girl Is Attracted to You
# She may smile, or look away embarrassed when holding eye contact.

On the first date, avoid staring romantically into his eyes. Otherwise, he will know that you’re planning the honeymoon. Instead, look down at the table or your food, or simply survey the crowd at the restaurant. It’s best to seem generally interested in life, in others, in your surroundings, in the paintings on the wall, as opposed to this live prey.

Wait, I’m prey?

He will feel crowded and self conscious if you gaze at him too much. Restrain yourself. Let him spend the evening trying to get your attention.

A real man will not spend the evening trying to get your attention if you act like that. If he is worth his salt, he will determine the following:
1. You’re acting.
2. You’re uninterested in him.
3. This is a total waste of his time.
4. Trying to get your attention is just putting the pussy on a pedestal anyway. Better to hang out with others who appreciate my company more…

Needless to say, there will be moments on a date when neither of you has anything to say. Don’t feel the need to fill in these silences. You’ll end up saying something stupid and forced. Sometimes men just want to drive in silence without saying a word. Let them.

I actually agree with this part. I like to apply silences here and then, to judge our level of comfort with each other. If we’re both comfortable with the silence, it’s a good indication that we’re getting along pretty well. Unfortunately the authors totally fuck what could’ve been a good point up by finishing with this stinker:

Maybe he’s thinking about how he’s going to propose to you one day. Don’t ruin his concentration.

If anything, men should be the ones scrambling their brains to come up with clever lines, asking you a lot of questions, and wondering whether or not they’re keeping you interested. Besides, most men find chatty women annoying.

Again, why the hell should I have to do all the work? That’s so sexist. Besides, I appreciate a chatty girl. It shows she’s got spunk, she’s got something to talk about, and she’s willing to open up at least a small part of herself to me, i.e. I’m not wasting my time with her/she’s interested in me. I don’t want to talk to a wall, nor a doll.

On the date itself, be quiet and reserved. He’ll wonder what you’re thinking, if you like him, and if he’s making a good impression. He’ll think you’re interesting and mysterious, unlike many of the women he’s dated. Don’t you want him to think about you like that?

This is SO wrong. The worst thing about this is that the date will no longer be fun. It’s just me chattering along like some loser who’s so excited he finally got his first date he can’t stop gushing about everything. This rule is so depressing. I want to read Marie Forleo again.

Rule #4 – Don’t Meet Him Halfway or Go Dutch on a Date
With this rule, the transformation into a lifeless, wooden doll with no thoughts of her own, no personality and no wants at all is complete. She exists purely to be asked out, to consume, to look pretty, to attract men and do absolutely nothing other than siphon money out of their wallets.

The Rule is that men are supposed to rearrange their schedules around you, pursue you, take cabs and trains to see you.

Look, if the girl doesn’t invest effort into seeing me, why should I make any effort to begin with? The rule goes on to tell the story of Jane, a “truly nice person”, and how she lost Steve by “making it too easy for him”. Somehow I really doubt that was the reason. Somehow I doubt the story happened at all.

We know one man who became even more enamoured of a girl on their second date because she didn’t complain one word when he couldn’t remember where he parked at a football game. For the whole hour during which they pounded the pavement looking for his car, he kept thinking, “What a great girl!”

Well yeah, that would be a great girl. That’s the only thing you should take away from this Rule though.

The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, Part 1

The Rules

Let’s get this off the bat: I will actively discourage every female in the world (except those I really hate, of which there are next to none) from reading The Rules. My new rule is that if I find a female with a copy of this book, either physical or electronic, I will immediately distance myself from her.

The biggest problem is it encourages girls to be aloof. I’m a guy, and I’ve tried being aloof. It doesn’t work. Being aloof makes you the loneliest person in the world. If it doesn’t work for a guy, who’s the one doing the chasing, how can it possibly work for a girl? If a girl is supposed to keep her distance from the guy she’s interested in, how is she supposed to behave to the guys she’s NOT interested in? Such questions are never addressed by the book, even though it repeatedly stresses that men are supposed to do the chasing, and women are supposed to sit back and act passive.

OK let’s get with Rule #1 – Be a “creature unlike any other”

On a date, you never show that getting married is foremost on your mind

That’s because if getting married is the foremost thing on your mind, you’re doing it wrong. Do you know why the M word scares men away? Not because we’re afraid of being committed to a woman we love (does that even make sense!?). Because such a woman is desperate. Either she’s desperate for sex (which means she’s also a prude that doesn’t believe in sex before marriage), or she’s desperate for somebody to “complete her life” (the only explanation for which being “she’s broken”) or she’s desperate for kids… puuuuuke.

Compare this with PUA advice for men. Desperate women want marriage… desperate men want pussy. On both genders, desperation kills attraction. But I have never heard of a PUA book going “We know all you want is her pussy, but don’t show it on your mind”. Yet this Rules book goes on and on about marriage, like it’s all a woman wants from a man.

Most women hang around men all night waiting to be asked to dance. But you do The Rules. If he wants to be with you or get your phone number, he’ll search the crowded room until he finds you. You don’t offer him your pen or business card. You dono’t make it easy for him. Don’t even carry them with you or you may be tempted to “help him out.” The reason is that he has to do all the work. As he scrambles around begging the coat-check girl for a pen, you stand by quietly. You think to yourself, “The Rules have begun!”

If I ask a girl for her number and she asks this, you can be pretty sure I’ll be asking the coat-check girl for her number instead. The incredibly obvious reason being you aren’t interested. I mean, it makes sense, right? I go out on a limb and ask you for your number, and all you can do is stand and watch sadistically as I somehow scramble to “do all the work” for you? PUAs will condemn any chump acting like this with good reason – it degrades the man, and he’s obviously wasting his time on a girl who isn’t interested anyway. In fact, such females are called “bitches”.

It’s that simple. You do The Rules and trust that one day a prince will notice that you’re different from all other women he’s known, and ask for your hand!

What prince would put himself in such a humiliating position?

Rule #2 – Don’t Talk to a Man First (and Don’t Ask Him to Dance)

We know what you’re thinking. We know how extreme such a rule must sound, not to mention snobbish, silly, and painful; but taken in the context of The Rules, it makes perfect sense. After all, the premise of The Rules is that we never make anything happen, that we trust in the natural order of things – namely, that man pursues woman.
By talking to a man first, we interfere with whatever was supposed to happen or not happen, perhaps causing a conversation or a date to occur that was never meant to be and inevitably getting hurt in the process. Eventually, he’ll talk to the girl he really wants and drop you.
…perhaps a therapist would say so, but we believe that most men are not shy, just not really, really interested if they don’t approach you…

The forums at Sosuave.com are full of men trying to get over their fear of talking to women. Full of them. As such, this belief is completely wrong.

Some of the smartest women try to make things happen under the guise of business. They think they are too educated or talented to be passive, play games, or do The Rules. They feel their diplomas and paychecks entitle them to do more in life than wait for the phone to ring. These women, we assure you, always end up heartbroken when their forwardness is rebuffed. But why shouldn’t it be? Men know what they want. No one has to ask them to lunch.

Uh, wow. Where do we start? With the implication that women aren’t entitled to do more in life than wait for the phone to ring? Or perhaps the not so subtle undercurrent of, shall we say, jealousy or bitterness?

By not accepting the concept that the man must pursue the woman, women put themselves in jeopardy of being rejected or ignored…

That’s ridiculous. So we as men are supposed to be the only ones shouldering rejection? I never really pointed it out before but the last few quotes always seem to be about how not to get your heart broken by a man again. Seriously, if you don’t want heartbreak why are you even in the market?

This one in particular is a gem:

Our dentist friend Pam initiated a friendship with Robert when they met in dental school several years ago by asking him out to lunch. She spoke to him first. Although they later became lovers and even lived together, he never seemed really “in love” with her and her insecurity about the relationship never went away. Why would it? She spoke to him first. He recently broke up with her over something trivial. The truth is he never loved her. Had Pam followed The Rules…

The whole thing reeks of a made up story, made specifically to cater to this particular rule. There is nothing in the story that provides a hard link between the breakup and her speaking to him first. What we have here is pure conjecture, masked by the fact that “She spoke to him first” was repeated twice and emphasized in italics. And how is this relationship a failure? Because it didn’t finish with marriage and “they lived happily ever after”?

We know what you’re thinking: what am I supposed to do all night if no one asks me to dance? Unfortunately, the answer is to go to the bathroom five times if you have to, reapply your lipstick, powder your nose, order more water from the bar, think ahppy thoughts, walk around the room in circles until someone notices you, make phone cals from the lobby to your married friends for encouragement… in short, anything but ask a man to dance. Dances are not necessarily fun for us. They may be fun for other women who just want to go out and have a good time. But you’re looking for love and marriage so you can’t always do what you feel like. You have to do The Rules!

That’s a psycho if I’ve ever read about one. Thank lord German girls don’t behave in this reproachful manner. The paragraph even sounds like something a cult member would say.

If this sounds boring, remember the alternative is worse. Our good friend Sally got so resentful of having to dance with all the “losers” at a particular party that she finally decided to defy The Rules she knew only too well and asked the best looking man in the room to dance. Not only was he flattered, but they danced for hours and he asked her out for the next three nights. “Maybe there are exceptions to The Rules,” she thought triumphantly. She found out otherwise, of course. It seems Mr. Right was in town for just a few days on business and had a girlfriend on the West Coast. No wonder he hadn’t asked anyone to dance that night. He probably just went to the party to have fun, not to find his future wife.


If you find all of this much too hard to do, then don’t go to the dance. Stay home, do situps, watch Seinfeld, and reread The Rules. It’s better to stay home and read The Rules than go out and break them.

We are finally done with this horrible Rule. Typing all my reactions out has certainly prevented a second nauseating headache that manifested during my first read-through of this book…

The Rules by Ellen Fein and Somebody Else (preview) according to a guy

The first thing that came to my mind when I read the title was this quotation:

Rules were made to be broken

And I can tell you there are a lot of rules in this book that need to be plain ignored, because they make the game harder than it needs to be. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy, let’s keep the acting to a minimal and save a few flower petals shall we?

A Rules girl typically comes home to many messages on her answering machine from men trying to fill up her weekends.

Sorry, no. The Rules will not get any normal girl in the above situation. The reason being when a normal girl acts aloof, like the Rules say to do, she won’t get any attention. A bombshell, a 10/10, a physically attractive girl with absolutely no brains, will find herself in this position, in spite of the Rules. A bombshell with brains… now we’re really talking here. A few guys may be intimidated, so she might get less messages total but you can be sure that it’s high quality guys who will be willing to call a bombshell with brains – again, in spite of the Rules.

While it’s also true that you can reject him, the fact is that it’s the man who notices you, asks you out, and ultimately proposes marriage. He runs the show.

This is a very weird line that got me thinking, because a lot of materials aimed at guys emphasize that women are the ones with the power. I mean, we ask them out, it’s their call to say yes or no, and we’re mostly more horny than women. I think the real explanation here is that nobody’s really in control… and it’s just a big fat game.

EDIT: reading to the end made me quite nauseated. I can’t put my finger on it just yet.
EDIT2: I just read a review on Amazon that covers a lot of points I want to make on the book:

1.0 out of 5 stars Radon for the Soul, July 11, 2002
This review is from: The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right (Mass Market Paperback)
“The Rules” keeps returning like a bad hot dog. I’m embarrassed to admit that, against my judgment and ethics, I can’t quite seem to dismiss it altogether. It’s like watching somebody pick their nose at a stoplight — you know you *should* ignore it — you *want* to ignore it — but somehow, you can’t help yourself.

“The Rules”, for those fortunate enough to have avoided the book until now, is an instruction manual telling how women can/should trick alpha males into marriage through withdrawal and manipulation.

Besides the book’s cruel, self-esteem-undermining premise — that the reader is worthless without a man; and moreover, that it requires complete falsification of her looks, mind, personality, and spirit to make her even marginally acceptable…

Besides the paradoxical hollowness of “success” with a false self — you lose even if you “win”, because it’s not *you* who succeeds, it’s the fa├žade…

Besides the likelihood that persistent coldness, while screening out the uninterested, would also screen *in* the neurotic Don Juan who wants whatever he doesn’t have until the instant he gets it, or even outright stalkers and psychos…

Besides how simplistic, morally corrupt, and insulting to *both* genders the book is…

Besides how abominably, sub-literately written it is…

Why does this book provoke such extreme reactions in everyone with a shred of intelligence, integrity, and/or self-esteem? Why is it like a stone in your shoe — irritating as all get-out, yet impossible to ignore — rather than simply irritating as all get-out?

Is it the obnoxious, infomercial scamminess and inflated promises?

— “Sound too good to be true? We were skeptical at first, too.”

— “Follow The Rules, and he will not just marry you, but feel crazy about you, forever!”

— “There are many books and theories on this subject. All make wonderful promises, but The Rules actually produce results.”
(Oh, the irony!)

Is it the Godawful, degrading advice?

— “Be feminine.”
— “Always strive to look feminine.”
(Can you imagine anyone advising men, “always strive to look masculine”?)

— “Don’t leave the house without makeup.”

— “Wear sheer black pantyhose and hike up your skirt.”

Is it the teeth-grinding rage at men?

— “We mistakenly tried to be ‘friends’ with men…”

— “You don’t make it easy for him… As he SCRAMBLES around BEGGING the coat-check girl for a pen, you stand by quietly.”
(That one has not-very-well-repressed sadism rising off the page like steam, doesn’t it? “You want hard to get, you S.O.B.? I’ll give you hard to get!”)

Is it the childish spite toward women who don’t “know their place”?

— “They think they are too educated or talented to be passive, play games…”

— “They feel their diplomas and paychecks entitle them to do more in life than wait for the phone to ring.”

— “These women always end up heartbroken.”

Is it the cheap scare tactics?

— “It’s not fun to break The Rules. You could easily end up alone.”

— “By not accepting that the man must pursue the woman, women put themselves in jeopardy of being rejected or ignored.”

Granted, you’re not going to attract every man you ever say Hello to. But their tales — always ending in the implication (often, the overt statement) that rejection is *punishment for refusal to comply*, rather than chemistry or random chance — are like the 50s-style “guide to dating” books where the making-out teenage couple gets hit by a speeding bus.

Is it the gaping holes in logic?

Every anecdote supporting the formula is dangled before the reader like bait, but anything questioning/undermining it is dismissed: “the only guys who will be turned off by this are the guys who weren’t really interested in the first place”. Why wouldn’t that be equally true of *ignoring* the rules? Maybe I should write a job-hunting manual — “Punch Your Interviewer in the Nose: The Two-Fisted Method for Capturing Your Dream Job” — and claim, “The only time this won’t work is with jobs you were never meant to get in the first place”.

Is it the unintentional howlers?

— “What am I supposed to do all night if no one asks me to dance? Go to the bathroom five times if you have to, reapply your lipstick… walk around the room in circles until somebody notices you…”
(Like they could miss the crazy woman wearing more lipstick than Courtney Love, walking around in circles and going to the bathroom every five minutes?)

I think the book lingers like nuclear waste because it’s so *weird*. While it’s plausible to suggest that one way to deal with an imbalance of power is by calculated subterfuge, the authors aren’t that straightforward. Instead, we get a lot of defensive, self-justifying assertions that “The Rules” are not, repeat NOT, conniving or vicious or bitterly cynical, that men WANT to be manipulated, that men have a “biological need” to pursue (why are people still using junk science to justify the worst aspects of human behavior?).

They also urge the reader not to tell anybody — friends, families, therapists — about the book, as though it were a cult. This — there’s no other word for it but paranoia — makes it clear that the authors know full well that their ideas can’t withstand examination/discussion. If your positions are indefensible, why hold them?

As a result of the doublespeak, mean-spiritedness, and desperation pervading every syllable, the book has a creepy, nightmarish, *toxic* vibe, like reading a crazy person’s diary. It’s hard to put out of your mind even when you want to.

Relationships can be good, bad, or in-between, but reducing human interaction to a grim quest for prey won’t improve matters. The authors tell the reader over and over that: 1) “The Rules” aren’t REALLY manipulation, and 2) All right, they ARE really manipulation, but they work! It’s too bad that they stopped short of 3) OK, they DON’T really work… but we ARE making a ton of money.