First impressions are all well and good, but it's the ending, I think, that can really make or break a dance. Or make it, anyway. If three or four minutes of my life have a so-so ending, it's no big deal. But if we manage a perfect wrap-up, that's something I'll be taking home with me.
As for what makes a good ending, I'll say that the flashy stuff is fine, and indeed required sometimes if we assume you're going to actually be musical about your dancing (and I do assume). But I'm not so good at flashy. My favorites tend to be the gentler, more romantic endings. It can be something very simple, like the ritard at the end of Congress of Vienna, which fits beautifully with three pivots and a slight tango close. If you have a good connection with your partner, then this is where you can really savor it for a few finals seconds before it's all over. The picture here is a beautiful example, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing to "Night and Day" in The Gay Divorcee. The dance ends with a small dip, two pivots, and then setting her gently down on the couch or whatever that is there, leaving her speechless. That's one of my favorite bits in all their dances. (Though I could do without Fred dusting his hands off afterwards and offering her a cigarette. Spoils the moment a bit.) Another nice one is "Cheek to Cheek," from Top Hat, where they both spin gently down to lean against the wall, gazing into each other's eyes.
And then, of course, it's also fun to just do something random and different once in a while. I was dancing with Lilli Ann, the DJ, at the last Friday Night Waltz, and I knew she had to be back at her computer as soon as the song ended, to queue up the next one. I managed to time the ending just right to deposit her hand on her keyboard with the last note. I was rather amused with myself for that. And at one of the swing dances in Dublin, I interrupted a conversation with Danielle to dance with her. For the ending I managed to steer us right back into a couple of the chairs that lined the dance floor, so we could pick up talking where we left off. A little awkward since the chairs were slightly high (more like barstools), but it more or less worked.
Now, two questions for any of you dancers out there who want to comment: (1) What are your favorite dance endings? and (2) What's the best thing to do when you're stuck in a song that ends with a fade-out?