Perception Dancer worth it?

Hello, I am looking for some insight on a Perception Dancer. I am considering buying one from craigslist but can not find any reviews on any websites so I am hoping someone can give me some guidance. I am looking for a kayak for slow rivers and lakes. Just wondering if the Dancer is worth it. Thanks.

How much and how big a lake?

– Last Updated: Feb-13-08 8:03 AM EST –

The Dancer is an older boat that'll paddle along the shore of a lake or up a creek very nicely. It isn't a boat that will carry much stuff well so it's not a good choice for things like overnight camping. It also is not well equipped for self-rescue on the water - more of a swim to shore type of self-rescue - so it isn't prime for doing lake stuff like crossing Lake Champlain on a windy day.

That said, it is a boat that a lot of people keep around for going up creeks or paddling around on a summer day because it is plastic and not fussy, and very easy to handle. We have an older Dagger boat from a not dissimilar era that I use when the local paddle group decides to do things like explore portions of the old Erie Canal and in some pool sessions. It's fast enough to at least stay with the slower group, and it's a lot easier to haul over the remnants of a beaver dam than the long boats.

One thing to be concerned about will be the age, and how brittle the plastic is. You probably want to check on how it's been stored.

The price should be quite cheap - what are they asking?

What Celia said
Plus, the Dancer is technically a WW boat. It will have all the handling characteristics of a WW boat such as being hard to keep it going straight. Chances are good that the plastic has deteriorated by now and I would not buy it without a physical inspection. Don’t pay more than $100.

They are asking $150 with a paddle and skirt. Obviously I will need to inspect the boat. Since it is classified as a WW boat will it not track well on a calm small lake?

With some learning, yes
I’ve paddled the Dancer in pool classes. A beginner in a WW boat tends to go around in circles a lot. With a good forward stroke, it can go straight.



– Last Updated: Feb-13-08 11:38 AM EST –

If you can paddle decently you can paddle a boat like the Dancer straight (or any boat for that matter). If you are beginning, you may not find that too easy to do. But among WW boats the Dancer-type boats are among the easier to learn to paddle straight. And I could as easily argue that it'll help your paddling.

Will a garden variety rec boat like even a Prodigy (aka Swifty in a prior life) track more easily than a boat that was designed with WW in mind? Yes, until it gets windy then you'll probably want something a little more substantial (and more expensive). Can you get on the water for $150 bucks with a Prodigy (or an Otter)? Maybe... worth a look I guess.

Personally, if the Dancer is in decent shape I think you'd get a lot more out of it than a totally basic rec boat like the Prodigy. Or maybe you want to up the ante on what you can spend and get into a bit more boat on the rec/touring side than the Prodigy, which may suit you best. The Dancer is a boat that you could mess around with to learn edging and even a roll - the boats like the Prodigy's aren't going to be so helpful there. But that's for you to decide.

Paddling straight

– Last Updated: Feb-13-08 2:00 PM EST –

You will likely find yourself going around in circles for a while, but you will develop a very steady and effecient paddle stroke as you learn to make the boat go straight.
edit to add.. The one in Santa Cruz has been there for a bit. Offer $75 with the paddle. You should be able to sell it for more on ebay when you are through with it.

I’ve found that many “old school” ww
kayaks don’t handle very well at all on wavy lakes. This might seem strange because these same boats do well in turbulent whitewater. And, I have never had problems getting any ww boat to track on a smooth lake. But get some wind-produced waves and some powerboat-produced reflection waves, and the marginal willingness of a whitewater boat (like a Dancer… I owned a Dancer XT) to track, and the boat becomes very, very difficult to manage.

It takes length, and sharpish ends, to progress successfully across ocean and lake waves. WW boats can be used for ocean surfing, but out beyond the surf waves, WW boats are really not suitable. Even WW downriver boats will be notably inferior to sea kayaks on wavy lakes or the ocean.

it won’t track at all

– Last Updated: Feb-13-08 11:15 AM EST –

It's possible to make a Dancer go straight, but it will not continue straight for very long once you stop paddling. It will skid out and do a 180 within a few seconds of your last paddle stroke.

You don't have a profile, but your name implies California. Is this the boat?

No not worth 150.00
really not worth anything by todays standards. If someone tried to give me one I wouldn’t except it. I have enough junk that I’m trying to get rid of.

The only thing it would be good for is indoor pool roll classes.

If it is your first boat
it is likely to be your last boat. You will find it a whole lot of work to paddle this thing straight for any distance. And even if you like a challenge, and work to get the correct stroke, etc., you still have a boat that is a lousy one for your intended purposes. You’ll be working twice as hard to go half the speed of other beginners in more suitable calm water boats. If you are interested in learning to roll, this might be a great boat to learn on. But it’s not good for much else.

I was just going to post…
…pretty much what puddlefish just said.

For a very determined beginner, this could be a boat that will ultimately make him/her a better paddler, but it is perhaps likelier to make him/her abandon the sport in frustration.

Add that to the “plastic has a lifespan” argument, limited stability, and don’t forget size…my first boat was an old style Eclipse (I think this was the predecessor to the Dancer) and I didn’t fit in it (I couldn’t even GET in it!)

Mostly slalom boat
The Dancer is used a lot by people who fool around in slalom races and want a cheap boat to do it in. It handles pretty well in whitewater and rolls well. It does enders quite well…

That said, there are LOTS better boats for the stated purpose… banging around on calm lakes. I would suggest waiting till a rec boat or day touring boat becomes available. This one is NOT that stable…

My final answer?

– Last Updated: Feb-13-08 2:28 PM EST –

I reread this thread - a couple of points.

I agree with the folks who indicate that this boat will be hard enough to make go straight that it could negatively impact your kayaking experience. That is particularly so if you plan to paddle with others. If paddling with a group, most of them are likely to have boats that were designed to make going forward a lot easier than a boat designed for moving water.

Or, if you will want to go for bigger lakes or longer distances down the road whether alone or with others, this boat ain't it.

The thing is, to accomplish some of this other stuff you will need to spend more money.

So - why did this ad strike your fancy to start with? Are you thinking about getting into kayaking and want a starter boat that you can use to do some touring and general exploration and gradually increase the scope of your paddling? Or do you really want just a beater with no particular performance characteristics to climb up gnarly creeks and poke along the shore of small lakes? And maybe to use to mess around in the pool in winter and learn to roll?

If the first, the Dancer could be more frustrating than even the $150 cost. If it is the latter, it might well be worth a lesser amount to you. (as long as you don't bet your rent on recouping that amount on a resale)

Wait until Georgi Kayaker makes his
pronouncement. That is the gold standard for advice given on internet paddling forums.

Chucks Advice is Best
Make sure you fit in the cockpit.

Offer $100 bucks and go have fun.

It’s a versatile but old design, as long as the plastic is not brittle it should be fine, as long as it was stored indoors.

You can learn to paddle it straight, and it’s a good boat to learn to roll and play in moving water.

I have a Dancer along with two other “old school” WW boats. At 5’ 11" I find the Dancer a very tight fit. These old boats have dropped to the $100-$200 range and are primarily used by WW people who want a little more speed – or for pool practice. It won’t be a good choice for leisurely lake paddling unless you want to learn to paddle a WW boat (which naturally want to turn).

Ah, A Classic!
How many of you Old School ww paddlers remember paddling with that cutting edge playboat of a Dancer, Corsica, Overflow, Sleek, Cruise Control, etc. Ah, the days of torpedoes.

It’s all been said enough. If the skirt & PFD are worthy you can probably resell it on the east coast to the KCCNY for $175 and keep the skirt/pfd.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

PS: I was of the upstart generation that started paddling with the next generation, Pirouette, playboat. Yeah, ain’t that a hoot by todays standards.

Actually, the Dancer is a lousy slalom
boat, its only positive attribute being decent speed. And at least at NOC, it has been a long time since I have seen anyone show up for a “citizen race” in a Dancer. The best plastic boats for slalom, besides the Perception Fox, were the Pirouette and possibly the Animas.

I had a Dancer XT, and it was an awful-handling boat, very much inferior at slalom moves to the Corsica I bought to replace it. And the Corsica was pretty bad too.

It’s too bad more people don’t get to try a modern slalom boat. They are actually pretty forgiving and easy to paddle on rivers like the Nantahala (though truly heavy water is a different matter), and their handling is a revelation.

The Dancer Ruled
It wasn’t that long ago the Dancer was THE boat. Look at the past winners of the Santa Cruz Surf Festival. Back in the 80’s the Dancer won several years straight.

Back when there was only a few WW boats, the Dancers made more first desents than any other boat. With so many choices now, no boat will ever touch that record.

But… I bought one for $100 and gave it to Chuck who gave it to some deserving young kid.

I would keep looking if I were you. There are plenty of choices for used boats in the Bay Area