What about reducing the number of times someone rejects you for a dance?
A lot of ‘how much’ you are rejected is directly within your control. Not all, but definitely a significant portion. It has to do with social cues and body language. If you learn how to read your potential dance partners, you can greatly reduce the number of ‘declines’ you get. So, before you ask, ask yourself a few questions:
Are they distracted?
It’s pretty easy to see if someone is distracted. If someone is:
- In a conversation
- Checking their phone
- Massaging their feet
- Getting a drink
- Clearly going somewhere else/trying to leave the dance floor
I suggest postponing the ask. They may say ‘yes’, but the likelihood of an enthusiastic ‘yes’ is very low. If they wanted to dance, they would likely be trying to catch the attention of possible dance partners – not zoning off into another world.
Where are they sitting/standing?
Are they as far away from the dance floor as possible?
They probably do not want to dance. So, ask at your own peril. If you ask someone in these positions, you are likely to be declined. People who want to dance are not going to vacate the areas where they are likely to be asked. They will not go to the balcony, the bar, or outside the ballroom. They will not go to the darkest, furthest corner and put their feet up. Someone who wants to dance will likely be in one of the following places:
- On the dance floor
- Standing beside the dance floor
- Sitting directly beside the dance floor
Will they make eye contact?
This is a bit of a trickier one. If it is someone you don’t know well, or you are unsure from their positioning if they want to dance, see if they will make eye contact. If they won’t make eye contact at all or even smile, they probably don’t want to dance. If they turn their body or begin moving away, doubly so.
How will I ask?
Make sure that however you’re asking is consistent with the dance scene you are in. Some dances frown upon presenting a hand without a verbal ‘Would you like to dance?’ In other scenes, holding out a hand is quite acceptable as a way of asking.
A general rule: the less well you know someone, the more formal you should be. So, the first time you ask, use your words. If it’s a friend that you’ve known forever, you can probably get away with tackle-hugging them from behind and dragging them to the dance floor.
Am I using common sense?
Many people have a lovely habit of looking at what they want over what makes sense. For example, say I really want to dance with this one specific pro. He seems to be free, so I pounce, ignoring the fact that he is tired, sweaty, and clearly trying to escape the dance floor for a moment. Old-me would say “Would you like to dance?”, but new, common-sense me realizes that this is not a good time. What do I do instead?
Off the dance floor I say, “Once you’ve had a chance to take a break, I would love to dance a song with you.” Then, I leave them alone. So far, almost every single person I’ve said this to has come back for a dance when they feel ready. So, ask yourself a few questions:
- Are they actively pursuing/being pursued by another partner?
- Are they injured?
- Are they drunk?
- Have you already asked and/or danced with them several times?*
*This is a case that has happened to me a few times. I try to get a wide variety of dances in a single night, unless I have a favourite lead or follow that I rarely get to dance with. Some dancers will ask me anywhere from 4-10 times in a night. Usually 2-3 dances a night is fine, but after that it starts to feel a bit like dance-stalking and/or hogging, so I start to decline. Try not to ‘hog’ dancers, especially if they’re high-level. You’re setting yourself up for a rejection.
What if I still get declined A LOT after all these questions?
At the risk of seeming harsh, have you taken a look at how you make people feel? You may have a habit that is making people uncomfortable. From bad breath to rough dancing, it can be anything. I would ask for feedback from dancers or instructors you trust, and tell them what’s going on (Make sure you’re ready for the criticism, though).
This is particularly true if you find yourself having an easy time dancing with someone for the first time, but getting a repeat dance seems exceptionally difficult. That usually shows a bit of a habit. If it’s the other way around, there may be something that you are doing with your initial approach that is turning people off.
At the end of the day, we can only control our own behavior. If someone says no, we cannot force them to change it to a yes (and that is OK). But, we can save our ego’s part of the ache that comes with being rejected by ‘asking smart’ and using our common sense.