There are some pretty poignant comments from older dancers – particularly older women – about how intimidating it can feel coming into the social dance scene. This is true. It can be scary, and there will be some not-fun moments. And yes, you will likely have a harder time getting ‘into’ the scene than a 21 year old.
But, you still belong here. Contrary to what a few anti-social dancers may say or do, you belong as part of this community. You are valuable, and you deserve to engage in this beautiful world as much as any young adult.
Some of my favourite dancers are well into their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Some had a long history of dance to fall back on, and some worked really hard to learn from scratch. Others are just *really sweet* people, who are a pleasure to be around. Some inspire me to greater things in life – outside and inside of dancing.
I’m sorry that you will probably experience some sort of ageism in the dance scene. I’m sorry that there are some people who only see your age, and somehow feel that this makes you unsuitable as a dance partner. I know it’s hard, but please try to let this go.
Find the people who are open to you, and all you have to offer. There are a lot of them out there, and they don’t care how old you are – or how old you look. They only care that you are there, and that you really want to dance.
You also have the power to change minds. You know those people who have the first ‘instinct’ to judge you on your age? Prove them wrong! Talk to people, build relationships, and work on your dancing. You’ll be able to show them that age really has nothing to do with how you rock the floor – or how you contribute to the fabric of the community.
Really, age is just a number. Not everyone understands that right away, but the best way to teach people is to show just how kick-ass at any age you can be.
You are valuable. If you choose, you can become a great dancer. You can be a great inspiration. You can become a great promoter, or volunteer. There is no limit to what you can do as a contributing member of your dance community. The people who try to tell you otherwise really don’t know what they’re talking about.
You don’t need a young body to be an attractive dancer. You just need to be able to work the body you have. You still have all the same muscles as any other human – and you can train them to perform all of the waves, moves, pops, and smoothness of younger dancers. Depending on your fitness level and dance experience, it may take longer… but it is still very possible.
As you build connections, how you treat people will matter more than your age. If you decide to be bitter about the dance world and take a passive approach, you’ll likely find it much harder to have fun. If you encourage others, build relationships, and are welcoming to your fellow dancers, you’ll likely find yourself integrating into the fabric of the community much more quickly.
As much as you will face obstacles because of your age, it is also in your power to show people your potential. If you focus on how you feel out of place because you are older and spend your time tucked into a corner, the people who care about things beyond your age will be less likely to notice you. If you are social and open, these people will see you and be drawn to you.
For example, if you always wait to be asked to dance, it may take longer to get involved. If you take an active role in asking, you may get more no’s – but you will also get more ‘yes’ answers and make more connections. It’s scary, but it will serve you well!
You are a valuable member of our social dance world. Don’t let the few people who prematurely judge you affect your drive to dance. The majority of us don’t care about your age – only about what you bring to the social dance table. It’s up to you to choose how much you want to rock it.
Photo Credit: SV Photography