So, you’re new to the dance world. Or trying a new style. You’ve heard about this mythical thing called ‘social dancing’. That is, dancing with random people you probably don’t know. In front of other people. In a style you’re not very familiar with.
Sound terrifying? If it does, you’re not alone. One of the hardest things to do within dance is taking that first plunge into the realm of socials. What if you forget your moves? What if you can’t find the beat? What if that really good dancer thinks you suck?
Well, you probably will forget moves and lose the beat sometimes – but we (other dancers) don’t care. We’re just really glad you’re coming into our lovely (and highly addictive) world. Seriously! You add a +1 to our ranks. We want you to become ‘part of the gang’. We want you to stick around. You, dear newbie, are the foundation our entire dance is built on!
Also, if that ‘really good dancer’ thinks you suck and is acting like a twat, they’re probably not as good as they appear. Good dancers are excellent at making even basic dances fun for themselves. I, for one, have far more fun with a beginner lead that has 1-2 moves that they can kinda-sorta do. Because, frankly, beginners are awesome. They don’t have ego, they’re almost incapable of hurting me with their basics, and beginners coming into the dance have more courage than anyone else in the room.
So, when should you start social dancing?
As soon as possible! Whether you’ve never taken a class, been doing a few, or have taken months or more, social dancing improves your skills and helps you make friends. It takes a lot of courage to go out the first time – but it’s very worth it. If you’re in a class, ask your classmates to go with you to make a ‘troupe’. If you haven’t taken dance before, ask a friend to go with you, or find somewhere with a free beginner class!
“But what if I have a bad dance?” – EVERYONE has bad dances. There are always going to be people you connect with well, and people you don’t. You may even connect really well to someone your friend doesn’t connect well with at all. It’s normal, and they’re not going to think you’re ridiculous just because your style doesn’t mesh with theirs.
“But what if I lose the beat or forget the steps?” – This will probably happen. The more you social dance, the less it will happen. Taking lots of classes will not fix this – you need social dancing to fix it. Also, when it DOES happen, we don’t care. We’ve forgotten our steps at some point, and honestly, beginners forgetting steps is one of the most accepted things in social dancing. We want you to stay. We want you to improve. You get plenty of “I-forgot-the-step” passes.
“But what if a really great dancer thinks I suck and I look stupid?” – If they think that about a beginner, they’re probably not a good dancer. Or, if they are, they have a very bad attitude. You don’t look stupid and you don’t suck – you’re new. And, quite frankly, the courage you show by coming out and social dancing is tremendous. No experienced dancer going out to the social is actively displaying the same level of courage as you, dear beginner.
“But what if I hurt someone?” – Of all the dancers, the ones who ask this question are the least likely to hurt someone. Why? Because most of you are so, SO concerned about hurting your partner. If you are sensitive to the possibilities of hurting someone, the risk goes way, way down. The people with dangerous quirks are the people who think they’re awesome and either don’t respect their dance partner or dance above their skill level.
“But what if I’m lonely or if I’m not getting asked to dance?” – I’ll tell you what I once told a beginner friend of mine: do the asking. When you’re a beginner, the surest way to make connections and have fun is for you to breathe deep and put yourself out there. We’ll think you’re awesome for it. If you’re really nervous, a fantastic preface that I advise using is saying “Hey, I’d really like to dance with you, but I’m a beginner. Will you dance with me?” Bam. Now they know what your skills are; no pressure. Not everyone will accept, but not everyone accepts invites from even experienced dancers. The people who don’t accept probably have a good (not-you) related reason for declining.
Questions? Fears? Feel free to send me a comment or message, or talk to your teacher or dance friends. We’re here for you so you can grow. So take the plunge: become a social dancer.