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When Dancing isn’t Fun Anymore

Two friends of mine just quit dancing. One quit because the rejection was too much. The other quit because she hated the scene; it wasn’t supporting what she needed as a dancer and she wasn’t growing.

Here are a few things I’ve done in this situation (and a few I need to do more of).

#1. You gotta train. Let’s be honest: Dancing is a lot more fun when you are in high demand (especially with good dancers). No one really wants to pay $15 to sit for 3 hours. You get to be in demand by being well trained. I’m constantly amazed at how much detail goes into making someone a desirable dancer. If I want to dance with awesome dancers, I have to put in the same amount of work they did. And yep, the secret here is private lessons. Lots of them.

#2. Take the lead. If dancing isn’t fun because the skill level is low in your community, take the lead in getting people better trained. Host a practica where people share feedback. Have friends over to work on stuff. Invite a pro to your area to teach a workshop and host them if you can. If you are the most skilled person in the room and everyone else is struggling, build relations with those who show sincere interest in growing. Kindly offer some guidance and coaching for how to advance (i.e., point them to the best pro to work with). Sometimes people simply don’t know what they are missing.

The other option is to literally “take the lead”. Followers, you may love the challenge of learning to lead (and some guys love to follow!). I was amazed at how cool it was to be on the other side. Learning the other role can infuse all new energy to a stale dance life.

#3. Social dancing takes work. I’m an introvert. But when I show up at a dance, I work that room. I do my best to walk the room greeting everyone I know. I may even introduce myself to people I don’t know yet. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood for it and I’ll hide in a corner, but it truly makes a difference when I do it. This also helps you stay in high demand because most people like to dance with their friends and those perceived as warm, open and friendly.

Community is a huge part of any partner dance, so do the work to become part of the community you are in. There is a reason it’s called social dancing – we need to be social. On and off the floor.

#4. Drop the expectations. If you aren’t having fun anymore, take a moment to really consider why. How many of those reasons are due to unmet expectations? Just showing up doesn’t guarantee you dances. The best dancers may never notice you or seek you out. Life is a lot easier when you drop the expectations and find a way to make the best of whatever you find yourself in.

No good dancers? Use it as an opportunity to be social and build relationships. Feeling overlooked? Work on your solo dancing or study other dancers. Learn to embrace whatever is happening and make something good out of it.

#5. Go solo. If you dread “working the room” or just want to have fun or simply don’t want to depend on others to make your night fulfilling, try a dance you can do solo. Blues, ecstatic dance, belly dancing, tribal fusion, hip hop, african dance, pole dancing, aerial silks – there are tons of options that put you in full command of your experience.

#6. Take a break. I do this all the time… Sometimes it’s not fun RIGHT NOW. Walk away for a few weeks and you’ll likely come back feeling rejuvenated.  You may realize that what you really need is to try a different style of dance. Your body may simply be worn out. I burn out on dances all the time and rotate through several of them based on my mood.

You may realize that you have some personal issues to work through (rejection, insecurity, lack of confidence) – if so, address it so it stops haunting you. Whatever it is, give yourself a break to rest, heal and reset. And it always feels good when you reappear and people are excited to see you back again.

When it just isn’t fun anymore, all you need to do is something different.

The scene you are in may never change. But you can.

And that is what changes a scene. 

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The Lead is not a “Ride”

I know a girl who treats leads like they are amusement park rides. She wants the lead to entertain her with a bunch of flashy moves… lifts, dips, drops. If the dance isn’t exciting enough for her, she will throw herself into a dramatic dip or drop – and expect the guy to catch her.

Not only is that incredibly dangerous, but it’s rude to the lead. It treats him like he is there solely to serve her. Leads shouldn’t feel used for the follower’s enjoyment.

It amazes me how many times I hear this complaint from leaders… Feeling like his job is to give ladies a magical, exciting dance – despite the fact that she may not have the technical skills to execute it on her end.

I don’t expect the lead to show me off and make me feel beautiful, sexy and talented. That is MY job – and I shouldn’t rely on a lead for that. Great followers look amazing with anyone they dance with because of their skills – not the leads.

Therefore, I’m studying technique so I can be an equal contributor. A lead doesn’t want to exhaust himself compensating for things we aren’t willing to learn to do correctly (i.e., maintaining our own balance, staying on time, or sustaining proper frame and connection). He’s there to have fun too – not just work his ass off trying to keep us upright and beaming.

The most unforgettable dance I’ve witnessed was a tango couple in Denver; he led nothing but forward steps and side steps. The woman, with gorgeous footwork and brilliant musicality, spun those movements into pure magic.

She showed me that with amazing technique, we can make simple dances look and feel utterly captivating.

For me, partner dancing is about giving. I don’t seek out leads based on what I can get, I seek out leads based on what I feel we can give one another. I want the lead to sincerely enjoy dancing with me – and for the right reasons.

Ideally, I want to give perfect balance, solid connection and flawless timing (have patience; it is a work in progress). I want to inspire him with my musicality and entertain him with beautiful, creative styling. I want him to feel that moving with me is effortless so he can be in his heart and not in his headspace. And since that is the gift I want to give my lead, I am actively building those skills.

Ultimately, I want to be the follower who makes the dance fun for my lead. Because in partner dancing, it’s not all about me. It’s all about us. 

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If you just want to “use” a lead to make you feel beautiful and talented, at least drop $20 in his pocket when the song starts and say, “Entertain me!” so he knows what hell he just entered into. He will need it for physical therapy / medical bills when you throw yourself into a dip he didn’t lead. 

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