Dancing Scared (Part 2)
“Comparison is the Thief of Joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
a KjzzFuzion perspective article on dance and insecutity – Part 2.
We encourage you to read part 1 of Dancing Scared before proceeding. Part 1 describes the origin of dance insecurities. Part 2 lists some tips and tricks to help overcome the common insecurities dancers face in the dance community. Share this information and get sharted on this positive change of sharing the real you.
- If you are insecure about your physical appearance:
When we think of social dancing, we think of thin, athletic, and often sexy individuals, dressed in glamourous dresses and suits. These often unrealistic ideals can easily make us feel inadequate.
Our advice on that point is threefold:
- Most advanced dancers care very little about your appearance, and much more about the experience you can deliver to them by leading or following them.
Most “Do’s and Don’ts” lists written by experienced dancers on the proper etiquette of dancing with new partners talk about ways to ensure that the other person is having a good time dancing. Practically no such list will mention your appearance, with the exception of your hygiene – make sure to smell good, without an obnoxious amount of perfume, and if you sweat profusely, bring extra shirts – and your smile – show your partner that you are enjoying the dance. Anything else, be it your weight, hair, skin, etc. is irrelevant to your worth on the dance floor. (For an example of a “Do’s and Don’ts” list, take a look at Felix Crainicu’s “Social Dancing – Do’s and Don’ts” on opportunidance.eu, from 25 January 2016.)
- If they do discriminate you on the basis of your looks, they are the jerk. Not you.
It would be naïve to pretend that absolutely everyone in the dance community is decent and kind. Some people are superficial. Some people are pretentious. Some of them will unabashedly reject potential partners on the basis of their appearance. If this happens to you, do not let it discourage you from inviting someone else to dance, or from pursuing dance in general. They are in the wrong, not you.
- Dress for comfort and practicality, not to impress.
The appropriate way to dress for dancing events or social dancing clubs remains an active debate today. The recommended attire will vary, whether the dancing style of the event or location you wish to attend is latino or ballroom, for instance. What most dancers will however agree on is that you should avoid anything that will inconvenience you or your partner while dancing: jewelry, watches, or clothes that hinder arm placement.
You want to show that you put thought and care into the clothes you chose, but practicality and comfort ultimately come first. (For more info, take a look at this article on dancing etiquette: “Les règles de politesse en danse,” www.partenaire-danse.fr, 24 February 2015.)
- If you are insecure about your dancing skills or level of progress:
Especially for beginners, the fear of not being good enough can be overwhelming. The thought of dancing with someone who is more advanced than you are can be terrifying: What if they get irritated? What if they dump me in the middle of the dance? What if I make a fool of myself?
Some things to keep in mind when those strings of thoughts start threading through your mind:
- It is NOT proper etiquette to refuse an invitation to dance, unless you have a valid reason.
This a fairly well understood rule in the dance community, and many blogs and forums on the topic of dance will address it. A valid reason to refuse invitation can be that you already promised a dance to someone else, or that you are exhausted and need a break for a few songs. The other person’s level of skill is not, however, a valid reason. This means that you refusing an invitation because you think the person asking is too advanced for you is impolite, but this also means that someone rejecting you on the basis of your beginner status is also just as impolite. Beginners are the pros of tomorrow, and most advanced dancers will understand that.
- If your partner is forcing you into movements that are too advanced or make you uncomfortable: speak up!
We mentioned vulnerability earlier. If vulnerability is about openness and transparency, this also means that you need to be able to voice your feelings and needs when necessary. The dance floor is no place for an extensive lesson, so avoid lengthy lectures, but do make sure to let your partner know when you are pushed to your limit. If they refuse to listen and are rude to you, it of course becomes acceptable for you to refuse any further invitations by this person in the future.
- If you are insecure about the proximity with your partner:
Social dancing often comes with connotations of sensuality, or at least with a lot of close proximity with the other person.
If this aspect of the activity scares you, keep in mind the following:
- The dance floor is not a substitute for a dating application.
It is not proper etiquette to make explicit advances to a new partner while on the dance floor. (Refer once more to Frank Crainicu’s “Do’s and Don’ts” for more on that point.) As a result, if a partner is very clearly coming onto you, it is acceptable for you to politely, but firmly let them know that this is inappropriate, or that it is making you uncomfortable.
You should be able to enjoy the experience of dancing with someone, without worrying about their intentions.
- You can set your own boundaries.
Proximity can be expected, but your partner should not force themselves on you either. If they are consistently getting too close for comfort, kindly let them know!
This article was a brief overview of some insecurities you may face in the dance community. Hopefully, this information can help you overcome these fears by better understanding their origin. And remember, the more you face what scares you, the less scared you will be in being you.