When I decided to take dance lessons I was looking at my own life and realized that I wanted to join in rather than pretend that I just wasn't interested or that I just "didn't dance" (really meaning "I'm afraid, so I won't."). How many times have we either said or heard that? In the back of my mind was a statement from a widowed friend who had spent a long and good marriage without dancing because her husband "didn't dance," even though she wished for many years to do so. So many times I sat at some table, not dancing, trying to pretend that I was interested in almost anything else (a.k.a. putting on the armor).
I've learned that when I catch myself holding back from an activity (or person), especially if I try to add an air of disdain, the chances are that I am really being intimidated by the activity (or person). This is a red flag to stop and look at myself then make a few changes. This way I transform social intimidation into social pleasure without needing an analyst.
As I think back on it I've talked to so many persons in relationships who love their partner but who, when asked about dancing, get a terribly pained expression on their face when asked whether they, as a couple, dance. "____ (fill in the name - usually but not always the guy) doesn't dance." You just know there is real hurt going on which is getting buried. This doesn't have to be. The places I am listing here give good dance instruction at very very affordable prices (dirt cheap really). You won't have to feel like a dummy. You don't have to be a competition dancer.
If you think you've waited too long in life I'm 49 (at this writing in early 1997) and I know a number of people decades older who are finally getting their first chance to enjoy dancing. Others are finally getting a chance to again enjoy dancing after many, many years away from the social pleasure of the dance floor.
As you learn you can weave together several learning opportunities.
Each provides something the others may not and as you participate in each
type of learning you will find it contributes to each of those others.
Definitely do all of them or at least the first two. Here is what I see
that I get from each dance-learning activity.
Only one caution. Don't dance with just one person. This is a life-raft approach. Both of you will get cheated out of a richer learning experience. You will learn to compensate for each other's mistakes. The more people you learn to dance with the better the two of you will be able to dance together. You will be able to add all sorts of little moves you might never have gotten by yourselves thereby greatly enriching each other's enjoyment. In addition to the added moves you will expand your social set to know even more nice people the both of you can enjoy.
The gal threw on a hopefull good-sport smile (more like a grimmace), and only lasted a dance or two before having to retire to the sidelines looking to us as if she were feeling beat up. He didn't look as though he knew any better and he looked as satisfied as if he had just finished loading a cargo hold full of heavy bales. She looked as if she thought it was her fault for not dancing better. They both needed a better dance education.
Nor is it about one partner showing off how much better he or she is than the other partner. Lead and follow are just temporary job descriptions during a dance. It is usual for the male partner to do the lead and the female partner to do the follow. Partly out of tradition, partly because there are different steps for each to do. At first just getting down one set of steps and one role is a lot. But there is no reason you can't exchange roles right in the middle of any dance, and still remain in the same steps. Each role has various responsibilities which boil down to informing, guiding and supporting. The lead (like a drummer in a band) has a lot to do with how well BOTH of you are able to execute manuevers.
I find that I really do enjoy having my "follow" partner initiate moves and introduce me to new steps or other ideas she would like to do. Remember, this is play for adults. Besides, it frees me from having to worry about being the sole idea generator and the main entertainer. We are both having fun inventing and it is always a joy to be with another person when that other person is experimenting. Each person needs to "listen" and "talk" using hands, body, eyes and firmness (tone) in the arms. It is a communication.
By the way, a good dancer will match his or her dancing to the level
of the partner (remember the listening). It is a matter of courtesy as
well as out and out consideration and encouragement to learn more. Even
Fred and Ginger danced with dancers of lesser abilities. You might even
say that the better you are the better you will be able to dance with folks
who don't (yet) do well on the dance floor. That way both of you look better
and feel better.
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