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Looking for some perspectives
Posted by Craig Olsen
8/3/2018  6:45:00 AM
Hi everyone, im new to dance and ive decided to take the leap and start private one on one lessons after my partner who has done some group lessons suggested we should go to a caberet at our local ballroom. Watching everyone having such fun and seeing my partner spinning and joining in gave me the final nudge i needed. Initially i did it as a surprise so i might be able to give her a waltz or somethibg once in a while, but the more i get into it the more i find im enjoying many dances.

My daughters have since joined and im having fun learning with them as well as my partner.

But we have hit a hurdle and im trying to work out if my perspective is “wierd” or something or if its ok as a choice as long as i dont expect it to be adopted by my partner as well (which i dont and wont)

What ive found is that for myself (ive always been shy to the extreme and a genuine introvert) i find myself very unconfortable dancing with strangers or the casual “freinds” ive met through dance. Even dancing with my instructor in our one on one lessons has been difficult and uncomfortable for me. When we went to a recent function i had multiple women (all good dancers and many instructors who i think had chosen to ask to try and get my confidence up) asking me to join in and dance with them but didnt understand when i turned them down. I had a tremendous night even with only having a couple of basic dances with my partner and watching from the side lines for the rest of the evening. My partner on the other hand doesnt bave any problems (which is fine) dancing with anyone who asks and has a great time. The problem has arisen however because she cant understand what my “problem” is and we have had some terse words where im being made to feel that my choice is wrong.

So im looking around the internet and i see a lot of discussions including many here about how the dance isnt sexual (which ive always agreed with) but that it is intimate (also agree). What im looking for from this post is to see different reactions and ask if anyone has any advice? Is it wrong of me to chose for myself that oher than during lesons and with my family/partner that i wont dance with strangers and accept that it will be harder and longer to learn but stick within my personal boundaries? Or should i just grin and bear it and get out there and hope i find my discomfort ease?

I do want to repeat that in no way do i want to limit or restrict my partner in her choices.

Re: Looking for some perspectives
Posted by Ladydance
8/4/2018  5:57:00 PM
You aren't weird and not wanting to dance with anyone except your partner is very common. However, going to a dance party and not dancing with anyone except your partner is often considered 'unfriendly'. Also, although you might not mean to, you are putting your partner in an awkward position. Dancing has always been a social activity first and foremost. I would say yes, get out there and it will become easier. If it is too much for you and you turn women down, just be aware that some will not understand and you might come across as snobby or rude. Perhaps an explanation - "I'm sorry, I'm just not confident enough yet to dance with anyone other than my partner" - might help. No one likes to be turned down after awhile they will stop asking.
Re: Looking for some perspectives
Posted by nloftofan1
8/5/2018  11:19:00 AM
Ladydance is exactly right. There is also another angle. Many ladies, for one reason or another, don't have regular partners. So although they may have spent significant amounts of money on lessons--because they enjoy dancing--they may spend most of the time sitting and watching other people dance. The three minutes of enjoyment you could give them may mean more than you realize. And it's only as personal as you make it.
Re: Looking for some perspectives
Posted by Oswin Targaryen
8/9/2018  1:00:00 PM
Dancing should be a place where everyone can feel comfortable and have fun. You should never feel pressured to do something that is outside of your boundaries. Ever.

I'm glad you brought this up because this is a very important issue that often either isn't talked about or is met with a lot of judgement.

My husband and I have a similar situation. He feels the same way as you. He enjoys it, but from the beginning his goal was just to dance with me. He never wanted to dance with multiple partners and has always enjoyed sitting on the sidelines watching and only dancing occasionally with me, but letting me dance with others - and even enjoying seeing me dance. I totally get that, and respect it, and just appreciate so much that he makes the effort to dance with me because he knows that I love it.

So... the problem isn't with your desire to sit on the sidelines and just dance with your partner. My guess is that you just need to be able to express your feelings more assertively to the ladies and your partner. What everyone else said is completely right - they're asking you to be nice and because they love to dance and they can't imagine why someone would just want to sit on the sidelines and watch when you could join the dance! If you are sheepish about saying no, then they assume that you are just being shy or are nervous about your level but really want to dance. So, they apply the golden rule - what would they want someone to do for them in that situation? They'd want to have a little push to help them get out of their comfort zone. I'm not saying that you need to be an $%&*@! about it, just say with a smile, "No thanks. I'm enjoying just watching." Or something. Repeat with confidence as many times as necessary. You said you've always been shy (me too) - a book that has really helped me with this is one called "When I Say No, I Feel Guilty." I HIGHLY recommend it.

My husband is very assertive, so it generally is never a problem when we're somewhere. The girls are never hurt when he turns them down, and they know better than to push it - and frankly, so do I! There was only one time when we went to a class before a Tango night on a Friday night when the instructor made it uncomfortable for us to stay together. He was pissed because it was supposed to be a "date", but we ended up not spending very much time together at all. The solution? We never went back. We found a different venue to dance at. The biggest problem that we have now is that he's so formidable that he has to walk out of the room before anyone else feels brave enough to ask me to dance! Lol

Getting the other girls to stop pushing you is the easy part - getting to the point where you and your partner can come to an understanding is the hard part. To do this, you're going to have to have some deep heart to heart conversations. You need to find out why it bothers her that you like to sit out. You've got to listen without judgement and take deep breaths to keep from getting frustrated so terse words don't accidentally sneak out. Listen and seek to understand her first before you try to get her to understand you. Ask probing questions. Don't get defensive, and understand that she probably will be defensive if this is something that has been a hot topic before. She may feel guilty because she assumes that you're not having fun when you're sitting out. She may feel threatened / guilty because she's dancing with other men and is afraid that deep down you're getting jealous. She may be disappointed because she imagined that you would be the next Fred Astaire and she would be your Ginger Rodgers. Maybe she feels confined because she feels that her level can't progress unless yours does.

A quick side note on that last one - it's a complete falsehood!!! My husband and I have excepted that it would be impossible for him to ever reach the same level as me, and that's okay. I've been dancing my entire life - I even used to teach dance. There's NO WAY he could ever bridge that gap. But, we can still have fun dancing together, AND I can still progress in my dancing. The way we've worked it out is that we take a lesson every other week together and I take one just by myself on the weeks we aren't doing one together.

The worst thing you can do is grin and bear it until your discomfort eases! Your discomfort WILL ease, but only if you face it. Both YOU and your relationship is going to be stronger for it.

Hope this was helpful. Good luck!!!
Re: Looking for some perspectives
Posted by live2dance
9/2/2018  6:27:00 PM
This is the very same thing I experienced when I first started dancing ballroom. All of a sudden, you're expected to get up close and personal with someone you do not have a close personal relationship with. It took me a lot of time and practice to get used to it. I'm a very private person, and it was a shock to my system to be expected to be so close to another person that I was not related to, or in a relationship with. You almost have to think of it as a performance, being an actor, if you will. There will be times that it will be very uncomfortable and there will be times that it is so much fun, you'll wonder why it took so long to discover the freedom that lies in being able to express yourself with the music.
Don't pressure yourself too much for now. Start gradually with the dances that don't require too much contact and progress from there. The ballroom and social dancing world is so different than when I was in school and only danced with my "crush." I was actually in my 40's when I started ballroom and I was so uncomfortable, I felt like a total dweeb. In time, I came to appreciate the technicalities of the dance, how I could find a rhythm with a complete stranger if we both knew the basics (or not, lol) and still enjoy how we can connect without fear or prejudice in just allowing our bodies to move together to music without expectation. I do have to say that the more you can do it, the easier it gets. I'm extremely shy and introverted but I love dancing so much, I force myself to try to move past the extreme self-conciousness. Most dances you can do using a "practice hold" which lends a little more distance between bodies and as you're a beginner, it's a completely legitimate excuse to start you on the track to a confident, well-rounded dance partner. Oswin has some very good advice. If you are not willing to do that, you may still find enjoyment dancing with only your current partner, but you may have trouble with the fact that she enjoys dancing with others. It's not that your choice is "wrong", but it is your choice and can be changed with effort if you so desire. Change may not be easy, but sometimes it's SO worth it. Best of luck to you~
Re: Looking for some perspectives
Posted by twaldowski
9/3/2018  1:02:00 PM
First - it is social dancing. You have three minute conversions with your dance partner and there are no words. When the dance is over you leave with the one who brung ya. If you are going to do something do it well. Consider the bonus of better balance, tone, core strength, and improved brain function as a side benefit. That's the short version, rambling soap box version follows.

I started ballroom in my early 20s and I was geek/nerd version #1. Fortuitously I started with group classes and did not start private lessons until months later. In group classes the partners are rotated and for a long time I did not have to ask for a dance. In the group class environment you learn to lead/follow better/faster. I did not start private lessons until months later. Then at the parties at the same ballroom I was familiar with the women and it was easier to ask. Then later when I got married my wife was OK with the ballroom dancing but insisted that I always change partners - hence my lead skills were always improving.

I manage a ballroom club and there are couples who don't rotate. If they social dance at all they only do the figures from the class - there is no lead-follow; they are familiar with each other and the leader can be less clear. I am not saying they is not OK for them, just understand the limitations. Here is where that goes south: say the un-rotating couple go the inevitable wedding, company party, maybe New Year's dance. The couple dance together well to the unfamiliar eye. The woman's friend says "your husband is such a good dancer, can I have one dance with him". The women beams and loans the husband out. What happens next is a disaster, he has rarely danced with another woman and doesn't really know how to lead, no matter the skill of the friend.

Again - not rotating and always dancing with your SO is OK if that's what you want, but it is limiting.

And I know some with think I am exaggerating, I am not. I have been involved in ballroom for a long time, I have observed 100s if not 1000s of men at dozens of ballrooms. Most men even if they stick with dancing for years stop improving at a little above average (I know my use of average here is statistically skewed but go with it) because at at that level they don't pull on the woman's arms and are more likely to dance with their body. Since women out-number men most of the time they rarely are told no when asking for a dance. I quote an advanced instructor whose class I attended: "Let me show you how to lead this, now I know you think you can lead, but you cannot, you are only better than the chair". Women just want to dance and the little-above-average guy is better than the chair.
Re: Looking for some perspectives
Posted by BallroomChick
9/3/2018  3:18:00 PM
If your going to a studio dance and you are escorting your partner and she is ONLY dancing with you - then not it is not really rude to say no.
However, if she is dancing with everyone and you now and again it is rather rude to say no. A studio social is a safe place of learning.
I can not tell you how many guys have told me up front - they are just starting. It's OK, we all were newbies once.
I've watched as they counted each step and concentrated on just the basic moves. THIS is where you gain confidence.
So what if you mess up, and have to start over - you laugh about it and say oops and find that beat again.
If I've miss a step a guy has lead - either poorly or it's something I've not seen before and he looks at me strangely - I'll say apparently
I've missed the pattern you were trying for will you try it again OR wow I've never seen that, show it to me again.

The more you participate the more confidence you will gain. The more you participate the more friends you will make.
The more you dance, the more you will find you leave your troubles outside the studio and it becomes a release.

Keep going! I can remember learning closed position in Tango with my instructor. His wife was there encouraging me to get closer it, WAS ok to do so.
Yes it was uncomfortable at first. That feeling WILL go away the more you work on dancing. HAVE FUN WITH THIS.
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