This article is for the women who don’t understand why their men are so shy about taking dance lessons. It’s for the men who get frustrated when their partner wants to learn step after step, leaving them to struggle with the technique. And it’s for anyone who wonders why their friends and family will put the next competition or dance social before almost any other obligation.
The secret to putting up with dancing partners and relations is understanding the underlying motivations for dancing, as well as how it tends to differ between the sexes.
We Dance to Feel our Masculinity/Femininity
All talk of gender equality aside, we can all agree men and women have somewhat different motivations for dancing. Men want to feel powerful, to feel in control, but also to be able to protect their partner. Women on the other hand, dance to bring out the inner beauty, sexiness, and elegance that is normally restrained in polite society. This can be expressed in ballroom dance through the role of the leader and follower. The leader’s job on the dance floor is to protect and guide his partner, and to show her off. The follower in turn, trusts the leader to display her good qualities, while adding the embellishments that give the dance much of it’s personality.
For the ladies: The worst thing you can do for your partner is criticize or rush him while he’s learning. Your average man is already feeling vulnerable, because he’s forced to demonstrate his inexperience at a skill in front of the opposite sex – something his instinctual nature will be screaming against. Be patient, encourage him, and above all, let him know you are NOT judging him!
For the gentleman: Dancing requires something that might be scary at first, but also makes you infinitely more attractive – spontaneity. Your partner doesn’t just want to learn the steps, she wants to feel them, to flow through them without thinking. Which means you have to laugh off and push through the inevitable mistakes, while your body develops the right instincts. I’m not saying forget about technique entirely, but make time to just dance as well, even if you only dance two or three steps over and over.
We Dance to Connect to Others
How many people know you, intimately, right down to your core? If you’re honest, the answer is no one, or maybe one or two others if you’re lucky. Through ballroom dance, we learn to connect to others on a level that transcends words. What better then an activity that requires you to put all your attention on your partner, and respond to their every move, to create authentic connection? In a world dominated by cell phones, computers and the internet, dancing creates a chance to actually feel someone, on a physical and emotional level.
We Dance to Express Who We Really Are
Ultimately, dance brings out some part of our personality that we’ve kept hidden outside the club or studio. Maybe you’re shy around the opposite sex, and ballroom dance lets you act confident and relaxed. Or perhaps you feel clumsy and awkward most of the time, and moving with your partner brings out a grace and elegance you didn’t know you had. Maybe you just love music so much, you just need some way to express what you hear through your body! There are as many reasons to dance as there are people dancing – or wanting to dance. So, it’s worth asking yourself: what do I want my dance persona to be? How would I express my movement if I was that person all the time?