Overcoming Shyness and Social Dance Jitters

//Overcoming Shyness and Social Dance Jitters

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over you are finally ready to embark upon a fresh list of exciting, new activities in the New Year.
From trying new places and restaurants to starting up your fitness program; part of which includes the dance classes you’ve been thinking about for a while but never got around to doing. You’re on a roll. So although you think that you have two left feet and are not musically inclined, you’re secretly enjoying the very classes that your buddy has been twisting your arm about for so long. Although some of the classes can be challenging or even frustrating at times, at least you’re able to hide in the back of the room and keep unwanted attention off of yourself. You’re learning but wish that there were more opportunities for you to practice.

You constantly hear your instructor, and other students talk about the dance socials that always seem to be happening, even sometimes right after class. You know that you could use the additional practice so think about giving it a try, but then every time you talk yourself out of it with excuses like “I’m still a beginner”, “I don’t want to perform in front of others”, “I don’t want to embarrass myself,” and ultimately what it often boils down to, is a lack of confidence and being shy. Whichever of these excuses you might have heard or even used yourself, you shouldn’t feel bad because so many others feel the same way, including some instructors and performers when they first began! Doing something new and especially when it’s out of your comfort zone can understandably can be quite unnerving, or even terrifying for some. The good new is that it can be overcome just as easily as it seems to overtake you.

Dance socials are not only a great outlet for socializing, but they are also an excellent way to reinforce material that is taught in class. With partner dancing in particular, practice and repetition are essential not only for mastery of movement, but retention as well. Since there can be many complex arm movements and turn patterns in partner dances, social dances offer students a way to practice what they’ve learned amongst dancers from a variety of levels, thereby helping them to progress and grow as dancers.

Although there are different ways of overcoming shyness, some sure fire ways that have worked are to:

1. Stay consistent with your (dance) classes – As you build consistency, your abilities and confidence will increase along with it. You’ll also learn a new move or two that you can use at the next event! For partner dances, you’ll have a chance to dance with other participants as you continually rotate throughout the class. When you find someone who you click with or who’s style blends well with your own, ask them to save you a dance during the next social.

2. Get to know your instructors – Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat steps or clarify something you’re not getting. (Believe me, most instructors want you to understand what’s being taught). So if something isn’t clicking, then don’t hesitate to ask for help.

3. Reach out and get to know the other students – If you’re hesitant to make the first move, don’t be. Perhaps they are just as shy and feeling the same way you do. Nonetheless, when you make friends in class, you’ll find instant companions to attend social with, (which will minimize intimidation and guarantee automatic dance partners who you’re already comfortable with)!guarantee automatic dance partners who you’re already comfortable with)!

4. If you don’t have a partner or date to bring, go anyway! – Most regular dancers don’t usually bring partners to social events. Why is that you may be wondering? Because it isn’t necessary. The goal for most dancers is to have as many good dances with as many different dancers as is possible. Practicing with a variety of people tends to advance the learning process in a way that having less partners doesn’t. In addition, even if you go alone and don’t know anyone, you would be surprised how many others are there eager to find new people to dance with as well.

5. Don’t be a wallflower – If you’re too nervous or shy to ask someone to dance, or feel that you’re not being asked enough, then plant yourself near the edge of the dance floor so that others are aware that you want to dance. Bonus tip: Having a smile and friendly body language (ie… arms uncrossed) makes a difference. Stay out of the corners and areas in back. If no one can see you then no one will be able to find you or even know that you want to dance.

6. Make eye contact and smile  – Including to those you don’t know – Although this may seem painfully nerve racking for you super shy types, it will go along way by showing that you are friendly, approachable and ready to hit the dance floor.


7. People watch – While getting something to drink or taking a break, take a moment to sit and watch others dance. Everybody does it – everybody! From the novice newbie all the way up to the polished pros, whether they’re taking a break, scanning the floor for their next partner, or checking out others moves, a lot can be learned by just looking around.

8. Become familiar with the music – When you truly enjoy something, or are at least familiar with it, you’ll have a better feel for what to expect. In dance, whether it’s salsa or swing, ballroom or hip-hop, or any other style, you will get to know patterns and rhythms that will improve your ability to interpret music and improve the quality of your movement. Your increased knowledge and understanding will make you more comfortable and confident.

Dance socials are not only a great outlet for socializing, but they are also an excellent way to reinforce material that is taught in class. With partner dancing in particular, practice and repetition are essential not only for mastery of movement, but retention as well. Since there can be many complex arm movements and turn patterns in partner dances, social dances offer students a way to practice what they’ve learned amongst dancers from a variety of levels, thereby helping them to progress and grow as dancers.

By |2015-01-14T05:22:10+00:00January 13th, 2015|Dance Guide|0 Comments

About the Author:

Having fearlessly explored every continent, Nneka is multi-lingual and passionate about travel, culture and life. A SDSU alumni, she has worked in KTVU Fox's newsroom, interviewed notable figures and hosted programs for various media outlets. She has also written features for The San Leandro Times and LostGirlsWorld.com. Also a seasoned performer and fitness professional, Nneka holds several fitness certifications, has shared the stage with entertainment icons, and has appeared on various TV Shows. Follow her global adventures in the arts and beyond on IG @nnekaworldtrekker.