Getting on the Social Floor

I’m always learning to dance.  I figure I’ll never really master dancing to the level I’d like, but that’s okay because I’m a “social dancer.”  What I’ve always wanted to do is get to the point where I feel comfortable dancing with partners of all different levels on the social floor; I don’t want to compete.

When I started partner dancing, I learned East Coast Swing, then Argentine tango, and more recently, West Coast Swing.  I had similar experiences in all of them when it came time to get on the social floor:  I was afraid no one would ask me to dance, and I was terrified that someone would.  I wanted to practice what I’d learned, but I feared that my partner would never ask me to dance again if he deemed me a lousy dancer.  I felt anxious.

Little by little I found some things that worked for me.  With East Coast Swing, I took  a lot of group classes.  I met people in the classes and I would dance with them during the social dance.  I took a few private lessons, but mainly group classes.  After I’d been dancing about two years, I met a fellow dancer one evening who claimed to be a beginner.  When she got up to dance, I saw that she was dancing as well as I was!  Her secret?  She was taking private lessons.  Somehow she seemed to have skipped all those early awkward moments of social dancing.  It made me realize that if I wanted to progress quickly, private lessons were the way to go.

When I started learning Argentine tango and West Coast Swing, I went to group classes and took private lessons, too.  My private lessons were where I was able to concentrate on what I, personally, needed to learn and practice, while in the group classes I met people to dance with later as well as to sit next to on the side of the dance floor–both men and women who became my dance friends.

 I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who was both afraid of not being asked to dance and being afraid that I would be asked.  I also started asking others to dance and not waiting around to be asked.  No one has ever said no. I still have some uncomfortable moments, but by and large, they are few and far between.  Yes, private lessons can be expensive, but they helped me be more confident much quicker and were totally worth it. And besides, getting to know my instructors was fun!

-Susan Wexler