So, at this point, I’ve been socially dancing for a little over a year. I’ve always enjoyed dancing to good music, even if I had never learned any formal way how. Now, I’d say that social dancing become a passion of mine. I’ve obviously gotten used to dancing with people, both friends I know and people I’ve never met before. Granted, this was also something I was comfortable with before entering the social dancing world, but you get the idea. It’s led me to an interesting question: why are some people, many people, in fact, so uncomfortable with the idea of dancing in public? (Not including the generally alcohol-fueled club scene, of course).
Now, I mean this in a way outside the super obvious. Some people are very shy and self-conscious, and don’t want to put themselves “on display”, for lack of a better term. Different strokes for different folks, of course. But even some very extroverted, confident people I know seem to have some kind of discomfort with dancing in front of others, especially with a partner. I find this somewhat interesting, as in many other cultures, music and dancing are inseparable. In fact, in some languages, the words for “music” and “dance” are one and the same; you can’t have one without the other. Yet our society has greatly separated the two.
Playing music and dancing to it are considered to entirely different things in American culture. They are even divided into two separate fields of study. Someone can be a “musician”, which has no bearing on whether or not they are a “dancer”. Yet both performing and dancing are all about music. I think being a dancer can help someone become a better musician, and vice versa.
And I think this separation speaks a bit to the idea of dancing being almost intimidating to many in our society today. It’s so separated from everything that it seems like some difficult, complex, inaccessible art. Yet I can honestly say nobody should be intimidated about entering the social dance scene. I dance with beginners almost every week, and most of them are nervous that their being a beginner will somehow make me rethink my decision to dance with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love dancing with people who are exploring swing and blues dancing for the first time, because I get to use what I know to help them get more comfortable on the dance floor and have fun. Or at least, I hope I do. 😛
Anyway. The point I’m laboriously trying to get to is that knowing how to partner dance in any “formal” way (for lack of a better term) has seemingly become some intimidating thing that not many people seem to do, for some reason. And I think that’s too bad; in my humble opinion knowing how to dance is a great life skill. I’m hoping it makes a comeback in the not-too-distant future. And I know I harp on this point a lot, but…it’s fun! 🙂 So to any non-dancer readers, I ask: what is it about social partner dancing that makes people relatively reluctant to take it up? I’d truly love to get your input on this.
If you have any thoughts, questions, or experiences of your own you’d like to share, feel free to post a comment! I’d love to hear what you have to say!