Ballroom Dance > Close to giving up.

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by dgarstang, May 10, 2013.

  1. stash

    stash Well-Known Member

    You may want to consider going to a different studio then that offers more group classes. Maybe going back to an AM.

    As to not knowing many followers at the parties; there are two ways of fixing that issue. One, ask more of the followers that you don't know to dance and socialize a bit. Nothing ventured nothing gained. Two, invite someone from the group class to go a long with you. At least then you are in good company of not feeling very confident about your dancing and the two of you can boost each other's confidence up.
    latingal likes this.
  2. freeageless

    freeageless Active Member


    I agree with what you said about the group classes. You can meet a lot of people who are like you at the group classes. A lot of them do not go to the parties because they lack confidence. If your goal is to meet and interact with people, you cannot do that in private lessons. If I were you, I would only take some private lessons, if I have trouble keeping up in the group classes. I would recommend that you try to find an independent studio in your area that offers a lot of group classes, and does not require you to take private lessons-or one that only requires you to take an occasional private lesson.
  3. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Question: why are private lessons "not enough" when two of your big concerns were not knowing some dances, and not being able to lead when you're at socials?

    It's been suggested here several times, and you've just been dismissing the idea... why do you think they won't help?
  4. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    Hey, Doug. I'm sorry if people have gone over this before, but I can't recall. I was wondering if you've ever considered trying to work some sort of an "event" into your dance life. By that I mean have you ever thought about doing a showcase, or possibly a competition. (Although a showcase seems like a better fit in your case, particularly if you can your way into a group number.)

    I know those don't really fit in with the social dancing that seems to be you (entirely worthwhile!) main goal. But one of the difficulties of that as a goal is that it's kind of hard to measure tangible progress. I know a lot of people who feel like having some sort of concrete goal to be a significant help in their dance life. And the events themselves are fun and I've always found there to be a nice sense of comraderie among the performers. And it could get you out of your comfort zone in a good way.

    Of course, it's also entirely possible that this is a lousy suggestion and something that you really, really wouldn't be interested in. I'm just trying to think of different things to try that might help, since you seem to be frustrated with where you are right now. Shaking things up a bit might not hurt. I'm sure you know the old saw about the definition of insanity.
  5. raindance

    raindance Well-Known Member

    One other thought I had is when you do go to socials, ask other people about their dance journey. Just ask them how long they've been dancing, whether it was easy for them to learn, where they have taken lessons, how they feel about dancing now, etc. Just listen to their answers and ask follow up questions. Resist the urge to tell them your frustrations about your journey (don't use these conversations as an opportunity to complain) and just listen to a variety of people tell you what the dance journey has been like for them. If you want to talk about frustrations, ask about their frustrations, but don't mention yours just now.

    I think you would learn a lot about dance and about the people around you. You might find out that the guy or girl that looks confident had a terrible time getting there but stuck with it. Or that another girl that it seems to come easy to had 17 years of jazz and ballet training before learning to hustle. Or that lots of people have trouble in group classes, or whatever. I think it would give you insight into what individual dance journeys are like. Might give you ideas you can use in your own journey. (Like, if 10 dancers you admire talk about how great a certain teacher is, there is a clue... but it may not be that clear cut.) Might make you feel less alone in having some struggles along the way. And might help you make the decision about whether or not it is worth sticking it out and continuing to try. And it would give you an ice breaker to get you talking to people. Start by asking other leaders to tell you about their journeys.
  6. twothreefourone

    twothreefourone Active Member

    I like JudeMorrigan and raindance's suggestions, sometimes it's too much trying to "fix" everything at once, and inefficient. Better and more practical to focus on one or two things at a time, like breaking the ice, or getting comfortable with a waltz routine that challenges you. Every little victory gets you a step closer and the path there does not seem as daunting when you're only aiming for the next tree to rest under.
    latingal likes this.
  7. Alice.W

    Alice.W Member

    hey Doug,
    Parties could be intimidating and not everyone enjoys them, you are not alone here. Some studios seem to have a very close circle of regulars where good dancers dance with each other (understandable) and beginners stand or sit around and look scared. Other studios are a bit more receptive to beginners or intimidated dancers. Sometimes you need to accept things the way they are - not to stink it up - but simply accept who you are. yeah, you don't like social dancing, so what? Too bad CBD doesn't offer group classes you want, maybe next month? or another studio? Don't be too hard on yourself. Looks like you take dancing for the enjoyment of learning, nothing wrong with that, you don't have to apply it at parties.

    Also, it's very normal to re-evaluate your dancing goals every 2-3 years and ask yourself: why am I doing it? I've done it few times during the past 6 years. The way I approached it was to see how I feel after a lesson, a party, a performance, or a competition (yeah, I've done all of that). If it takes me down or makes me feel bad in some way, I stop doing it. Maybe too radical, but as you, I wasn't willing to "stink it up", I am doing it for fun after all and when fun isn't there, why do it? So I changed my dancing priorities few times, back and forth.
    You will find yourself, just keep searching and once again, be gentle to yourself.
    latingal likes this.
  8. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I should clarify...I really don't know if he has Asperger's or not. I could be way off base with that, but it's a guess.
  9. SwayWithMe

    SwayWithMe Well-Known Member

    This is great advice.

    I keep a priority list of very-short-term dance goals handy on my phone and reevaluate every week or two. It stops me from getting bogged down in what often seems like a lack of progress towards long-term goals.

    DH during a low point: "This is supposed to be fun for you. Right now it's fun like widely metastatic cancer is fun." I take things way way too seriously at times...
    twnkltoz likes this.
  10. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    the point I took away from that was that persons with challenges possibly exceeding Op's have adjusted their attitude and thrived
    Loki, Gorme, SwayWithMe and 2 others like this.
  11. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Late to the party but I'd focus on group classes. I once went to a group class out of town where I knew nobody. It was aimed at complete newbs but it worked as an icebreaker. I had several people from class to dance with and once a few regulars saw me dancing with some of my "classmates ", I had no trouble finding people to dance with.
    SwayWithMe likes this.
  12. Zhena

    Zhena Well-Known Member

    Let me take the role of a "trusty and reliable friend" here. I've met and danced with Doug at only one social but I think that's enough to establish that none of the issues listed above are applicable. Doug has good hygiene, he seems to hear the music and he seems to know a reasonable number of dance moves. In fact, if I were to rank all the leaders at that social, I would probably place him in the upper half.

    But, if I recall correctly, his lead was somewhat tentative, he was flustered too easily, and he apologized a little too much. These are all symptoms of his self-diagnosed problem -- a lack of self-confidence.

    The followers are not avoiding Doug; the problem is that Doug is not approaching the followers.
  13. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    dancing doesn't treat social anxiety disorder....psychiatry does

    wait I think i said that already:eek:
    Miss Silly and Bailamosdance like this.
  14. Zhena

    Zhena Well-Known Member

    Doug, I sympathize with your desire to find the group classes and socials that meet your needs. If you've followed my posts, you know that I haven't found my ballroom "home" either, and I'm exploring the same locations available to you. The difference is, I know (not just on the surface, but really know) that I have more than half the responsibility for making it happen, and the reason I haven't done so is because I have other priorities right now. At this point, I don't mind showing up to classes or socials only when it's convenient and finding that the experience isn't stellar. If and when DH and I return to pursuing ballroom dancing seriously, we will make a commitment to a class and its members. That means we will show up on a regular basis and make an effort to fully participate. I will accept invitations from any leaders who ask me, and I will probably ask the ones who don't ask first.

    You say you're too stubborn to give up because dancing is a good investment in your future. You don't have to answer if you'd rather not, but I have to ask what you expect as the return on your investment? The surface answer is probably "self-confidence" but what does that mean to you? As many people here have pointed out, wishing and hoping won't make it happen. You actually have to step out of your comfort zone to make any progress.

    As far as knowing a follower ... well, if it would help, I'm willing to PM you when DH and I go to a ballroom class and/or social. As I said above, we're not going anywhere regularly for ballroom at the moment. (If we didn't have WCS class on Thursday night, we'd probably be at the class at Imperial.)

    Hang in there ....
  15. Leon Theou

    Leon Theou Active Member

    It sounds like social dancing is actually exacerbating your anxiety. Perhaps you ought to find some non-dance setting that you can use to get more comfortable with interpersonal interaction and build confidence, which will help you should you wish to dance socially. In a previous thread, you mentioned that you were working out at a Crossfit gym. Are you still doing that? In my limited experience with CF, most Crossfitters are friendly people. Every time I have been to my box, people are always chatting while warming up or waiting for the WOD to start. I know that many boxes have parties for members as well. Try to make friends with the people who are regulars at your workouts, then take it from there.

    The other thing is that in order to succeed, you have to really want to improve your socialization skills, and you have to believe in yourself. It sounds like you have convinced yourself that for whatever reason, you cannot overcome this challenge. Start telling yourself "I can do this", and you will find that you can do it. Instead of making excuses, take ownership of your foibles. To be perfectly honest, I avoid hustle lessons, but I'll get out on the social floor for a hustle most of the time. The reason is that I know I will have more fun just making stuff up than trying to focus on dancing every figure correctly. Sure, my partners don't always follow what I'm leading, but who cares? We can just turn it into something different. It's a social dance, it's not like there is an invigilator watching you to monitor the figures you dance. I've danced fan and hockey sticks in American rumba, spin turns in otherwise Smooth waltzes. I've borrowed quickstep figures for my American foxtrot (not to mention my mixer strategy). Okay, so you don't know samba. Nothing wrong with sitting that one out. Viennese? I usually sit that one out and I know the dance. Rumba, cha cha, hustle, etc. Why not at least try? If the studio is a real problem, and it sounds like it might be, then the only options are "find a new studio", "talk to the owner about your issue", or "deal with it". I can say more, and probably will pick up tomorrow/later today, but now, my bed beckons.
  16. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Doug, I just came to this thread and I have never read your posts or talked to you before, so take this as coming from completely fresh eyes.

    Many of us have been where you seem to be now, lacking confidence in the very thing which is supposed to be building your confidence. When I first began dancing, it was because I thought it looked cool. Additional motivation for me was how many girls turned me down to dance, because I simply knew nothing.

    You said that "social dancing, ie doing basics over and over holds no interest for me," yet you said "yet another evening at a dance party was spent sitting down." The question is: do you really want to be a social dancer? Your two statements seem to conflict; on the one hand, you say you have no desire to do basics over and over socially, yet you seem frustrated that you went dancing and sat the whole time.

    I don't do many social dance parties anymore (I've met my quota by now I'm sure), but I can tell you this: sitting down is not your job, if you want to dance. My advice to ladies who ask about this is basically the same, even though socially the responsibility really falls more on the man to initiate the invitation to dance: get up and ask someone to dance. The worst that can happen is that the person says no. The lady may have numerous reasons for this, none of which should matter at that moment. Maybe she doesn't like you because you danced with her before; maybe she's having a bad day; maybe she is having some hormone issues; maybe her feet hurt. It doesn't matter, it's her prerogative.

    For a reality check: maybe 1 out of 10 women will say no to anybody because they're new, nervous, etc. However, most will say yes to a guy if he is (1) polite and in the realm of "normal," (2) a reasonably good dancer, and (3) has good hygiene. I'm sure ladies can mention other criteria, but that's probably 90% of their decision making process. By "realm of normal" I mean he doesn't act like what they would call a "weirdo," i.e., he's not going to feel them up, gawk at them, can make eye contact like human beings do, and can carry on a normal conversation. By "reasonably good dancer," I mean someone who understands basic movement, posture, and has come to realize that leading is not forceful, painful, or joint-dislocating. When you ask a woman to dance, extend your hand, smile, stand up straight, and be the confident man that you are inside. It doesn't matter if she is better than you. She still wants to be a woman; she wants to follow you and participate along with you; she wants you to be a man and allow her to feel like a lady.

    So, if you are asking a lot of women to dance, and getting turned down, try to figure out which one of the above applies to you. It takes humility to admit that we need to change things about ourselves, but it's the only path to real progress, and it's true for dancing as well. If you are not asking a lot of women to dance, then get started. Either way, the "sitting home alone" thing will not help you. You can feel sorry for yourself, and sometimes that may be just what you need to get it all out. But it won't do you any good in the long run (or much in the short run either).

    One final comment: if your desire is really to constantly learn in dancing, then get used to doing basics. More learning is done with basics than you realize. If your goal is to learn new steps primarily, then this will impede your confidence and ability as a social dancer. Have the confidence to learn a few things well, and the discipline and humility to realize that there is so much work to be done on your dancing that you do not need to move on to newer and cooler patterns and figures until there is a certain level of competence and even mastery at the "basics."

    I hope this helps, and I hope you receive it with the same sincerity that I am sending it to you.
  17. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    For most socials I have attended, #2 on your list, Josh, is true only in so far as "reasonably good" is defined as "has some basic knowledge of the dance in question and is able to lead me without breaking my arm." I've danced with guys who've had maybe one lesson, all they know of rumba is a box and a basic underarm turn, and it's "reasonably good" enough for me! I'd rather dance with a guy who only knows a couple basic steps than sit there all night.
  18. dgarstang

    dgarstang Member

    Sorry for not replying all. Still reading posts. Still considering it all.
    latingal likes this.
  19. mjnemeth

    mjnemeth Member

    Lot of good points made for you here. There is one big mistake you are making; DON'T SIT DOWN! Is there a reason you must sit down? Like no where to stand? A. it gets you noticed. B. some women may ask YOU to dance.C. you're not popping out of no where , women have seen you standing there so may be more likely to dance.

    A suggestion; Have you thought trying Argentine Tango. There is a customary non verbal way of asking for a dance. That may be easier for you. Also you must lead firmly and the follow should follow completely.
    One exercise in the class I'm taking now is to have the follower close her eyes for a dance, so she must follow.
    Also, we've been taught to look in to here eyes and she to look downward at you chest.
    If you might even be daring and find a club that teaches close embrace style.
    opendoor likes this.
  20. HappyFeet

    HappyFeet New Member

    I haven't joined this conversation (or any conversation) until now because, well, I have a fair measure of social anxiety myself, and it applies to internet exchanges like anything else.

    However, I hoped my $.02 might be useful to OP. I have found that therapy + dance is a good combination. I don't think either one would have been a success without the other, because over time they formed a positive feedback loop. When I first began therapy, change felt like the hardest thing ever and I didn't think I could do it. And when I ventured to dance socials, I spent a significant amount of time breathing deeply in the bathroom or sitting far away from the floor. Honestly, I was terrified, and I felt terrible afterwards. How is dancing just 'supposed to help' when a person feels like that? Magic?

    But the fact that I really wanted to have a good time helped me try harder to change, and with guidance, I did start to find the socials easier. The fact that I was enjoying myself more, and having to dig less deep to find the necessary courage, in turn motivated me to go to more socials, try more approaches to finding calm and confidence, listen harder to my therapist, etc etc etc.

    It's only been a year, but it feels like decades worth of growth. I used to have to try SO HARD to go into a new situation. It gets tiring to have to try that hard to do things that seem easy to other people. And to try over and over without improvement - tremendously discouraging. I felt very sorry for myself. Wanting to change wasn't enough. I had to have tools and support to change. And having dance out there, like a shimmering vision of what I might be someday....I never want to stop improving, either as a dancer or a person who (!!!) talks to people and dances with people and enjoys people I hardly know.

    Doug, it seems to me that the problem may not be which dances, which socials, which classes, what kind of dancers. It's not about who turns you down or whether or not the smooth dances are hard to lead. And people who tell you 'be confident' probably have no idea how to get you from point A (everything I dance is disappointing at best) to point B (dancing is possible and it really doesn't matter if I fall on the floor trying).

    It's not the external circumstances that are tripping you up; it's the internal circumstances. If you can strengthen yourself from the inside, the outside won't seem so inadequate all the time.
    Sania, twnkltoz, Titoxd and 2 others like this.

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