Ballroom Dance > What Made You Want To Dance?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Aura, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    hang in there Aura, time at college holds many wonderful opportunities....I'm sure many will come your way!!
  2. Aura

    Aura Active Member

    Thanks, latingal! Keep those stories comin'!
  3. BenjaminT

    BenjaminT Member

    I never danced… ever. I was too afraid.

    Before ballroom I had nothing but bad experiences with dancing. I remember during a test for Tae Kwon Do where I was commanded to dance in front of everyone. I froze. I stood there a young boy, trembling and unable to dig my eyes out of the earth. For several minutes I was braced against an onslaught of eyes and self-consciousness. Every few seconds the master would yell: “Dance!”… “Move!”… “Dance!” Seconds stretched into ages. Finally, someone lead me away and I did not “pass” the test; much to the master’s disgust. Fast-forward a few years into middle- and high-school.

    While the obligatory Electric Slide wasn’t too painful, the 8th grade dance was something else altogether. What was promised to be a trying night for one as socially inept as I turned into pure hell: bleedingly loud music, flashing lights, and a throng of “grinding” teenagers. This formula would carry on into the five other “mandatory” dances between crew, the marching band, and JROTC in high-school. These evenings were spent willing myself invisible, lamenting my lack of ear plugs, and praying that pitying girls would stop trying to drag me onto the floor. Believe me, I tried. I got as far as the edge that divided the moving from the motionless, but. I could not overcome the emotional wall that loomed over me; menacing and impenetrable. So why did I try?

    Hope. I wanted so badly the things I saw on the screen: the grace, beauty, and elegance of a man and woman moving in perfect unison. To me, ballroom is the most literal interpretation of what’s described in Genesis 2:24: “…they become one flesh.” Every exposure left me with a small prayer nestled in my subconscious, “God, please let that be me someday.” One day the opportunity came.

    In the interim, I spent five years after high-school as a mechanic with a video game addiction. While I had finally kicked the habit and gained friends, I was still woefully lacking in the social department. So, about two years ago my sister took it upon herself to try and set me up with our older friends’ daughter. Let’s face it, I’m so awkward that I make coffee nervous, I needed the help. We were all set to go on a “double date” to a small Halloween dance social. While it didn’t take long to figure out that my “date” and I were no match, I found myself falling for ballroom. I would go on to take some group lessons and found myself quickly excelling past more experienced students, but. The honeymoon didn’t last very long. Going to lessons by myself in classes primarily populated by couples in their 40’s to 50’s got really depressing. So I quit. Half a year later I would be called back, literally.

    The instructor called me after church one day and asked if I would help with a demonstration. She needed a lead to fill in for the party scene for a “Nutcracker” performance and knew that I picked up quickly. The pace and challenge of performing onstage drew me back in. So for a year I took a private lesson per week and did my first competition at Yuletide. After that experience I was hooked, but I also realized how badly I needed floorcraft practice. My current quest to remedy this shortcoming would lead me to one of the most dramatic shifts in my life.

    Over the past month I started attending the group classes and dance socials at another studio. I cannot stress enough how much of a cathartic experience this has been for me. To confidently ask a woman onto the floor to dance is something I could previously only dream about. The entire time I’ve been getting a constant stream of sincere compliments. From “having an unusually good lead” and being described as having excellent style. Now I’m going to stretch out even further.

    Last night, after the last waltz with one of the competitors, I was recommended to take lessons with the lady she takes coaching from. She expressed that she saw potential and yet it was frustrating to dance with me. My posture, frame, and style make her think I should be way better than I am. The way everything was delivered she was trying to stress it as a compliment. To paraphrase, “you look and feel like a competitor, you should dance like one.” (She’s not an instructor, already has a partner, and she doesn’t get any favors for referring me.) The lessons start in two weeks.

    Ballroom has truly changed my life. After going through many hobbies, I have finally found my passion. Now this twenty-five year-old guy is looking forward to his next competition at Philly… Then I suppose it’s time to bite the bullet and start looking for a dance partner.:D
    Gorme likes this.
  4. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Welcome to DF BenjaminT!

    What a great story! Best of luck to you in your dance journey, it's a wonderful passion to live!
  5. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    Welcome to DF! Thanks for sharing your story with us - and good luck at your next competition!
  6. Aura

    Aura Active Member

    BenjaminT, I find your story truly inspiring. The fact that a young man like yourself had enough courage to overcome your shyness is Dancing is probably one most intimate physical activity one can have with another without consummation.

    That being said, I think I'm beginning to understand what seems to be a wide-spread aversion of dancing by a lot of guys. First, it's the scary prospect of trying something new because most people I've known come from non-dancing families. This is exacerbated by bad experiences, and what I believe to be an incorrect point of view that dancing among men is "girly" or "queer". The final point would be that dancing just isn't everyone's cup of tea, which obviously isn't the case for anyone on DF.

    Anyway, I echo LG's welcome to DF. Keep dancing! :cheers:
  7. Terciel

    Terciel Member

    It's been about 6 months since I joined ballroom, and in that time, several people have asked me this question at some point or another. Yet I've never been able to figure out a really proper response, because the answer is somewhat complicated.

    This is my freshman year of college, but I know I decided to try collegiate ballroom toward the end of my senior year of high school. The simple answer that I usually give is that both my best friend from high school and younger sister both quite independently suggested it as something to do in college. I believe their suggestions were mostly in jest, and that I quite surprised them by actually taking their advice.

    I'm a physics and math person, so in high school I was very much part of the "nerd herd." School dances rather irritated me because the only thing I could do was sway in time to the music. In fact, I disliked even the idea of school dances enough that my junior prom was the first high school dance I went to. Yet I was also a pretty decent musician and "band geek" so I loved music and really wished I could DO something with the music that was playing besides sway and hum along. And the bump and grind thing that seems popular at school dances very much failed to appeal to me.

    It also happened that there were 2 acquaintances of mine who were in the graduating class ahead of me, but maintained relationships with their high school girlfriends. Both did ballroom (and coincidentally are now both at college with me) and at my senior prom I remember seeing them dancing (VWaltz especially left an impression on me) and thought to myself, "That looks REALLY cool!"

    So, I had exposure to the existence of ballroom from old high school acquaintances. But I pursued it because it seemed like an exceptionally classy way to break away from the quiet, reserved bookworm people tended to view me as. I have done marching band, Drum Corps, and (briefly) winter color guard, so I was very much familiar with moving my body in time to music. It seemed like a good idea, and oh how I was proven right.

    Ballroom is now quite literally the focus of my life outside of schoolwork. I'm almost certainly the most dedicated of the newcomers of my generation, and tend to spend roughly 20 hours a week dancing, because I legitimately love doing so. I take any silver or gold class offered, because I love learning anything new. And now that I have a partner who shares my passion, there are no limits to what we might do. I am a dancer now through and through.
  8. Aura

    Aura Active Member

    Welcome to DF, Terciel! It makes me happy to see another college freshman try ballroom. You and I are alike. I, too, was part of the "nerd herd" in high-school. I'm very bookish, and I love science, which is why I'm a Biology major in college. School dances stopped appealing to me my senior year of high school when I picked up ballroom after a year-long hiatus for the very same reasons you listed. Please keep dancing, Terciel. Our generation needs more ballroom dancers. :p
  9. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Given that the burnout thread is resurrected maybe we should look at the other side of the coin, that is why we want to dance. ;-)
    chomsky likes this.
  10. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    OK, I'll bite, but instead of why I started to dance, which was my first response, I'll answer why I continue to dance.

    As I've learned, and watched, what interests me in dance has changed.

    Freestyle dancing was a part of my life from my late teens through my late twenties. Music was the driver, and the need to move to it.

    As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the sound of salsa music, particularly salsa dura, drove me to take classes. The sounds of samba made me pester my teachers about it before they thought I was ready.

    After that, watching certain dancers inspired me to learn other dances.

    Now, it's how a dance feels with DW that makes me want to dance. Foxtrot, Salsa, and WC Swing feel the best these days, particularly if the music is right.
  11. juwest333

    juwest333 Active Member

    It started with a spur-of-the-moment decision actually. When I was a teenager, I saw the movie "Swing Kids" for the first time and thought to myself how cool it would be if swing dance clubs like that still existed (I had no idea that such clubs still existed). I had always dreamed of being able to dance like that. Fast forward over a decade later and a co-worker tells me how she went swing dancing (lindy) for the first time at a local dance venue. So I decided to go check it out for myself...and I have been dancing ever since.

    The experience....hearing the strums of the double bass, the smooth taps on the drums, the keys from the piano, the vibrant sounds from the horns, the melodies from the woodwinds, and that soothing voices from the vocalists....all while dancing on a smooth hardwood floor with a lovely and beautiful dance partner with whom you've decided to share this experience is one of the most amazing feelings ever.

    The day that I stop dancing would be the day that I pass away.
  12. dude

    dude New Member

    I saw a "dancing with the stars version" from Lithuania and was amazed how well the tall guys were moving on the dance floor. Decided to join a class. Two years later I looked in the mirror... I loved those jive kicks. When I see a couple dancing, I always watch the leader. Somehow it's more fascinating to me.
  13. chomsky

    chomsky Well-Known Member

    Excellent idea! Thanks Sagitta, I really liked this one!!!
  14. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    I've been reflecting on this a bit lately. The original reason I posted here a while back hasn't changed - I wanted to learn to waltz. Turns out, I still do...I've been thoroughly distracted by Rhythm for a while, but more and more lately I'm coming back to smooth. If USDC taught me anything, it's that I still, deep down, want to be a Disney princess.
    mindputtee likes this.
  15. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Often it takes moving away to realize what we desire is at home, to try something new to discover that what we want is to delve more into the same. In doing other types of dance I find out what it is that keeps me dancing.
  16. theAnnelis

    theAnnelis Active Member

    I'll be honest. Since I was 13 years old, I have been a hardcore Nicole Scherzinger fan. I followed her career from Eden's Crush to the Pussycat Dolls through her solo career. Then I heard she was going to be on Dancing With the Stars, only thing is I totally forgot to even watch that season (I hadn't watched it in a really long time, I think, since Mya lost to Donny Osmond...oy.). And then I saw a video of her samba and fell in LOVE. The fiery Latin entertainer in me thought, "I can so do that." The next day, I went to a studio and have been adoring the art ever since.

    Moral of the story: ignore your parents, pop fandom can have a positive impact on your life...LOL!
  17. ajiboyet

    ajiboyet Well-Known Member

    I love this! Wonderfully different!
    theAnnelis likes this.
  18. OreganO

    OreganO Member

    The first week of classes of my freshman year, I broke my arm and had to drop out of an intense, time-consuming dance piece. A girl in one of my classes was the president of the ballroom team and had been trying to convince me to join since she learned I've been training in classical ballet since I was 7. With the new spare time on my hands and a significant drop of time-consuming dance in my life, I decided to check out ballroom and got addicted. Roles have switched up and now I'm the president. Yup. Definitely addicted.
  19. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    In the theme of "what makes you continue to want to dance".. for me , the answer is that even when I feel burned out, it is not due to dancing it and of itself, it is due to other circumstances surrounding the ballroom arena. I always want to dance... sometimes how/where I want to express that changes for a period, but I always want to dance!
  20. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    My experiences with dancing prior to ballroom were pretty similar to BenjemanT's. We moved when I was in the fifth grade to a town where all of the kids had been going to school together since first grade, and I was always the "new kid". I seldom had girlfriends or dates; starting with the eighth grade I was sent to an all-boys school, and there were no girls my age in the neighborhood. I didn't come from a family with any tradition of dance; I didn't know any dancers, and this was in the 1970s when ballroom was very much out of fashion. I only ever went to a few school dances, and even when I went I didn't get to dance much. Back then, at school, dancing was something you only did with your date. If you danced with anyone else, that was tantamount to public infidelity. So a guy who went to a dance stag had little chance. (And in fact, a lot of the dances were couples-only.)

    Forward to the early '80s and college. I was always broke and couldn't afford to go to clubs much. And when I did, and tried to dance, I got tripped up by that ethic that seems to be common in club dancing that says that if you're a good dancer, you're born knowing how to dance, and if you aren't born knowing how to dance, there is no hope. So I was repeatedly told that I was a bad dancer, and after a while I just gave up. Oddly, the one place where I got something of a satisfactory experience was in (gasp) slam dancing. And the thing about slam dancing? It was mostly guys (think about it), and some pretty rough guys at that. So I didn't get the "dancing is for sissies" thing. That was never a problem for me.

    Forward to 1990. The gal I was dating at the time insisted on going to Nashville to dance in the line dance clubs. This was the heyday of line dancing in Nashville, and we wound up in one of the clubs that you used to see on The Nashville Network. First of all, I was not dressed for it. Second of all, they were doing some very complex dances at the time; lots of 64-bar patterns and traveling dances. My GF knew all of them; I didn't know any. I tried my darndest to watch what people were doing and memorize the steps, but it was all just too much. GF tried to push and drag me through some of the steps, which just made it worse. I was an embarrassment on the floor, and my lack of knowledge or skill was screwing up the other dancers during the traveling dances. Eventually she went off to dance with other guys while I sat and watched. I drove a long way, spent a lot of money, and had a terrible time.

    So I was a bit taken aback when my DW wanted to take dance lessons. Ballroom dancing? Isn't that what old people do? Paper foot cutouts on the floor? And what do I wear? I don't own a tux! I resisted the idea until we took a vacation in New York (a few months before 9/11) and saw the play "Contact", which contains a lot of swing dancing. I was intrigued, and for Christmas I decided to give DW a "present" of dance lessons. I picked a studio at random out of the phone book, called, and set up a lesson.

    I quickly realized some things that kept me going: (1) This was something fun and physical that DW and I could do together. (2) I was intrigued by the relationships between the body movement, the mechanics of the dance, and the music. and (3) I can ask other women to dance with me? Damn!

    11 years later, my relationship with dance is a lot more involved; there are a lot of reasons why I dance now. But those three above all still hold.
    chomsky likes this.

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