General Dance Discussion > When does social dancing get easier?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by JustLiving08, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. JustLiving08

    JustLiving08 New Member

    So my biggest obstacle in learning and improving in dance is social dancing. I don't really like it, do I enjoy it? meh... I suppose. I've been dancing on and off (mostly off) for 2 years. The majority of it comes from private lessons. I'm very much aware that if I want to get as advanced as I want and/or make full use of my lessons I need to get out and dance... but I don't. Or I do, but it's rare.

    The anxiety that comes with it just doesn't make social dancing worth it to me. It's been 2 years and I'm still struggling with this, so seriously... does it get any easier? I feel like in order to get into social dancing or to enjoy it, I have all these rules. Half of the rules contradict each other so in the end, really the rules are just excuses.

    There's a social dance tonight that I had planned on going to but right now, all I want to do is chill and relax at home. (This dance is once a month thing too, so if I miss it today my next opportunity to go will be next month.)

    I'm sitting here trying to convince myself to go, and even though the pros outweigh the cons, the desire to stay home is just too great. :(
  2. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    What rules are you talking about? Are you a leader or a follower?

    Speaking as someone who used to get sick to my stomach (from nerves) before lessons and social dances--yes, I ended up worshipping the porcelain god--yes, it does get easier.
  3. JustLiving08

    JustLiving08 New Member

    I'm a follower.

    My (crappy) "rules", but not really (mostly my issues with social dancing)-
    I'd prefer to be anonymous... except after 2 years and cycling through 9 (if not more) instructors, being anonymous is pretty hard.
    - Contradiction: I would love to know someone already there, preferably not one of my instrucors. I have found 2 dance partners, but I've realized that knowing someone there helps, but also makes me a ton more nervous. I don't expect to dance with my partners all night, so we do break apart and dance with other people. The problem then becomes... well, what if I'm not dancing? I don't want to sit out and look like a loser while my partner is dancing away (and wondering why the heck I'm not dancing) for several songs in a row.

    I hate when my instructors ask me to dance, I feel like it's mostly a 'pity' dance. And I hate when I see my instructors out while I am because it makes me that much more nervous. I know they're out there dancing and having a good time themselves and couldn't care less about what I'm doing. They're there to dance and have fun, not judge/critique/teach. I know that, but it doesn't ease my nerves. I've been known to go to a dance, see a few of my teachers there and then leave promptly right after because my nerves get the best of me.

    I hate not being asked to dance, even though I feel like I'm doing everything right. (As in, standing in the right spot, wearing the dance shoes, smile, make myself look approachable, etc.)
    - Contradiction: I'm willing and have been known to ask people to dance when I get desperate enough, I still hate it but I'll do it if I absolutely have to.

    I hate going alone, but I have to because I haven't yet made any dance friends.
    - Contradiction: I'd rather go alone, because well.. see the first one. One of the things that eases my nerves is that I don't have friends there. People may recognize me, but we're not on a friend level, or acquaintance level. It makes it easier to convince myself they're not judging my dancing or me.

    Really though, what it boils down to is I just feel really uncomfortable. I'm constantly worried about being judged/critiqued. Which is stupid because really... who cares? I understand that most people there aren't watching me anyways (I'm not at that level where I draw people's gazes). I'm not that important. =P But still... I'm scared and I don't like it. Really, I just need to learn to get out of my head and just start enjoying myself. It's rare that I'll walk away from a social dance feeling really good about it. But like I said, it's been 2 years now... if I'm still like this in a year, hell even 6 months then I don't know what I'm going to do.
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    dance only magnifies our doesn't really allow us to escape them...if you are not confident or comfortable in your own skin you will have to begin to start asking yourself how to do that first...b/c that is the only way to leave all of the inhibitions at the curb...IME part of being able to do that is simply to get a little tougher on yourself and get over it...not easy, but the only way I know
    manteca likes this.
  5. JustLiving08

    JustLiving08 New Member

    I know. I just wish it was that easy (easier said than done kind of thing). I've been asking myself and forcing myself to be tougher for the past 5+ years.

    Not using this as an excuse, but I suffer from depression and have anxiety issues. I can honestly say that dancing makes me happy, if only temporary and I love and look forward to all my lessons and practice sessions with my partners. But social dancing is whole other story, no matter how often I force myself to go... I just don't enjoy it. :(

    I'm optimistic that I'll figure all this out soon... or at least I hope I do because I really do want to improve and get really advanced. I just wish I knew how to get over this...
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I didn't say it was easy...simple...but not easy...there is a difference

    as to depression and anxiety, managing that really is important however you manage that outside of dance...

    you mentioned you've been through quite a few instructors as well so I wonder about whether the lessons are also an issue...that is alot of instructors in a short period of time...

    as to social is a different dynamic than a lesson, socially no one is obligated to be courteous to you...additionally most of them will also have their own insecurites and dance limitations....

    sometimes you just have to accept the "non-ideal-ness" of the situation, or grow, or stop putting yourself in the situation and instead stick to dance scenarios that don't un-hinge you as much...I don't see any secret cure other than internal fortitude and reasonable expectations for this one...I think most folks go through this ....good luck
  7. JustLiving08

    JustLiving08 New Member

    Yeah, I'm not sure why I brought those two issues up... kind of want to go back and edit it out as it's not really that important.

    Well, most of the instructors I took from at the same time. At one point I think I had 3 instructors? Each one focused on a different dance. What can I say, when I first started I dived right in and wanted to learn as many dances as possible and learning 3 dances in one hour wasn't ideal so I figured ... hey, I can take from 3 different instructors and that way I can also split my dances up. I also jumped from studio to studio, taking advantage of their new student packages... so that added to it as well. I usually stay with my instructors for quite awhile. There are a few though that I didn't click with, so once my sessions were over, I didn't continue with them.

    Anyways, I do plan on figuring out which instructors exactly I want to stay with. It helps that I've decided to focus on just 2 dances now versus 5 or more from before. I guess reality has hit me more so now, than before.
  8. DrDoug

    DrDoug Active Member

    The feelings and thoughts you describe sound like "social anxiety". You could poke around on the web and see if you can find a therapy program or support group near you. They would help you become more aware of the negative thoughts that keep you from going and having a good time, manage the physical discomfort and begin to desensitize yourself, set some goals, and ultimately at least tolerate if not enjoy going out dancing. One source of information used to be www . shyness . com, but I don't know if that still works.

    If you can't find a group, a clinical psychologist would be an option. Self-help for social anxiety is possible, too, though difficult. One step you can take right now: reread your second post above and see how many times you say something negative about yourself, i.e., something that might annoy someone else if you said it about them. Then give some serious thought to whether and why it's necessary for you to put yourself down in that way. Could you say positive things about yourself instead?

    Be patient; overcoming shyness or social anxiety is hard. (It took me a number of years.) Good luck!
  9. JustLiving08

    JustLiving08 New Member

    Yeah, already know I have it and I have already done tons of reading up on it on my own among other things. In fact, my social anxiety (despite what it sounds like in my first post), has greatly improved in the last 2-3 years. I only put anxiety and not social anxiety because well... I didn't want to get that specific. That and I figured if you know what social anxiety is, you could probably already pick up on it from my second post alone.

    But I am curious... you said it took you a number of years to get over it. Did you start dancing during or after you had overcome it? I would love to hear your experience, especially if you struggled with SA when you started dancing.
  10. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    vodka helps. :)
  11. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    Yeah, it sounds more like a social anxiety thing than a social dancing thing. You're thinking too much about "rules" instead of just going and enjoying yourself, which is typical of any social situation for me until i get comfortable (I have a bit of social anxiety myself, which is probably surprising to people that see me out, as I've learned to fight it by overcompensating.) Maybe a drink before going? :p It's hard, but you're going to have to just force yourself not to "think" so much and instead rather just go "do."
  12. JustLiving08

    JustLiving08 New Member

    Oh trust me, that option is always in the back of my mind. lol
  13. JustLiving08

    JustLiving08 New Member

    I'm so relieved to hear people here have SA and are dancing! Gives me hope. =)
  14. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    (I'm a leader.)

    It's hard until it's not.

    It helps to build relationships with people. Even though you go alone, are you starting to see some familiar faces? Have you tried dropping in on some group classes? Do you participate in mixers? Have you gotten involved with any competitions and started to recognize fellow competitors? Heck, even just commenting that there's a nice variety of snacks, to someone who approaches the snack table at the same time as you, can sometimes get the ball rolling.

    It was not easy for me to gain confidence as a beginner social dancer. I didn't know anybody, and I had nothing to contribute in terms of dancing ability. Happily many members of my local dance community (and I bet yours, too) are supportive and encouraging with new folks. The ones I encountered ranged everywhere on the spectrum between fellow beginners and top-level pros. But I had to get out often enough to be recognized, and dance enough for them to have a chance to find me; and probably the same is true for you.

    As Fascination mentioned there are also plenty of people who have their own worries, don't feel particularly outgoing towards newcomers, are rude, etc., etc. But there often are a fair number of sincerely nice and welcoming people out there. Give them a chance to see who you are and introduce you to the rest of your local community.

    I can't promise that will work out swimmingly. But I don't see how it could work out at all if you stay at home.
  15. JustLiving08

    JustLiving08 New Member

    Yeah, I go alone but I see familiar faces all the time. In fact, people recognize me as well. As for competing, don't really have any interest in that at the moment.

    What's funny, I'm pretty sure I went to a dance and spent over 2 hours chatting and talking to people versus dancing, lol That seemed to be a lot more relaxing and less anxiety provoking than dancing. I felt more comfortable chatting up random strangers and making small talk than dancing, which thinking about it now is kind of ironic, haha. I'm definitely meeting lots of new people, and I'm sure I'll continue to get to know them as time goes on. Maybe eventually, I'll have found myself some dance friends and it will ease some anxiety... maybe, we'll see. :)
  16. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I think you're still sufficiently anonymous. No worries.

    Without meaning any sort of judgment, the 9 teachers in 2 years makes me wonder. And your fears, which you said you know aren't real...perhaps you should look into social anxiety disorders, and see if that's something which applies to you.

    I don't know what to tell you that you don't already know already. *hugs* I will ponder this, though.
  17. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    OK, so this is what I get when I go away from the 'puter for a while and don't ******* before posting.

    ...what they said... :D
  18. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    There is addvantage to going to studio that has a bar right next door. :)
  19. JustLiving08

    JustLiving08 New Member

    Yeah, no need to look into it. 100% I've got it and I've been trying to overcome for about 5 years now. =)

    You know, I never thought twice about it until it was brought up here. So now I'm making a list of each instructor and seeing how long I've stayed with each one, lol It doesn't look too suspicious to me... also taking into account the reason why I left.
  20. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    9 in 2 years just seems high to me. I stayed with my first BR teacher for 2+ years, and my AT teacher (not my first, but that's b/c he was in Buenos Aires...that's not exactly practical for weekly lessons) for 3+ years. Not a lifetime, but still. Granted, "anecdote" is the the singular of "data."

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