Ballroom Dance > Why do women bother to learn to dance?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by KevinL, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. KevinL

    KevinL New Member

    Stereotypically speaking, in the US women love to/want to dance, and men want to avoid it.

    I constantly hear from women that they want to learn to dance, or that they have always wanted to learn to dance. I almost never hear that from men. The closest I've heard is "all the singles ads say that they want a guy who can dance, so I guess I have to learn."

    The problem, of course, is that partner dancing requires a partner, and if a woman doesn't have a partner they can't partner dance. It doesn't matter how many lessons a lady has taken, if she attends a wedding or party and there aren't any guys there who want to / know how to dance, she's stuck.

    Why do women bother learning to dance if they don't have a built-in partner?
  2. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    Women say they want to learn to dance--but when push comes to shove, they can be just as lazy as guys. At least guys, once they've made the decision to learn, actually are in it to learn. Many women, in my experience, don't really want to put in the effort they need to get better. That's why so many men here complain just as much as women do about how hard it is to find a partner.
  3. Adwiz

    Adwiz New Member

    I've noticed something interesting in this regard.

    Men tend to be task and goal-oriented. They see something like learning to dance as a mission. They commit to a plan of action and stay with it until their mission (however they defined it) is accomplished. This gives them a sense of completion and where they get much of their sense of personal fulfilment from. Like Genesius, I've found that most guys who actually start to dance stay with it and discipline themselves to excel. I think it comes from this issue.

    Women as a rule get much more of their sense of fulfilment from relationships. My take as a guy (I'm mostly guessing here) is that their desire to dance comes largely from a sense that it will enhance their strength in making and keeping relationships. It's elegant and desirable and very social, so they see it as something they ought to do to complete their sense of wholeness as a person. My experience in talking about this with a handful of women suggests that they don't see it nearly as much of a mission to complete but as a lifestyle choice. They do stay with it just like men do, but not with the mental intensity that men put towards it, even when they compete.

    An example of this is one of my coaches mentioning that his women students will often sit or stand around in groups and talk during practice time, while the men just want to practice over and over quite intensely until practice time is "accomplished."
  4. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    Hm. Yeah. 8)
  5. cl5814

    cl5814 New Member

    Yes, i agree that some women do not want to improve their dance skills since of what help is it if they (women) are gold level dancers but all the men at the social dances are bronze level dancers. The women will never get to do her silver/gold level figures, so why bother learning it. At least in a social situation. I guess the same hold true had the roles been reversed.

    The questions comes down to why you like to dance. For me it was the music and social interaction (i stare at a computer 8 hours a day :) )
  6. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I would rather see people work on the poise, balance, foot strength, etc needed to support fully developed dancing and have a chance of someday doing gold figures comfortably, than worry about the figures themselves.

    If you find someone who it feels really good to do basic material with, learning to do fancy stuff is just a matter of putting in a few months of work together, because you already have the necessary fundamentals.

    Unfortunately, many of the people in silver/gold classes are not in a position to learn what the class is teaching.
  7. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    Oh, I didn't mean those few women who actually learn to dance by going to a studio and taking lessons and social dancing and practicing. I mean the general people you run into at work or socially.

    "So," she asks. "What have you got planned for the weekend?"

    "Well, every Friday we go out salsa dancing, and..."

    "Oh, really? That sounds like so much fun! I've wanted to really learn how to dance for a while now."

    "Well, so why don't you come out with us?"

    Week One--I was planning to go out to a concert.

    Week Two--I was going to get together with some friends.

    Week Three--I'm going out of town to see some old college pals.

    Finally Week Four rolls around, she shows up at the club--she's used to sort of groovin to the music, and she's surprised that the steps aren't that easy to just pick up. And that there's technique involved. And she's like "show me this, show me that, show me everything," like she's suddenly going to absorb in one night stuff that you've been working on for two or three years, longer.

    The moment it becomes something you have to work at, the moment it becomes something that requires a commitment, she's outta there.

    Come on, guys--be honest. How many of you have had exactly the same kinds of experiences I'm talking about?

    Women talk about dancing like it's some kind of feminine birthright, like childbirth or something, part of what you just are born with as a woman. And maybe because they're used to men who feel awkward dancing, they feel more in control or whatever because they don't have the same sort of reluctance. But once a man gets a little accomplished in dancing, all of that certainty drains away. And the man is like an interloper on the fields of femininity. Women only feel comfortable with him if he's gay--so he's already got this disenfranchised club membership card. But a straight guy who knows how to dance--most women, not the women on this forum, mind you, who are the exceptions--most women freak out and run in the other direction.

    I suspect that dance has for many American women this status as an activity within which they can have their own sense of power. To mess with that power by appropriating some of it freaks them out.

    Which is why, when taking out women who don't really know how to dance, men have to be very careful--almost bend over backwards--to make the women feel safe and accomplished and like they're naturally good. Again, the women on DF are exceptions--you're all out there learning how to do it. But guys, tell me the truth. Am I exaggerating? Is it not very difficult to take women out dancing if they've never danced before and make them feel comfortable? And is it not also true that these same women feel very free and comfortable in their relationships with gay men?

    Getting back to the original question then--I'm sort of changing it. Why are women so reluctant to learn to dance when there are available male partners?
    Generalist likes this.
  8. spatten

    spatten Member

    An interesting post GR, a true web of pyschological interactions to analyze.

    I know this post will be full of generalizations - but that seems unavoidable in this topic. Many women I know, and I suspect many others, seem to be able to honestly enjoy activities at any level of profieciency without the annyoning need to progress that plagues many men, myself included. Men may not be able to enjoy dancing as easily at any level.

    I think men who get interested in dance, are get caught up with an strong desire to be a better dancer. Maybe a large part of that is comes from the need to be strong and proficient in front of women. My guess is that women aren't really in this position and only decide to really improve their dancing when they learn to appreicate what dance offers.

    I really need to learn how to quote on message boards, but until then, let me respond to your comments about good straight dancers. It has been my experience that many women melt under a good lead - regardless of the males sexual disposition. Maybe I have run into a few women who were put off that I could dance better than they -- but that seems a weak minority. My guess is the large percentage of women that "freak out and run the other way" are probably just young - but that is another topic.

  9. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Scott, all that you need to do is code as follows:

    [quote="users name you're quoting here, in qutation marks"]text you want to quote [/quote] 
    This coding, for example, would show up as:

    Hope that helps!
  10. spatten

    spatten Member

    I think it helped alot, guess I will find out when I hit the submit button! But seriously, I appreciate it.

  11. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member


    ...looks like it worked! :D

    Glad to be of assistance
  12. msc

    msc New Member


    As for the rest of this thread, it's so hard to generalize. I know quite a few women that are very advanced, yet have no partner due to various reasons that have nothing to do with the dance floor. Generally speaking, in almost every ballroom couple, the woman is better than the man (whether the man realizes it or not,) so I'm not even sure about the premise. I do think a lot of dancers, both male and female, often hit plateaus which they never escape, but usually the woman's plateau is higher than the guy's.
  13. jon

    jon Member

    Have there been any women responding in this thread yet? :)

    Women are more likely to learn the other role and to dance with each other. Women are more likely to line dance or solo dance. Seems consistent with your stereotype.
  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    One woman responded, so far. I need to go off and measure my response, but I'll be back later.
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Okay. So here's a scenario. You're a fifty two year old woman with two teenage kids and a recent divorce. You're a high powered professional with a decent sized pile of cash to spend any way you want. You also have a ton of free time in the evenings, and you've always wanted to ballroom dance. Exactly why should you NOT learn to dance? Because you don't have a built in partner? That doesn't look like an impediment to me. Just do what thousands of other self-respecting women do. Go pro-am. Spend the money, enjoy yourself immensely, and, if you're like me, go after dance-related goals with all the zeal you can muster. The generalization about women being less goal-oriented than men is just that -- a generalization, not universally applicable.
  16. SalsaGeek

    SalsaGeek New Member

    I know this too well. This happens to me a lot. Some women have no desire to stick with it when I tell them you can't expect to learn everything in one night. (This goes for men too) :wink:
    They would get frustrated and quit. I met too many girls and guys that are like that. :(

  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I honestly don't think those experiences are gender-specific. Some personalities are one way, some personalities another. There are both guys and gals who are quitters, and both gals and guys that will stick to it, to the death, I think.
  18. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    One thing to remember is that with the excepction of those dragged to a few classes by their fiancee/girlfriend/wife, most men who actually make it in the door to dance lessons have already made a very big decision that dancing is something they want to make a serious try at - they've already invested so much of themselves overcoming reflexive objections that when they do walk in the door, it is with determination.

    If they walk in to find a teacher who makes it possible for them to go efficiently from where they are to where they want to be, then they can quickly leave behind those who are less committed.

    I guess this probably isn't unique (or universal) to men, but might apply to anyone who hits that first lesson only after breaking through a number of self-created obstacles.
  19. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I agree, Chris.

    I have a close friend, a guy who was dragged to dance lessons first by his girl friend. Short story. They broke up. She quit. He stayed. But that's his personality and his experience, I think. He doesn't do anything badly, so his only option was to stick with dance at a level of commitment that enabled him to achieve excellence. I don't think his psyche allowed him any other option.
  20. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    Pygmalion uses the perfect example here. Sure, it may be much easier to have a partner but what if you don't have that option? You'll be spending months/years waiting and all the while, time is passing you by when you could have been enjoying yourself. Also, depending on your upbringing, where you live, culture, etc. also determines partnership in social dancing. Not every guy likes ballroom, salsa, etc. Not every woman wants to compete. Some people love dancing, some people would rather play football. Some people start dancing to meet a romantic partner. Some dance JUST for the love of dance. In my circles, almost none of my friends dance Salsa. Alot of the time I am the only one who does in the group but why should I stop learning? Why should I wait on a partner? Why do I bother to learn to dance? I love to dance for me. :)

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