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Articles of Interest » How to Survive Your First Social Ballroom Dance

How to Survive Your First Social Ballroom Dance

Author:
Jean Krupa (Jean is the Social Vice President for USA Dance, Inc. and is serving her second 3 year term in that office. She is responsible for the programs, communications and a 11 district representation for 160+ local chapters and its members )
Date Published:
January 15, 2014

How to Survive Your First Ballroom Social Dance

Okay, your New Years' resolution was to take ballroom dance lessons. Now it's time to go to your first dance. Nervous? Absolutely!!! Admit it! You're certain you'll look foolish, say the wrong things, not get asked to dance or just be totally of out place. As a 'newbie', you are nervous for good reason. You want to fit in and do things right. BUT you have to go a dance sooner or later. Otherwise why are you learning to dance?

Fortunately, there are a lot of strategies for surviving your first ballroom social dance. Whether it's your first dance ever or just your first dance in a new city, try some of these suggests for best results:

Strategy #1: Take Baby Steps

Slowly but surely ease yourself into the ballroom social dance scene. If you're insanely nervous, then just drive by the venue without going in. Seriously, you may think that's silly, but lots of people have huge social anxiety. If you drive by the venue, at least that's something positive. You can also figure out the parking situation and where the entrance is so there are two fewer things to worry about.

The next time, gather up your courage to go in and just sit and watch. Stay for at least 30 minutes. But for the third dance evening, make a deal with yourself to ask three people to dance.

Strategy #2: Power in Numbers

Take a Friend! Anyone from your dance class is a really great choice. You can even take a non-dancing friend if you're just planning to watch. If your dance class is particularly friendly, suggest organizing a "dance outing". Get in on that!! Pretend you're 'dance-mates' are your best friends for a night. Soon you'll make lots of new friends by going to dances regularly.

Strategy #3: Look like you Belong.

What you wear says something about who you are. On your first night out dancing you will want your clothing to say, "I belong here." Find out what people wear to a ballroom social dance in your area. Ask your teacher, ask your classmates. Drive by and have a look in the window if you're employing Strategy #1. Seriously thought, don't obsess. But do get the details!!. What type of shoes? What kind of pants or skirts? Dress up or down? As long as you have basic style down, you'll feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Strategy #4: Assume Nothing

I've heard people say this about the dance scene. "Our community is so welcoming." Others will say, "People are really cliquish." Don't take any of that to heart. Your experience at your first ballroom social dance will be unique and it likely won't match what others are telling you. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel.

Don't assume people will ask you to dance. Don't assume you'll be left alone if you're feeling shy. Don't assume the etiquette will be effortless to figure out.

Keep in mind that each venue has a different flavor. Venues even vary from week to week depending on the music, the mix of people and the balance of leaders and followers. Expect to be a little confused. Expect to integrate slowly into this new social circle. Expect to get your feet (and feelings) stepped on a few times as you figure out how things work and how you fit.

And Remember……

It's not wrong to be nervous. Remember that super-nervous feeling? It only lasts for a few dances at most. In a couple of months you will be an old pro, gleefully telling your friends how awesome dancing is. And then you can help them go through their first dance experience.


See you on the dance floor ……….

Jean Krupa

Social VP, USA Dance Inc.