Everybody wants to dance with the regulars at the ballroom dance hall - the really good dancers that make every dance look simply amazing. But getting on their radar is no easy feat. It takes persistence, experience... And most importantly, some knowledge of how dance socials work.
After all, if you want to get noticed and recognized as somebody who would make a fun dance partner, you have to stand out from the crowd. No, you don't have to strip naked and dance on the tables... Instead, you must learn to speak the secret language of "pro".
Hi guys! My name is Ian Crewe. I'm and instructor at the Joy of Dance Centre in Toronto, Ontario, and the creator of Social Ballroom Dance: Where you can learn your dance, at your place, on your schedule.
We've talked recently about the "regulars" at the dance social - the ones who have the most experience, the ones who everybody wants to dance with, because they always seem to have the most fun dancing with them.
Now, the reality is, unless you already happen to be friends with one of them, you're not going to get accepted overnight. BUT, there are things you can do can gradually make you more visible to them, so they're more likely to dance with you in the future.
One thing you can do (and I know I've said this before, but it's worth repeating): go to the same social regularly. First of all, you're getting repeated exposure to them, and they to you, so they can see you're dedicated to dancing, and are not just passing through.
And second of all, it's just good practice! If you commit yourself to going out for one evening a week, that allows you to improve on your social dancing abilities. I like to say that social dancing is a skill that can be improved on like anything else.
Now, there is a way to fast-track this process, if you have a little more dance experience. One thing you can do is start dancing with a beginner at the beginning of the evening, then gradually work your way up to more and more experienced dancers.
So with that beginner dancer, you want to acquit yourself, pull out some decent moves, but you're going to stay within your partner's comfort zone - make sure THEY have a good time. That way, you'll attract the attention of other people who see that, not only do you look good, you're making sure they look good as well. And they're going to want to enjoy a similar dance with you.
So now you can then dance with someone who's a little more experienced, and now you can pull out a little more technique, so you can attract the attention of someone who's the next level up. And in this way, you can gradually work your way up the social dancing ladder, until you're either dancing at the top of your ability, or you're dancing with some of the most experienced dancers there - either way, you're guaranteed a pretty good evening.
If you're trying to grab the attention of somebody in this upper level dancing group, you're going to want to position yourself to ask or be asked by them earlier on in the evening. The fact is you're less likely to score a dance with them once they're friends arrive, so if you talk to them earlier on in the evening, they're a lot more likely to say yes to you.
And keep them in the corner of your eye when you're dancing or if you're off the floor, so you can jump in and ask them before someone else gets to them. That might seem a little desperate, but in the ballroom dancing world, it's considered fairly natural for people to jump up and ask as soon as they can.
And by the way, regardless of whether you're a man, or a woman, or a leader, or a follower, I don't see anything wrong with going out and asking another person to dance. I've seen so many of people - usually women - who sit frustrated throughout an evening because they're hoping another man is going to come up and ask them to dance.
The fact is, this is not very empowering behaviour - you're basing your happiness on whether someone is going to ask or not. I say, take your power back! Get out there and ask someone to dance. If they say no, you can just do what the rest of us do - smile, thank them and move on. It's not personal.
Now if you do manage to get a dance with one of these dancers, it goes without saying that you should bring your A game! We'll talk about this more in a few weeks, but for now just know that good dancing is about more than just pulling out all your best moves - it's about entertaining your partner. All the best dancers recognize that, if their partner isn't happy, the dance as a whole is going to suffer. So show these elite dancers that you can speak their language, and they're more likely to want to dance with you in the future.
Now, you might consider starting up a light rapport at the end of a dance, something simple like "that was great! Who do you learn from?" Watch their response, gauge their reaction, see if they're interested in talking with you more - if they're looking around for another partner, or give one-word answers, probably best to just thank them and move on. But this gives you an opportunity to get to know them a bit better.
You might make friends with this whole group at the same time, or you might just get to know one of these more experienced dancers, but ultimately, you only need to get to know one of them before they start introducing you to everyone else.
If they start asking you what other socials you go to, or maybe invite you out for a snack or a drink after the social, it's a very good sign that you are getting accepted into this group.
And by the way, you're going to sometimes encounter groups of people who are TOO cliquey. You know, the fact is, some more advanced dancers are not very supportive of the social dancing atmosphere - they're only dance with other friends of theirs, or maybe they'll only dance with other dancers on the competitive circuit.
There's not a whole lot you can do about that. If this group comprises the whole comprises the whole upper level of dances at this venue, you might want to consider changing venues.
I know that's frustrating, the good news though is that most good dancers aren't that cliquey - they're more accepting of dancers who have a little less experience, because they recognize that a beginner dancer is just another challenge they can overcome.
So look for venues that are a little more inclusive, where's there's more exchanging of partners, and that will give you some idea of how welcoming they are towards people who are looking to dance around and meet different people.
But those are some tips that can help you network and meet the right people and get the dances that you want to get, mostly through things that you can do OFF the dance floor. In a couple weeks, we'll talk about things you can do to be a more entertaining dance partner, so people will want to dance with you more frequently. Next week we'll be talking to a dance student and how she went from being a social dance wallflower to a social dancing butterfly.
So I look forward to seeing you then. If you had any questions, you can message me on my Facebook fan page, Ballroom Dancer's Anonymous, or you can email me at email@example.com, again, that's firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing you next week, and until then, happy dancing!