To Party, or Not To Party

So you’ve decided to learn to dance. You know a couple of steps, but that’s about it. The question is do you go to the parties and nights out, or wait until you’re a better, more confident dancer? I have been teaching a long time, and have seen both extremes again and again. Allow me to share what I’ve learned by watching my students over the years, and give you some advice that should make your decision a LOT easier!

I’m going to use an example with two people, but remember, I have seen the same thing happen over and over.

Guy #1 wants to learn Salsa. We’ll call him Sal. He’s never danced, and his natural ability is, well, not that natural. He does, however, have a great attitude, and he keeps a regular schedule of classes and private lessons. Sal doesn’t know much about dancing, but he comes to the parties anyways. He dances, but usually just the basic step. But he’s there. And he’s dancing. And he’s actually having fun! (So is his partner. Contrary to popular opinion, ladies would rather dance the basic step for an entire song than to sit there wishing they were dancing!)
As the weeks go by, Sal is improving tremendously! He knows a lot of the other members at The Dance Shack, and feels comfortable dancing with them, even if he’s not perfect. As our lessons continue, his progress is incredible. He tells me how he’s been going out to different places around town and dancing, meeting people, and having the time of his life!

Guy #2 (we’ll call him Al) also wants to learn Salsa. Like Sal, he has never danced, but he seems to learn quickly and has a pretty good natural ability. He keeps a good schedule, but he refuses to come to any parties or nights out until he is more comfortable and confident. The crazy thing is, he’s actually a lot of fun to dance with! He knows the basic and a couple other steps, he has a decent lead, and he stays on beat with the music. The problem is that he doesn’t think he’s ready for “live” dancing yet. Since he doesn’t really practice what he’s learned except in class, he spends a little more time reviewing and a little less time on lead, sequencing, etc. When he finally tries to dance with someone else, she misses some of his leads. He’s able to lead his instructor, but isn’t used to the way other ladies follow, or connect. Now he’s convinced that he’s NOT ready, and again feels like he’s not good enough yet.

Do you see where this is going? The more you use what you learn, the faster it becomes “muscle memory”. The people at the parties don’t care if you’re not perfect. They’re learning too! Even if you go to the parties and do more watching than actual dancing, it’s going to help! Imagine learning to play baseball without ever having seen a baseball game. Awkward! Now imagine you’ve watched baseball your whole life. I bet when you finally try to play, it comes a lot more naturally!

Do yourself a favor. Step outside your comfort zone, and practice your basics at the parties. Even if you’re a little uncomfortable. I promise, you will get much better, much faster, than if you wait until you’re “READY”! Happy dancing 🙂

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