Have someone recently told you that you’re their favourite dancer at a congress? Maybe they told you that your dances made their weekend complete?
If ‘Yes’, congratulations! That is a very rare and special occasion. Enjoy the good feelings!
If your answer is ‘No’, this article is for you.
When we dance, most of us enjoy being complimented on our dancing. Most of us strive to give the best dances possible. This is doubly true at congresses, where the pressure to be amazing can be very high.
When we don’t get that ‘You’re awesome’ feedback, it can be difficult to feel adequate. If our friends are talking about other people who gave them amazing dances, it can be even more demoralizing.
You might even start to ask questions about your dancing:
- What do those dancers have that you don’t?
- Why don’t people talk like that about you?
- Why are you less popular than those other people??
Let’s talk about this.
1. Congresses are full of insanely awesome experiences
Remember this – it’s very important. For a single dancer, there’s usually about 1-2 dance highlights of the weekend. For those 1-2 dances to be highlights, they need to have surpassed every other dance the person had. They need to be connected, fun, to the right music, and more.
You’re probably already disqualified from being that highlight if you know the person well. While our favourite normal partners are lots of fun, it’s not the same as that ‘high’ from discovering a new dance partner who totally made your weekend.
Congresses already have a way higher level of dancing than normal. Therefore, the competition for ‘best dance’ is usually way higher. Using conservative numbers, if a person dances 30 songs a night with a total of 15 partners over 3 nights, you’re competing with about 45 people to be that highlight.
Things have to go really, really right to make your dancing a highlight.
2. It’s important to know which people you are trying to be the ‘highlight’ for.
There’s always those leads or follows that are essentially universally-loved. Somehow, they manage to be the highlight dance for a lot of people. It seems like everybody adores them.
This is misleading. Those people are an exception, not the norm. They’re probably also operating at/near a world-class level in their dancing. That’s like comparing yourself to one of the artists on-staff at the event. We all wish we were like them. But, spending your weekend upset that you’re NOT like them is a pretty shitty idea.
If you want to be someone’s dance highlight, dance with people who have less experience than you. You’re more likely to hit the ‘favourite dancer’ goal when you can lift the other dancer up to your level. That’s why pro’s are so many people’s highlights. The second most-likely highlight partners are people who dance at your level because you can have an equally-giving connection.
The dancers least likely to consider you a highlight are the more advanced dancers. They’ve been dancing longer than you, which makes them more likely to be YOUR favourite. It does, however, make them less likely to consider you THEIR favourite. It does happen occasionally, but it usually has more to do with attitude and connection than skill.
Back when I was an early-intermediate-ish dancer, I had a dance with a professional from overseas that rocked my world. One of my all-time favourite dances, ever. It was (and is) seared into my memory. Three years later, I met that same pro again – and he (quite understandably) had no idea who I was.
This is normal. It happens to everyone at some point, and it’s not a bad thing. He gave me an inspirational dance, and that’s enough. Sometimes, the biggest gift is finding someone who was a highlight of YOUR weekend – not the other way around.
You want to increase your chances of being someone’s dance highlight? Give really, really awesome dances to people with less experience than you. Engage with them completely. Give them a dance which makes them feel like the most special person on the planet.
If you’re feeling really motivated, hold on to them for an extra song or two. You’ll definitely be checking off some ‘highlight’ boxes.
3. Being told you are a ‘dance highlight’ is a special occasion, not the norm.
Stop judging yourself against the number of people who told you that you were their highlight! It’s a way to feel really, really crappy. Just because you weren’t a highlight doesn’t mean you were a bad dance. In fact, you may still be part of what made a person’s weekend awesome!
Many people can go through several congresses without ever finding out that they’re someone’s dance highlight. This happens for 2 reasons:
- You didn’t have a ‘highlight’ connection with someone
- They didn’t tell you that you were their ‘highlight’
Highlight connections are great – but they’re rare. The ones where the highlight flows both ways are even more rare. To maximize your chances for this, you really have to put in an effort to your social dancing. You need to ask as many people as possible. You need to mentally and physically engage with each dance. The more you do this, the bigger the chance you’ll be someone’s highlight.
This article is not about the technique, etc. that goes into being a great dancer. You can be a highlight for many reasons – not just how strong your dancing is. As long as you’re dancing safely, any way that you become a highlight is fine!
Further, many people don’t necessarily tell you if you’re their highlight. I once waited 3 years to tell someone they were my highlight. They had no idea, and were super flattered when I told them. Newer dancers are usually especially shy. For all you know, you COULD have been someone’s dance highlight. This is particularly true if you dance frequently with less experienced dancers.
Stop feeling down if you didn’t get that ‘highlight’ praise. The chances of being someone’s highlight is so rare. You could be competing with over 200 partners for that highlight status.
Not being a highlight doesn’t mean it was a bad dance. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t contribute to a good weekend. It simply means you weren’t a starring role. This is OK. Instead, I’d advise you to focus on YOUR highlights and what made an event special for you.
If you find it hard to enjoy an event without being a highlight, I’d advise you to look at how you can make your events better for yourself. Maybe it’s about who you are dancing with. Maybe it’s about your expectations. Whatever it is, adjust your expectations until they’re something that makes you feel elated and happy at the end of the event.
Photo Credit: Brian De Rivera Simon, Tarsipix Studios