I’m so happy you decided to social dance. I’m so happy that you’ve decided that this magnificent world has caught your interest – and I hope it holds it. You’re going to meet many, many amazing people, have fantastic nights, and perhaps even travel to unbelievable events.
But you’re also going to be told ‘No’.
The ‘No’ will come in many forms. It may come in a head shake, a ‘No, thank you’, or a desire to get a glass of water. It is likely that sometimes the ‘No’ will hurt a little. It is likely that sometimes the ‘No’ will make you doubt yourself.
I want you to understand that a ‘No’ is rarely about you. It’s almost always about the person who said ‘No’.
If they want a drink of water, the washroom, rest, or to finish a conversation, it’s not about you. It’s simply that they need that song as a break – for whatever reason. They may not tell you that this is why they are saying no.
If they have an injury that they’re nursing or are worried about getting re-injured, it’s not about you. They’re taking care of their body. They may not know you, or the dance connection the two of you have may be bad for their injury. They may not even tell you that they have an injury, because it might be very personal.
If they just aren’t feeling the music or are in a bad mood, it’s not about you. It’s about something that they are or aren’t feeling which will prevent them from enjoying their dance with you. Trust me, it’s a good thing when someone says ‘No’ because they aren’t feeling it. It means they understand themselves well enough to not give you a shitty, disconnected dance. They may not tell you that this is why they said ‘No’.
If they are looking ‘down’ on you because you are new, ‘less advanced’ or ‘don’t look right’, it’s not about you – it’s about their attitude. Unfortunately, there are people who act like that. Luckily, the majority of dancers are not like this. They are not worth your time. Let them stick to their familiar territory, while you grow with the open and accepting people in the scene.
It is easy to mistake people for snobs if they don’t tell you why they said no.
Dear beginner, please try not to judge the people who say ‘No’. Unless they tell you, you will not know why they said ‘No’. Let them be. Sometimes, they’ll come to you later for a dance. Sometimes, they won’t. But, please don’t wait for them. There are too many other people who want to dance with you!
There are a few times, dear beginner, where a ‘No’ may be about you. These things are usually easy to fix, if you ask for help.
Someone might say ‘No’ because you smell bad or are really sweaty. Make sure that you always shower, bring breath mints, and extra shirts (if you need them). If you don’t know, ask a friend you trust to tell you if there’s something making you physically unpleasant to touch.
If you wear a lot of scented things, some people may also say ‘No’ because you smell *too* much – some people have allergies. If you avoid wearing too much scent, you may find some people are better able to dance with you.
Very rarely, there can be something about your dancing that makes people say ‘No’. Sometimes, it can be that you are accidentally hurting people with a habit. Or, you could be holding people in a way that makes them uncomfortable.
If you are worried this could be you, talk to your teacher or a trusted friend. Remember that you should only go to a dance teacher to fix the problem. Your friends can give their opinion, but unless they are a teacher, they probably cannot help you fix the problem. Usually, a good teacher can help you become aware and fix these problems pretty quickly.
There is one last thing that can make people say ‘No’ to you.
Most of you do not have attitude – especially when you are a beginner. Try to make sure you do not develop this ego. In social dancing, people like dancing with nice people. If you treat other people in the room the way that you hope to be treated, you’ll find people treating you well.
This can include asking newer dancers to dance, and to make friendly conversation with people who are not dancing. It can be smiling at your partner, or enthusiasm. It can be complimenting dancers you think dance really well.
You should make sure that you are not mean to other dancers. Sometimes, things we think are helping actually make people less happy. For example, you should never try to teach your partner how to do a move in social dancing – leave that for your teacher. If a move you know isn’t working, try something else.
The same goes for timing. If your partner cannot hear the beat and you don’t know how to help them hear it without words, dance with them instead of the music. Your first priority should be having fun and connecting with your partner!
Dear beginner, I can’t wait to see you grow. I can’t wait to see you improve your dancing, fall in love with the music, and make friends. I can’t wait to see you go to your first big event, and to watch you bring your friends to dance. I can’t wait until I see you reach out to the Newbie in the corner and invite them to dance with you.
Don’t let the ‘No’s dissuade you; the ‘Yes’s are so worth it!