If you are like most single people these days, you have a profile on Plenty of Fish and have gone on a few dates to meet a stranger whose online profile did not reflect reality. Among all the ways to meet people, partner dancing is, by far, the best.
First, the risks are low. With dance, you are meeting that stranger in a bar like On The Rocks where bouncers are ready to help out any young lady or gentleman with an unruly patron. There is also no social stigmatism if, when asked to dance, you say no. Compare that to a scene in a cafe if your dear date is, at first glance, clearly undate-able and you decide to walk out seconds after walking in, having wasted all that time getting ready, driving to the cafe, paying for a drink etc. and now have to deal with the online aftermath. In a dance situation, you just turn around and ask someone else if they would like to dance.
Second, information about your dance partner is readily available and clear. Unlike a coffee date where both parties show only their best side, partner dance weeds out those, especially men, who don’t have a tolerance for failure, over-estimate their abilities or take themselves too seriously. As I have written about before, men have a steeper learning curve and if that man doesn’t show up week to week, then you have learned a lot about them. If their attendance is inconsistent then maybe he travels a lot, has kids, multiple girlfriends, takes the easy way out, or is resistant to learning new things, whatever it is, it’s a sign. You can also ask other follows about them. A mark in favour of a dance partner is one that shows up consistently, and dances with a wide variety of people at all levels and body types.
You can also see how they interact with other people:
- Do they flirt incessantly?
- Are they courteous to the house staff? Other dancers?
- How do they treat their friends?
- Are they inclusive or only talk and dance with the same people?
Trying to talk to someone in a loud bar where you can barely hear them is, although counter-intuitive, a perfect setup:
- Instant privacy – because the music is loud, nobody can hear the conversation
- Smell – to be heard, you have to lean close.
- Something to do – If you like the person you can ask them to dance, and if you don’t, pretend to get water or go to the bathroom.
Once you end up dancing with someone, how they dance with you is a message full of information about their personality.
- Do they take care of themselves?
- How fit are they? Did they put effort into their appearance?
- Are they thoughtful?
- Did they change their shirt after soaking the first one through? Are they into the dance with you, or just looking around for the next one? Do they try to protect you from other dancers? Do they walk you off the dance floor after, helping you down over that step? Do they give you an opportunity to shine as well as show off their stuff?
- Are they respectful?
- If they are too close and you give a gentle sign you want more space, do they listen? Or even better, do they give you lots of space first and then slowly gauge your resistance to getting closer?
- Do they have a sense of humor?
- Do they laugh off mistakes, or take it personally?
- Are they elitist and non-inclusive?
- Do they only ever dance with the pretty young ones? Or the people from the dance company they favour?
- What do they say to you during your dance?
- Are they the non-communicative type? Or endlessly shallow with comments about how “You are so hot looking!” or worse “Isn’t she hot looking?” Are they pushy? Complain endlessly? Constantly correct you?
Third, there is a constant influx of new people, for example, just attend a few of the introductory dance lessons at On The Rocks for a few Thursdays and the fifty people who show up are almost always different. Better yet, I have found that each dance type has an almost completely different community. If you don’t like the salsa crowd, try the swing/blues crowd, or the tango crowd. There are a few people who cross into multiple communities, but they are rare.
There are negatives to meeting people through dance and it mostly has to do with crappy leads. Many leads are off beat, too rough, don’t take personal hygiene seriously, drink too much, assume that dancing close is a right and think they know better. Male leads noticeably prefer younger women and even great female dancers over forty can be left waiting for a dance. The ratio of leads to follows is also usually in the favor of the leads. Another negative is that the dance world is pretty small and if you break up with a partner who is also a dancer, you are going to run into them again and again. Getting stepped on with heals is a hazard, especially in Salsa, and if you are short, getting bumped is a problem.
To summarize, risks are low, information about the person is readily on display, different dance types have dance communities largely made up of different people and the negatives can be mitigated.
To give this article balance, in the comments section, leave a description of the worst dance you have ever had!
Hi Sean, was it the first time you danced with the person? Because I’ve had countless unmemorable first dances with fantastic dancers… it just means you need another 2 or 3 to get what the other person is about…then that is when you have your fantastic dances.
I find it rare to have an amazing dance the first time you dance with someone :). It happens yes…but certainty not all the time.
Aww, Sean. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I always enjoy dancing with you 🙂
It was late, most people had gone home and only the hard core experienced dancers were still hanging around. The night had been memorable because, unlike most out-of-town instructors, both of them had stayed the entire night to social dance, and they were fantastic. She, in particular, was a great height to lead, obviously very talented, smooth and so beautiful as to make me nervous. And we had an audience of some of the best dancers in Edmonton standing around the now sparsely populated dance floor just to watch. The song, unfortunately, was both fast and the beat muddled enough that I could not, for the life of me, keep time, even on one. After about the fifth time I lost the beat and kept doing crappy off-time patterns, her facial expressions went from pleasant to confused. Besides getting more nervous, having an audience and continuously loosing the beat, the dance studio floor was slippery, and a flashing mood light kept blinding us both. I had been dancing at least seven years by this point and had many, far better, dances under my belt. At the end, she was gracious, but I was so glad it was over, now dripping with sweat and quickly made my dejected way out of the dance hall. I didn’t drop her, there was no screaming, or blood, but it was frustrating that a potential great dance with a singular follow, never happened.