No More BUTS: Guys, Learn To Dance!
Late one night, while visiting some friends in Paris, I ended up in a posh club right off the Champs-Élysées. My group included five lovely Brazilian models who were adept at brushing off unwanted advances from guys. By the end of the night, I'd brought each of the models into an actual dance party around the table with my fellow guys. One of the models was celebrating a birthday, after all, and who doesn’t enjoy a birthday dance? We all had a great time.
This is just one of many dance stories I’ve collected over the years. Dancing with someone is a powerful form of communication. It shows you can listen to your partner -- not just the words she says, but the way she moves. It shows a certain kind of courage and fearlessness. It shows you can enjoy and connect with music.
I’ve had the good fortune to have learned several different styles of partner dancing: Ballroom, Salsa, Lindy Hop, Blues, Fusion, Argentine Tango. I’ve gone social dancing around the world, and have shared great moments on the dance floor with people with whom I couldn’t share a single word of verbal conversation. I've seen dancing transform the lives of my friends. It just might transform yours, too, so give it a try and forget the excuses. Excuses like:
But… I have two left feet. If you were able to learn how to walk when you were little, you can learn how to dance now. Every dance style, in its simplest form, is just alternating your weight from one foot to another. In other words, dancing is a form of walking. At one point in your life, walking was a fully conscious, intentional movement, but now you can do it without thinking, right? Dancing requires a level of conscious awareness over your movement that you might not be accustomed to, but, as you did with walking, you can learn it with practice.
But… I’ve tried it before, and it was a terrible experience. Beginner dance classes are especially challenging for guys learning to lead. It’s hard to learn steps, fit them to the music and communicate it all to your partner (who is also new). This is a challenge, and not something you'll get the first time. Just smile, and ask your partner to be patient. And practice.
But… I don’t have opportunities to dance. Why do guys only dance at weddings? I’ll often see people milling around at a bar, shouting at each other over the fantastic song that just started playing. Start seeing the opportunities that are staring you in the face.
But… other dancers are so good it's intimidating. It’s easy to become a wallflower when you see other people rocking it out with fancy moves. But some of the best dances I’ve had were ones in which I used simple steps and focused on really listening to my partner. Often she will prefer that to getting whipped around.
But... it's embarrassing to dance in public. Dancing, to many people, feels like public speaking. But here’s a little trick to consider: Whenever you see someone dancing in public, take a moment to look at the expressions on the faces of the people watching. Nine times out of 10, they’re smiling.
But… I don’t have the time to learn. Try finding opportunities to practice elements of dancing in everyday situations. For example, pay attention to how your weight is distributed as you wait in line at the store, or download some good songs so you can rock out while walking down the street. Learning how to dance is something that pays dividends your whole life. Why not start now?