So many times we hear people moan about dancing cliques. The people who are seen as above themselves, who won’t dance with other people. The teachers who only dance with a certain few. Or the people we’d love to dance with but aren’t approachable and keep themselves apart from everyone else with the impression they’re aloof. But is it true or is it just perception? Are these presumptions down to our own insecurities?
So any times on forums and at freestyles I’ve read about these complaints. Mostly it’s the advanced elite dancers being mentioned – they could be teachers or not – because they’re the people that everyone would love to dance with. I know in the past I’ve mentioned this before, usually at weekenders where there’s been a posse of teachers and their friends who I’ve loved to dance with but have only seemed to dance within their group. I’m sure many of us have said this in the past or hear it said now.
I’m not sure that it’s true as much as we think. If we relate it to ourselves and how others might see us, would they be saying the same thing?
For me when out dancing I want to be able to dance with the best people there if I’m given the chance. I want to improve, I want great dances, and I want the challenge. So teachers and the best dancers will always be on my radar if they’re on the dance floor. Some might just be too scary to approach, especially if they’re there with groups and not generally working the floor.'The good dancers never dance with others' Are dancing cliques perception or truth? Click To Tweet
But surely they’re just doing what any dancers do when they’re at an event with friends? They dance with each other. They hang out together. They might go off and then return to their friends. They may just have a favourite location on the dance floor (for me it’s near a fan!).
Also, maybe they never have to ask anyone to dance because they’re the ones always being asked. So they’re out of practice or never think to do it.
When I wanted to dance with the better dancers in my past dancing years, I would aim to ask a few of the good dancers I really wanted to dance with. But some people would be hard to access and get close to. They may have a whole line of women trying to get a dance with them too. And not appearing like a stalker and just grabbing at them from the edge of the dance floor is more important than getting a dance with them.
There’s also the insecurity side of things. On a weekender or a big freestyle, you might not have the back up of knowing you’ve got all your usual dance friends with you, you might be more challenged in the dances you’re having and if you only see those aspirational partners dancing with other amazing dancers, you may think ‘they won’t want to dance with me’. It’s a protective thing because no-one wants to be turned down.
So we don’t ask, and we end up begrudging the person, even though they’ve had no conversation with you and no idea you even wanted to dance with them. I’ve always been fairly confident in my dancing, and am pretty assertive at asking people to dance, but it can be hard if you’ve placed someone on a pedestal as someone to aim for.
Over the years I got better at asking the great dancers to dance. Some are lovely, others may look you up and down first, but I can’t remember ever being refused a dance. Now, 5 years later, I have no worries about asking who I want to dance. It doesn’t matter how amazing a dancer they look, or whether they’re a teacher. If I’d like a dance with them I’ll ask, whether they’re in a group of not. Whether they’re younger than me, good looking or not.
It’s a dance at the end of the day, and most people won’t say no whoever they are.
On thing to remember is that those people in the unapproachable ‘dancing clique’ may not even know people think that about them. It always amazes me what people say when you ask them to dance, or start chatting to them. I was only a taxi dancer, but put anyone in a position at a dance class or event, with a good level of dance and people will look up to them. I always do more asking than being asked to dance, but I’ve had quite a few men saying ‘Thanks for asking, I never thought I’d get a dance with you’ and I’m no special dancer, just a former taxi dancer in my previous dance life. And I’ll ask anyone if I want to dance and I’ve not already been asked.
What I have learnt is that being in a group at dancing is great (especially at salsa where in my experience it’s always hard to get a dance with people you don’t know) to have ready dance partners to get you started. But you need to mingle and put yourself out there to get a variety and more challenging dances.
I think a lot of people’s complaints are down to insecurities and perceptions, and they’re not always accurate. I know I put a bit of pressure on myself to dance with the great dancers, but we have to accept that this won’t always be possible.
What do you think?
Do you think there are a lot of elite dancers who stick in cliques? Or is it more about others’ perception? Have you managed to break down those thoughts and find it isn’t a problem dancing with who you want? Are you a teacher – how do you encourage people to ask anyone to dance?
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