Social Dancing Burnout

Question by User _preheated

I know that 3 months is probably still now enough to fully enjoy dancing (or is it?) but after my last social dancing night a started to feel things that are worrying me so i guess i’ll ask about it here.

I was scared to death when i had to dance before. As a both shy and introverted guy i always avoided situations where i would be expected to dance. As a musician i decided that it would be really cool idea to learn to dance to both meet new people and gain a new skill that is connected to music.

After this first 3 months of beginners and intermediate lessons i have solid basic step both on1 and “son”, it already feels really natural and just pure fun to do. I learned just enough figures to dance the whole song with at most 2 or 3 repeating combinations. My teacher admitted that i learn really fast. It made me feel really confident about myself so i quickly decided to start going to socials.

This is where things started to get hard. I got past the fear of asking women for dances early on, but i always feel like i can’t really make it seem like dance and not like just spinning around for 3 minutes. Even if i try to make it look like i have a great time, keep natural eye contact and smile a lot it just doesn’t feel right and i think that my partner can see that right away.

It’s even worse after an hour or so. I have a hard time to focus on the partner and not on my own thoughts about what’s going on right now even early in the evening but at the end of the party i’m just completely drained, i still can ask someone for dance (and i kinda have to because i am the only lead that goes to social dancing from my lessons group so i have a bunch of women to dance with and i don’t want them to feel like they were sitting for 80% of the time) but i just can’t force myself to engage with my partner. It’s just pointless spinning at that point.

I love to dance, i love the music, i love the rhythm, i love the new skills that i already learned and i’m going to learn throughout the next years. I just feel like i can’t express it enough when i’m dancing with someone and i am worried that it might be off putting for a lot of follows.

Follows – does the lead has to be expressive and “loud” with their moves for you to have fun from a dance? How does this influence your experience if a guy looks like he is not present and a little pensive?

Leads – is it easier with time and experience to be present and focused on the dance and your partner itself? I guess it’s not really a r/salsa question and more like r/socialskills one but maybe you have some thoughts, experiences or tips that you can share.

I just want to make it a fun experience for both parties.


User sillycweed   

You are totally over thinking it. Women like to dance. Period. While some are picky and elitist, many are not, especially at socials where some leads and follows are expected to be new to dancing and are awkward or only know a few moves.

If you dance with a complete beginner follow and she barely knows basic step, do you scoff at her? No, you dance with her anyway knowing she’ll get better in the future, because people are there to learn. And just enjoy the music.

Same when you feel like you aren’t up to par as a lead. Unless the follow is an entitled bitch, or you are creeping her out (I don’t think you are), don’t worry about it. One dance isn’t going to ruin their night, or yours.

At a club/bar then it’s not so… Homogeneous, so I would recommend getting more confidence before you try. But personally it’s more fun… That’s totally subjective though.

I think you are putting too much pressure on yourself. Relax. You said you’re a musician. What can someone do 3 months into a new instrument? Unless they are a genius, not paid gig quality. So don’t expect yourself to put up a paid gig quality performance dancing. In fact, never expect that unless you’re getting paid to dance. If you enjoyed it, it’s good enough. Let the ladies worry about what they need to worry about, you just do you.

User sillycweed 

Sometimes even when a woman is enjoying the dance with you, she may not have a big smile on her face. So don’t use that to judge if she’s having a good time.

As for musicality and expressiveness, that just takes more practice. For example after 3 months of guitar you’re not going to bust out a convincing Santana solo even if you can play the right notes. Expressing your emotion is another level above the technical skills. So give yourself time to get better.

User ingloriabasta 

Hi, so I am answering to your question as mainly kizomba dancer, but also introverted and shy, although I see myself as very well trained (through constantly pushing myself in that matter, I got used to much more than I had been as, say, a teenager).

– Social dancing will probably always be draining for you. Even if the night is exhilarating, you have fantastic dances, everyone loves you, you are the star of the night, you will most likely return home and need to recover for a few days because these situations are very, very dense, socially speaking (many very close interactions with many different and often unfamiliar people and high exposure, which means that you are observed by many people as well), and it is exhausting for introverts.

– The more often you do it, the less stressful it will get and the more you will enjoy the dancing. However, it will probably often have a random element- some nights you will feel in the mood and then you arrive and everything just feels wrong and you come home disappointed. Some nights you did not really feel it and it was awesome and kicked you right out of your negative mood.

– The more skillful, the more relaxed you will be, and the more you will enjoy it. However, also with good skills, one shitty interaction, harsh comment or whatever can be enough to throw you off your game.

– Try to find out what your balance is. I know many, many dancers who go out every week, often more than once a week, and for me, even thinking of doing this exhausts me. For me, once a month is enough. I love dancing, I could do it every night, I live for it. But dancing during a social, in a club, at a festival, it’s just a setting that asks a LOT from me. Find out your individual balance and stick to it.

– Build a thicker skin. Don’t over-evaluate every input, every interrupted dance, every shitty comment. Force yourself to sometimes not overanalyse the situation. On each social, you will have to create soooo many interactions with people, you cannot control it by analyzing your behaviour and their behaviour and that context. Lay out some dance ettiquette rules for yourself, rules for what you communicate when you are not dancing (but e.g., having a drink with someone), and stick to them. Then don’t allow someone to get under your skin.

For me, it’s still work in progress. I always make the mistake of thinking that the people I regularly dance with and have fun and a good time on the dance floor and in classes are my friends. They are not. They are dance colleagues. Be aware of the distinction. Do not overshare. Some people may become friends eventually, but the close physical contact makes it hard for very intuitive people (yourself, or others) to draw a line. So be conscious about this!

Edit: Oh and it is not your job to make it fun for the other person! You are a beginner, and that is alright. Learn at your own tempo, be sure to take classes and improve, know dance etiquette, don’t smell, but do not feel responsible for the other person. The arrogance of “he’s a beginner so I roll my eyes and stop after 1/2 song” is not your responsibility, it’s bad etiquette on their part. If she doesn’t have fun, she hasn’t understood the essence of dancing.

Hope that helps!!

User enetheru   

my take:

you can enjoy dancing regardless of your skill level, so the time spent is irrelevant.. but still, in terms of partnered dancing three months is basically infant stage. you currently know almost nothing.

A solid basic step, is nice, but that’s just the beginning. there is so much you can add in terms of flavour to even something so ‘simple’ as a basic step. most people think patterns and flashy stuff is where it’s at, but if you think about the learning curve of dancing you will find most people to sit at the beginning stages, so doing simple things well with flavour will reach the widest audience. You have to realise that doing something complex requires a lot of concentration, skill, effort, and most people who love to dance don’t want to spend 3 hours at a party t that intensity.. most people want easy, natural, fun dances, with perhaps a sprinkling of excitement mixed in.

The feeling i get from your description of spinning around pointlessly is the same feeling when i say a word too many times.. its called Semantic Satiation –
Spin when the music makes you feel like spinning, not just because, stick to your basic and add flavour and moves as you feel them from the music, that’s called musicality in most places. then it wont feel like you are just spinning because, but that you are spinning to express a specific emotion as attached to the music.

I suffer from a lot of dissociation due to some fairly traumatic shit that has happened to me in the past, and I’m introverted, so I also get detached and lose the connection to the room, and the music, and my partners.. so I take a break, sit do

User katyusha8   

As a follow I’m turned off by three types of leads and I don’t think you are one of them.

1) creeps. Pretty self-explanatory, but men who touch me outside of dance moves (like my face, my butt), excessive weird compliments, asking to go out repeatedly after I made it clear I’m not interested

2) men who look disgusted or bored, not making any eye contact. Why the hell did you ask me to dance?

3) bad leads who think they are amazing and try to “fix” me with ridiculous advice. Overly pushy and muscular leads often fall in this category. I’m happy to hear constructive criticism but not from someone who objectively sucks at dancing.

Being a bad lead is not that big of a deal (we all need to start somewhere) but being an asshole in addition to that is a big turn-off.

User roldarin

I use to go to latin discos, and most people dance with less figures repertoire than you learn in an academy in 3 months, some of then even in a incorrect beat, and they still enjoying a lot.

You’re completely ready to dance. Focus on enjoying the music and dancing, and confidence will come with time.

User majaestic 

I’m about 4 months in and am also a fairly introverted. For me what’s works best is:

1. have a group of friends (even just 1) I go out with – when I don’t feel like socialising in between dances I’ll have my downtime with the group.

2. Let yourself fall in love with the music. I Shazam whatever songs I enjoy when I’m out and dance to em at home. When my jam comes on at a social that’s when I have the most fun – and if I’m having fun the lady will too.

3. Set a limit to how many times you go out – as addictive as it is it’s exhausting. Once a month, once a week – whatever, just don’t overdo it. You’ll be dancing for years (hopefully), there’ll be plenty of time for socials

User SmokyBG 

It’s normal to get mentally exhausted as the evening progresses, especially when you still have to think hard to get a dance together.

Also: don’t feel you “have to” dance with anyone; yes, it is nice to support your fellow students, but in the end, you cannot be responsible for their fun.

User SmokyBG

It’s normal to get mentally exhausted as the evening progresses, especially when you still have to think hard to get a dance together.

Also: don’t feel you “have to” dance with anyone; yes, it is nice to support your fellow students, but in the end, you cannot be responsible for their fun.

User ilurkcute   

As an intermediate lead, I think you should connect to the music more. That is where the real dance is derived from to me. All songs don’t sound the same, should not be danced the same. Perhaps your toolbox is too small, perhaps you’re not creative, perhaps dance/music just isn’t your thing.

User Bento- 

Every “problem”, needs it own “tool”. And your toolbox might be a little bit too small after 3 months.
If you reached a point where your toolbox is big enough and you dont need to think about every move anymore, you can start working on musicality.

After 3 months there is now way to say; “just isn´t your thing”. If you enjoy it, keep going and you will get better in no time.

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