Re: Asking a guy to dance Posted by ExperiencedNewbie 4/26/2006 8:18:00 AM
I can think of two instances in which a man would decline a lady's invitation:
The first one is injury. I've injured my knees doing swing dancing, and when injured I'll tend to avoid swing to avoid re-injuring them.
The second one is: If he doesn't know that dance... and I'll agree that he should say so, and ask if another dance is possible.
I've been doing ballroom dancing for just under three months. I've done some international folk dancing going back thirty-five years.
Prior to taking beginning ballroom group lessons, my dance list was fairly odd by the standards of the ballroom dance community: heavily weighted toward international folk dance, pre-foxtrot, Jane Austen era and pre-colonial, even Shakespearean dance.
Being 5'10" tall myself, I have experienced ballroom dancing in group classes with several partners, most (but not all) shorter than me. I have enjoyed the dances I've shared with the one student who I know is taller than me (at least she's taller than me on the dance floor in her heels).
We've been paired up for individual dances as part of the group class setting -- as part of the partner rotation required by the instructor. I haven't been in a social situation where she's asked me to dance, but I would accept if I knew the dance. While on the topic of this one tall student, I'd like to say that in the weeks I've known her, I've seen her go from clunky to graceful in half a dozen ballroom dances.
At the newcomer level, I know perhaps a dozen ballroom dances now. I can still list a handful that I don't have a clue what to do.
I can waltz, but not Viennese Waltz. I can't mambo, samba, quickstep or jive. I swing East Coast style, and modified without the triple-step, but I wouldn't know what to do with West Coast Swing and the only videos I have found for it are at an advanced level... so I'm not ready for them yet. I'm not really confident in my Lindy Hop, Charleston of Jitterbug yet.
All my instruction to date has been American style, I know practically nothing of Internationl style. Over time, these will change.
If I was asked to dance a dance I don't know, I'd have to decline regardless of who asked me. In the reverse, I've asked for the next dance, only to have to defer because the next dance was one I didn't know.
Where I live, there are two conflicting monthly dances: the one I used to attend regularly (square/contra/round) has instruction at the beginning of the evening in the basics, and instruction in each specific dance before that dance, all evening, and instruction in the dance steps (calling) during the dance itself. In that scenario I can dance every dance.
These past two months, I have been attending a ballroom dance that has perhaps 30 minutes of lesson in the middle of a three-hour program of ballroom dance music.
I am thoroughly enjoying ballroom dancing, but I'm also giving up a lot more dancing where I'm confident and competent in order to attend the ballroom dance. The percentage of dances I can dance is going up as I learn more ballroom dances, and yet the style alone isnt the only factor that determines whether I am dancing a specific dance or not.
I'll use this example to make my point: Several weeks ago I attended a group Jitterbug class, that had open free dancing afterwards. It was my first time in that venue, and my first time with that group of dancers. I had my first half-hour of East Coast Swing group instruction literally earlier that evening -- that and plenty of enthusiasm. After the group class ended, I asked several ladies to dance with me. I kept asking, and I kept polite. It took two and a half hours to get a yes response. If I had left the venue on rejection, I would probably have never returned.
I have the analytical faculties of an Engineer: I can slice and dice this experience like a professional. I realize that the dancers were somewhat cliquish (arriving a departing in groups), had experience dancing with each other, and I am outside (older than) their age range by a decade or two. Many times I was waiting for the opportunity to ask without interrupting the ongoing conversation, only to lose the chance to another lead who would simply offer his hand to the follow and she'd get up to dance with him. I'll chalk that up to they already knew each other.
Another good thing that did come out of that evenings experience, was that I approached the lead of a very good dancing couple, and asked how long they'd been dancing, and how to learn to dance well. That lead me to additional group instruction in Lindy Hop and Charleston at my local university - even with a late start half-way through the semester!
I look forward to the future when I have a regular dance partner to practice and dance with, as it seems to me that that would be similar to when I was engaged/married in that I'd know who I can dance with, even before I know what dance is coming up. I've just compared that to knowing who you're going out with, without knowing where you're going...
Whatever we do to get past the butterflies and actually have someone to dance with is the mechanics and the enjoyment of dancing is the motivation.
In a social dance situation, I'd love to be asked to dance. Her height would not be an impediment to me - it could be a point of interest. I'm still new to Ballroom Dance. I understand the social dance floor is not the learning environment that the group class is. If I don't know the dance, I'm still going to have to decline. Ask me to dance, and I'll (probably) say yes. If I decline, I'll explain why, and the reason really won't be you. That's a promise.