I'm 62 years old and I'm a newcomer to ballroom dancing. I knew not one step. 5 months ago I decided to take lessons. I started with slow dancing because that's what I wanted to learn then it snowballed from there to other dances. The problem is, dancing is very difficult for me but I love it. It has become a passion for me. However, I've walked out of group lessons twice, I quit twice, this being my second. I know the basics to several dances but a lady left me on the floor one time because that's all I knew, I've stepped on woman's feet; in group lessons ladies are unable to learn with me as a partner because I'm unable to get the steps or movements sometimes. It's just becoming a stressful rather than an enjoyable thing. I also see other men dance so well and it depresses me knowing that I can't give that dancing enjoyment to a lady because of my ineptness at dancing. I always feel that the ladies would rather dance with an experienced partner rather than someone like me. It has come to a point that when a lady asks me to save a dance for her I just don't dance at all and if the lady is very attractive I just won't bother to ask her for a dance. Although I'm 62, I'm a nice guy, I'm well liked at the dance clubs, I'm not bad looking for my age and I dress well. I just can't dance and I really enjoy the Waltz and Swing. Sigh....
Don't be depressed and don't quit. There isn't a single person who didn't start where you are. Every lady you've danced with has been a beginner. I'm sorry there are rude people out there. DOn't let them take your dancing from you.
I have danced for a long time. In that time I've learned that dancing has a steep learning curve. There are some things that are so hard to learn and look so easy it's nauseating. There are times when I feel like I'll never get anything and then...a breakthrough.
You haven't been dancing very long. Especially since you've quit twice. Men have so much more to learn than women and it takes longer to get to that first magical place because of this. Get back in the game. Don't dance with rude women and the women who ask...dance with them. Tell them how you are feeling and ask them questions about your dancing that can inform your progress. More dancing=faster progress.
As far as stepping on a woman's feet....the truth is that everyone steps on someone's foot once in a while. It's an occupational hazard. I've had pros who have done it and amateurs who have done it and to be brutal, I've stepped on my own feet and grazed skin off with my heels.
In group lessons....a woman should know her own movement well enough that your own ability shouldn't be keeping her from learning. I've danced with the gamut from good to bad to inbetween and I've learned the most from the 'bad' because I've had to be strong and really know my own part. I can tell you a ladies part and a man's for most bronze level steps because of this.
One last thing...and I don't know if this is any help at all. The best leads in my experience are the confident leads. The man can make up a step and do bizarre things that have nothing to do with any recognized patterning or footwork, but if he is confident and not wishy washy with his lead then it is a simple matter to follow. Know where you want to go and go there.
I am a lady only a few years younger than you who has been dancing for a little under a year. I still very much consider myself a beginner in many ways; however, my skills have improved a great deal since I began and I have taken private lessons in speciic dances for about six months. I have found that, although private lessons are much more expensive than group classes, they are worth their weight in gold, and make a huge difference for many people, so this is something you might want to consider.
I understand your frustration when ladies let you know in one way or another that they do not want to dance with you because of your skill level. I had this happen to me early on with several "gentlemen" who made no bones about being frustrated with my lack of knowledge of more advanced steps. Many of those same people are now happy to dance with me, but I still remember the embarrassment I felt in the beginning. This was perhaps amplified for me because of the fact that, as a person who had done other types of dance over her life, and also a great deal of nightclub "freestyle", I considered myself quite the dancer when I began at my dance studio and figured learning ballroom would be a piece of cake. It was quite the humbling experience in the beginning!!
I do have one comment with regard to your being reticent to ask "very attractive" ladies to dance, or not wanting to ask somebody whom you see has a higher skill level than you. Although I know you have experienced what I can only categorize as rudeness on the part of some ladies (I would NEVER leave a man standing on the floor in the middle of a dance because he only danced the basics) - but please don't make assumptions based on these criteria. As my own dance skills have greatly increased, yes, I admit that I sometimes now feel a little bored when I am asked to dance by a gentleman who is obviously a complete newcomer, and frustrated by the "two left feet" thing, especially if it is a dance that I have learned really well and love, such as the smooth dances. Also, although I am no spring chicken, I am generally considered very attractive for the age I am, and I have experienced situations in which men I would have loved to danced with and get to know better have avoided asking me because they saw I could do a particular dance really well and they were afraid they would look silly to me. I would not have looked at it that way, and when I DO get asked to dance by such gentlemen what I generally do now is think of it as a good chance to review my own basics and perhaps even help another dancer along a little bit. Sometimes, too, these men are fun to chat with while dancing. Since they are not very advanced they are not concentrating on all sorts of different patterns and it can feel relaxing. And just because a lady is "very attractive" does not mean she is going to laugh at you or put you down. Yes, I know it has happened to you, but when a person behaves that way, just remember that they may be attractive on the outside, but not on the inside and don't feel bad about yourself.
As far as stepping on a lady's foot, I can tell you that I will always fondly remember the time I stepped on my own foot while trying to learn Viennese Waltz.
Don't get yourself down. We have all been beginers thinking at one time or another we cannot dance, but the truth is you can. Eventually, everything will fall into place and you will wonder why you were getting upset at al.
I have been dancing for a while and can tell you there is a learning process and how fast or slow you progress through it doesnt matter.
Dont let anyone take dance away from you. There is a dancer inside and one day it will come out. Trust me! Keep smiling :)
I'm sorry you are not happy but I do have a few questions. What happened to your partner when you left the group lessons? Did you leave her without a partner for the rest of the session. Also, are you moving up without mastering the basics? I have seen men take our beginner level and not get a single basic step. Their pride won't allow them to take the level again so they move up. Their partner expects them to know the basics and when the men don't, the women are upset and leave. Take the beginner session as many times as you need to and if you have a partner who is also new to dancing you should not have a problem. When you ask a lady to dance, explain that you're a beginner and then don't apologize a hundred times when you make a mistake. Be pleasant throughout. It is no fun dancing with a beginner who scowls through the whole dance. I don't know if any of this applies to you but keep dancing, it will get easier.
Same thing happened to me, the dance floor can be a cruel place for beginners. For me, it's the other way round. My dance class are all females, and even my instructor is a female. We sometimes get the more advanced gentlemen to come in to help out, but I got the feeling that they don't like to dance with us because we don't have the skills. However, what we can do instead of giving up, is to hang in here, and learn as much as we can from all the sources that we can get our hands on. And of course, practice, practice, practice!!! Once in awhile, go out for social dancing with people who are lower level than yourself, or don't dance at all, so that you can show of for a change. This may boost your ego and get you back into the dance studio with much more confident!
Do NOT, repeat do NOT, give up and I say this smiling. Get out there and keep asking, keep trying and eventually your physical "muscle" memory of what steps, figures and such you love to do and that come easier to you begin to take over. As for being left on the dancefloor - unless you were totally crude and offensive - it is her loss - as it is time on the dancefloor to dance. And take the attitude that "the only thing they can say is "no" ". I speak from experience of being the follow to a really really poor but really nice guy lead. It took him months and months to get a pattern he could handle in a social setting - him being in his late 50's. Now, all the ladies ask him to dance because he will not say no to anyone - even a beginner "newbie". Take the previous posts, put on your dance shoes, and get out there. No worries. oh, one last note: group classes are just that - groups with a garden variety of personalties. Take it one class at a time, nothing is nicer than a patient lead to a follow.
I'm the same age as you and understand your frustration.Over the last year and a half I have had many thoughts of never getting the hang of it and have wanted to give up. Fortunately I have had a lot of encouragement from instructors, my wife and other students and I'm enjoying it more each time I go. There are still days when things just don't go right and I have noticed that even more experienced dancers have some bad days. Take advantage of every opportunity to practice, participate in group lessons and take some private lessons. It will definitely pay off.
As others here have said we all started at the begining like you and I. So far my only regret is that I did not start sooner, not because it would have been easier, but I missed some opportunities to enjoy dancing. Don't give up.
Have you tried to do sequence dancing first? It easier to learn than ballroom, but most of the dances are based on ballroom or latin dances. You can pick up the steps of the sequence by watching the couple in front as you dance along (everybody dances the same steps at the same time). And many of the dances are demonstrated on YouTube these days. Try it, and I'm sure you will find that you will be able to progress to doing "proper" ballroom and latin afterwards.
Don't give up. Be honest up front about you being a raw beginner and don't worry about how long you may have to keep calling yourself that.
Keep taking the basics class, over and over and over again if you need to, each round, work on another small bit of what you are learning.
I have taken our basics class five or six times now in Waltz. Every time I work on a different aspect of MY part of the dance. Each time, I get a bit better and more men in class are glad to get me as a partner.
I try to say something positive and encouraging to each partner, especially if they are newbies.
Sometimes the guy will say I am the first partner they have had who let them struggle to lead without trying to "help" them.
Each class I am the person who learns most from my partners.
I have taken the mid level class twice. Each time I have found spots where I need more work on the basics and I return to a basics class.
Build a foundation well and eventually you will be good on the dance floor.
These are all very good tips for you. I particularly like the "confidence" tip. I agree. I teach beginners in my hometown and I tell the men that when you lead a step/pattern commit to it. Try to avoid "starting and stopping". Otherwise you send mixed signals to the lady. I also agree that you might want to invest in some private lessons with an instructor you feel comfortable with. This will allow you to work at "your" pace with as much repetition as you need. You can learn good/strong "leading" skills with someone who knows how to do the steps. And, if a partner is an experienced and "polished" social dancer they should dance at your level rather than walking away because you may not be proficient in certain patterns. I commend you for getting out on the floor. Keep up the good work!
Please, do not quit!!! If it is your dream - just go for it no matter what ! I agree with all of opinions below, you shouldn't give up. Dancing is so beautiful........and you should feel that beautiness inside of you...it is not always about how you look outside. I saw a lot of beautiful women who were wearing very expensive gowns, great make up , they paid thousands dollars for lessons and competitions ...and what.....they looked not "real" on the dance floor because they do not feel that ! Money, gowns, make up don't help as long as you are not beautiful inside..... I also had hard time...that is why I know what I am talking about.....It always was my dream but I never could afford that or I never had time...there always was something else. I moved to the USA eight years ago without knowing even one English word. After two years of being here I was very, very sick - I almost died. When miracle happend - I decided that I want to try what I was dreaming about all my life....so I started to take lessons. But because I was 240 pounds heavy, I was driving 2.5 hours away from my city to get my lessons just because I didn't want anybody to see me..... After awhile I recognize that I am in love with dancing and I really don't care anymore what somebody think about how I look because I felt that beautiness inside of me.In one year I lost one hundred pounds !!!. I reached so many goals !!! Dancing gives me happiness and strenght for every day life !!! I met wonderful people. If somebody is acting as you described - not you should feel bad - that person should. That means that she/he shouldn't be on the dance floor! Do not feel bad about stepping on somebody foot during the dance - if it happens just try to joke about it - well, accidents happen. We can not learn without them ! Nobody is perfect ! If I came to the USA from Poland at 32 years old with two luggages and 10 years old daughter with me without knowing anybody, without any money, without knowing even one english word, if I could change my live in so many ways - you can do that, too. Please do not give up. Our lives are too short to complain about somebody who doesn't know how to be nice to others. There is nothing wrong with you. That is something wrong with them. I wish you the best and good luck on the dance floor !!! Krystyna
Let's say I'm over 50...I started dancing a few weeks ago.I've always had a drean to ballroom dance and I am living my dream.I know nothing except a few basic dances.I've been told I have a natural body for dancing and the moves come to me so natural.My husband has no desire to dance and no bonce in his step,and is very stiff.I don't know how to help him and I'm not going to let his two left feet stop me from going on with my dream.Lift is to short to wait for tomorrow.My dream is to dance every dance and I encourage everyone to do the same.We can't learn if your not on the dance floor.
Every one who dances has probably had the same feelings from time to time some quit and some don't.
I think someone has to honestly appraise what they're doing, why they're doing it and what options are available to them on a practically constant basis. I have seen a few rare people who probably never be able to learn to dance for one reason or another. Some people simply have no sense of rhythm. So first look at yourself and be brutally honest. Do you have any particular handicaps? My hearing is damaged so I have to be very aware and attentive to the music you may have some other problem. Do you find group lessons distracting? Try a couple of private lessons and see if that works better. I think one of the most important things is to find teachers with whom you are comfortable.
Personally I feel, looking back on it, that I didn't learn to dance very well at all until I started getting private instruction but different things work for different people. There are some dance instructors whose teaching methods are better for me than others. Don't worry I'm not breaking any elbow joints patting myself on the back about what a great dancer I am!
Are you trying to bite off more than you can chew? I found that if I tried to learn more than one or two dances at a time I generally get very confused when I was beginner. I still try to work on only one or two dances at a time but I can "brush up" and add a step or two to other dances now while I'm doing it.
The others have given some good advice! Mix private lessons with group lessons. Take what you've learned in group and get the individual attention you need to perfect the move(s) with a one on one private lesson.
As for stepping on feet. I'm a Bronze level heading to Silver level competitive dancer. If I don't nail myown big toe once a month I feel lucky!
I too was in your shoes, but got the depressed feeling later on. I would get angry with myself for making mistakes. The more I worried about making mistakes the more I made. Dancing wasn't as much fun. I decided I needed to quite or start over and go into private lessons to get my confidence back. I went with the later and now I'm a competitive dancer.
Oh and those mistkes.... EVERONE MAKES THEM! It's up to you to laugh about them and move on.
Struggling to learn is no more depressing than forgetting stuff you learned when you were younger! So we're all in the same boat. You should be thrilled that you have discovered an activity that is a lot more fun than people who don't dance will ever realize. Forget about your skill level for the time being and think about the other numerous positives -- it's great for your weight, your blood pressure, and your overall muscle tone and posture. Stick with it for the next 20 years and you'll still be around to post your thoughts on dancing website chat rooms. Pick another hobby like drinking and watching TV, and you're not likely to be around to complain about anything in 20 years. Stick with it. Believe it or not, it all suddenly clicks in at a moment you least expect it. And then you realize there are numerous more "clicks" to try to master!
Congrats on finding your love of dancing. No one is ever at an age where they can't learn and reap the benefits of being a good social dancer. And it's a known fact that men that can dance are in short supply and you will soon be sought after by many of the same ladies who you are struggling with on the dance floor. My advice is to, especially at such an early stage of your dancing, definitely take some private lessons from a well-qualified instructor. you need the personal attention to help you overcome the problems that arise in learning the fundementals. Group lessons are an important part of learning steps and practicing with others but without one on one attention, you could be practicing bad habits over and over until they become hard to break. Other than that, I wish you encouragement to continue enjoying your new life as a ballroom dancer. The hard work will be worth it once you pass the ackward beginning stages of learning.
First thing....don't quit....every new student has been where you are. Afraid to ask a lady to dance because she is a more advanced dancer that you are and you don't want to do the same moves over and over...we all get that...
second....many (not all) lady dancers really don't know their own steps...they rely way too much on the men do push or pull them (literally) in the right place....dancing should flow it shouldn't be a physical contest to get the lady where she needs to go. There's a woman at the studio I attend to admitted that to me one day. She seems to move very well on the floor and she and I were just chatting one day and she mentioned she can follow very well, but she can't dance...there's a difference...point is, don't be afraid and don't think that just because a woman can follow she's a good dancer.
Hang in there...perhaps the studio you attend is the wrong studio for you. Let's all be honest, we stay at our studios because we fit in...we have friends there, we feel comfortable there, etc...when I first started taking lessons, I remember walking in the studio the very first time and I was scared to death....no reason to be that way, but I was. After a shirt while, I became comfortable with all the people and now it's like walking into a friend's house....point is, if you feel odd at your current studio, perhaps it's because you don't interact with the people very well, and you might want to check out other studios.
Take group line dancing to enhance your motor skills. Find group lessons that devote an entire month to a single dance.
You MUST learn the cadence of each ballroom dance. You MUST practice the cadence each day for an hour. You MUST count as you practice. In order to concentrate on learning steps and leading a partner, you must first be conversant with the cadence.
In the course of advancing from incapable to competent I saw many succeed and many fail.
The successful applied themselves, familiarized themselves with the cadence and progressed.
The failed sabotaged themselves in one or more ways: missed lessons, didn't practice, considered counting as beneath them, failed to learn the cadence.
By cadence I mean the footwork: waltz being 1-2-3 (slow-quick-quick), foxtrot being 1-2-3-4 (slow-slow-quick-quick), etc.