I attended the wedding of a friend last night. Despite being an introvert and abhorring being in the spotlight, I love to dance. It takes me a bit to lose my self-consciousness and loosen up, but once I am comfortable, I have a wonderful time. The dancing portion of the evening began with the initial awkwardness, looking around at everyone else and realizing how lame I am in contrast. The dances were upbeat enough, however, and I was amidst a group of close friends so I was quickly in my “groove” so to speak. We were all having a blast “wobbling” and “one-two-stepping” together. After a half-hour or so, a slow, romantic, lovey-dovey song began to play through the speakers, which had previously been pounding those fun, upbeat tunes. The whole atmosphere quickly changed… so did the demographics on the dance floor. What was just a moment before a mixed group “tearing it up” and having a good time, was now a slew of dating, engaged, and married couples. Immediately all us single folks felt very alienated. Most singles made their way to their seats, some standing around waiting for a fast song to come on again. I ended up slow dancing with some elementary and middle school girls in a circle, swaying this way, and that way, dramatically going in and back out again. It was actually quite fun, but seeing all the single guys just standing around looking clueless started me thinking, and this is what I have to say about that:
While I realize this is the year 2013, I do not believe it is a valid excuse to disregard the social graces of years past. Throughout all of American history, men and women were expected to dance with one another. In times when interactions between genders was limited and highly regulated, dancing was still considered to be an appropriate form of connection and recreation between men and women of all ages. Romantic interest was not the driving force behind asking a woman to dance. Men and women were able to, and expected to, dance with many partners throughout the evening. Even in as modern of history as the lifespan of my parents, dancing as partners was normal and enjoyed by all, especially at such occasions as weddings. I do not know what has happened between those days and now. When did slow dancing, or dancing with a platonic friend of the opposite gender become uncomfortable and weird? Gentlemen, you may be afraid a woman would read into you asking her to dance, that she would think you were romantically interested in her when you’re not. You also may be nervous to ask a woman to dance simply because you truly do have feelings for her, and you don’t want the whole world to watch you declare your love to her by asking her out onto the dance floor. Let me give you a few tips.
1. Ask LOTS of girls to dance. If you dance with someone new with each new song, all the women will realize you’re not asking for any romantic reasons. You don’t even need to just ask your friends, or ladies your age. If you see a woman without a partner, ask if she’d like to dance! The worst she could say is, “No,” but even at that, I’m sure she’d be glad you asked.
2. Get all your buddies to ask women to dance too! It won’t be awkward if everyone is doing it! Peer pressure can be a very valuable tool sometimes. =) If everyone is dancing with everyone else, it takes so much pressure off everyone. (and yes, I do realize the redundancy of using “everyone” 4 (now 5) times in this paragraph)
3. If you’re nervous the ladies Won’t want to dance, you’re probably dead wrong. Now, I can’t speak for all women, but deep down, most of us really like when you guys act like real men. We like when you hold doors for us, give us your jackets when we’re cold, pull the car up to the door if it’s raining, lift heavy things, and ASK US TO DANCE SO WE DON’T JUST STAND AROUND TWIDDLING OUR THUMBS BEING REMINDED FOR THE 5OOTH TIME THAT DAY JUST HOW SINGLE WE REALLY ARE!
4. Don’t be awkward while dancing. Most (if not all) the slow dance songs these days don’t require any special moves. Couples simply sway from side to side. Some people manage to get tricky and sway around in a little circle (crazy, I know). Since neither partner needs concentrate on keeping time, leading, following, remembering the next move, etc., these types of dances lend themselves to conversation more than a traditional waltz or polka. This is where both genders can feel a bit of pressure. What we need to do, though, is just relax! If two friends can carry a conversation while sitting next to each other, there is no reason they can’t have a perfectly normal conversation while dancing. So, just take a deep breath and practice the art of conversation. You have the power to make a girl feel trapped and uncomfortable, or put her at ease and help her to have a great night. Ask her how she is enjoying the evening. Ask about the food, or the song, or who was at her table, or what wedding traditions her family has, or even the weather! Just carry on a casual conversation!
5. I’m sure (I hope) this is a no-brainer. I am actually just putting this here so I have five points (I like the number 5 more than 4). Anyways… Gentlemen, please remember to be just that: gentlemen. Keep your hands in an appropriate place on the woman’s back. Also, do not pull your partner in so close that you’re pressed up against each other. I’ve danced with men in the past who, I’m sure, pulled me in extra tight just because of my larger bust line. No woman wants to feel used and violated, ever. Please respect the women you’re dancing with and keep it clean.