I love dancing…I don’t really love the other stuff.

Part of what I struggle with in dancing is finding a balance between the stuff I love and the stuff that’s merely necessary.

I love social dancing. Love it, love it, love it. I enjoy getting dressed up. I enjoy the mild flirtation. I enjoy the social interaction. And most of all I enjoy the opportunity to experiment and be creative. When I’m dancing socially I don’t really worry about my technique and I almost never feel self-conscious (except in a good way).  I’m only there because I want to be.

With lessons and practice it’s different. They feel like a necessary evil. I like feeling like a good dancer, and I know that better technique and better knowledge of the dances will improve my social dancing.  But rarely are these things any fun for me. I’m a clock watcher during lessons. I go into them hoping that this time the lesson will just fly by, but it usually doesn’t happen that way. Lessons aren’t about having fun or being creative and free. They’re about pursuing some standard of perfection.

I don’t compete because I don’t like my dancing to be judged. Lessons often make me feel the same way. At lessons I’m always worried about how I’m not doing the steps right, rather than glorying in the thrill of the movement.

I hate this. I hate that the two things can’t work together as they should. Lessons are stressful and I wish they weren’t. I wish learning to dance was as much fun as the actual dancing.


  1. I LOVE your writing. You’re awesome. How do you find the time to write like this? And I wish I had this talent. I’m trying to finish a book I’m working on, and it’s just not going well.

    Have you ever had anything published or do you just write for fun – I see you have two blogs. Do you keep up with them both? I have trouble being interested in writing something worthy in my one blog, let alone two!


    P.S. Sorry for all the questions!

  2. Hi Carla,

    Thanks 🙂
    This blog is just for fun, written mostly train-of-thought, which saves a lot of time. I think I could actually do a much better job with it if I bothered to do the editing-thing. But the editing thing is what I do at work all day, so I avoid it in the stuff I do for fun. This blog is a break. I get to write about something that really matters to me (sorry Mayo, but it’s not insurance).

    I’ve sort of abandoned the other blog, at least for now. I used it to experiment with all sorts of blog-styles and finally concluded that my problem was in not having a topic that inspired me. I don’t want to talk about my personal life (too private). I love food, but don’t really care enough about it to write about it (that’s my sister’s blog). And try as I might, I just don’t care that much about politics. I kind of wish politics would sink into the ground to get worried by rats. But dancing–that I’ve done a lot of, that I have lots of opinions about, that I have random thoughts about in the middle of the day. I think that’s what it takes to start a blog–lots of random, relevant thoughts.

  3. I think it’s great to love social dance. Also I think it’s OK to dread lessons for a while — until you become good and confident eventually — then you will perhaps enjoy it more !!??

    Regarding social dancing:

    I wish there were more ladies who are into social dancing and still taking lessons seriously in my area.

    I’ve seen some ballroom dancers who did not want to social dance, but want to just compete in competitions(as amateur couple or pro-am). I call them narcissistic dancers. Their dancing is to show off to others that they are just so cool. Therefore social dancing is for those lowly people who can’t dance exceptionally well in their opinion.
    When they dance, it’s all over written — “look at me– Oh I am so great !!!!”

    For me I did compete with amateur partner and also with my instructor. This was totally fun experience. But at the same time, i had to get my dose of social dancing. So I was always in social dancing scene. So I’ve done social ballroom plus extra curricular dancing of WCS/Hustle, Lindy Swing, and now salsa (progressively moving on, except ballroom dance). Problem is that, although all these dances(ballroom and all the others) are social dances, still it takes a lot of lessons, practices and dancing to get to higher interpretive dancing level. So although I am going to salsa now, for example, I find very few women who can dance at higher level(interpretive while still using sound technique) in my area.

    I think social dancing at higher level takes a lot of learning and practice. Just like one can’t dance ballroom at high level without good coaching, social (non-ballroom) dances also require good coaching.

    If you are taking ballroom dance lessons, improving techniques are the hardest part, and it can be challenging. But it pays off in time — because you will be looking so good on the dance floor.

    But beware of the problem when you reach that higher level of dancing. I must admit that often I become critical of other dancers who are not so good (lacking good basic technique).

    On the other hand, it is a blessing to have an instructor who tells you what needs to be improved. I’ve seen instructors who don’t (or can’t) teach techniques, and therefore focus on choreography. You can guess how their students look when they dance. When I see these kind of dancing (I call it spaghetti dancing, I silently moan — “Oh God, my eyes are hurting, Oh I shouldn’t be here, please take me away”

    • Seanny, while normally I’m right with you I must respectfully disagree with some of your statements.

      You and Caitey are right on in that lessons can become something one dreads rather than looks forward to, and it’s okay to not enjoy them. For many people lessons are like exercise: useful and productive, but enjoyable mainly once it’s over. If a dancer isn’t enjoying his or her lessons, it may be an inherent dislike in the dancer, but more often it’s a problem with the lessons. I may do a post on this in the future, but usually the best thing to do is to vary the lessons until a better approach can be found that the dancer enjoys more.

      My main issue of dispute is your claim that dancers who only want to compete and have no interest in social dance are narcissistic. Let me begin by saying that my main interest in dance is social; while I do compete I do so for purposes of goal-setting and quantifiable improvement. My preference for social dancing is rooted in the same reason many competitive dancers prefer competition dancing: social dance and competitive dance LOOK similar but are entirely separate activities.

      Social dancing is an experimental and creative outlet. It’s a social venue. It should be an opportunity to relax and take a (mostly) anything goes attitude. Competition dancing is based on measuring oneself against a specific standard and other competitive competitors. The only similarity is that both involve dancing as their method of interaction.

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