General Dance Discussion > Help, please! From a dance-loving wife with a dance-phobic spouse. . .

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by PennyAnnie, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    To all of the posters on this thread - thank you so much for all of your insight, suggestions and encouragement. There has been so much excellent content here that will hopefully benefit many other beginners, not just my DH and me. Thank you all for your generosity of spirit, caring and sharing. I will let you know how it goes!
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  2. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    Again - great big thanks from both me and my hubby to all of the posters who so generously and genuinely contributed to this thread. There is so much great content on this thread that could benefit any and all beginners - I hope that it is widely read, because so much wisdom - and caring - has been shared here. I am overwhelmed with the response. We will let you all know how our journey into the dance world goes! Thanks again! (ooooops - didn't think the prior post had posted, so this is a bit redundant - but the appreciation is real, and can't be overstated!)
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  3. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Please keep us updated on how it's going.
  4. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Your story sounds a lot like mine. My DW is the total extrovert and jumped right into dancing, I'm the total introvert. My journey was bumpy at first, but here I am dancing regularly almost 3 years later. I wrote many words about it here:

    First some questions:
    • Is your goal to dance only with your DH (Dear Husband), or do you want to dance also with other people?
    • Do you know what his specific discomfort is? (He might not know himself. It took me around a year and a half to figure out the source of my discomfort.)
    Here are my suggestions:
    • Read my thread at the link above.
    • Remember, he is doing this because of and for you. Remember, your smile is his reward. Here are some things to feed into his reward system:
    • Compliment him.
    • Smile at him.
    • Laugh off mistakes.
    • Assure him you'll dance only with him, if that is what he wants, and leave when he feels he has had enough for a night.
    • If you decide to switch partners, be sure to start and end the night with him, and check in with him every song or two.
    • Follow as well as you can, even if he is "wrong," and don't backlead.
    My DW generally was good at these things -- that kept me going!

    I'm going to disagree with some here to send him to his own lessons. Remember, he is doing this for you and because he wants to do things with you. Imagine telling him to go out to eat alone! What's the fun in that? Remember he has not awakened to the intrinsic fun of dance yet. It was a months long journey for me.

    One thing I wish I did was to watch some YouTube videos of how to dance before I tried it. Even knowing a little of what to do lowers the stress level and helps the lesson go better. I'd suggest start practicing to some YouTube dance tutorial videos, there are many of them.

    I'm going to disagree with others some more. It might be better to take group classes over private lessons. For me, there was a time issue, I think it would have been very tough for me to have the same dance partner, the female instructor, for a whole hour. My angst was cumulative. Easiest for me was dancing only with my DW. Next easiest was class where I got to know people and make friends with them, and the interactions with any particular person were 3ish minutes. Obviously it depends on what his angst is, but from my experience I would lean towards a few YouTube lessons at home, and then a group lesson.

    Regarding dance styles:

    If he is proximity-to-women challenged, Contra is a great place to start. Touch is mostly hands and brief. It is very structured and easy to learn (just show up and you'll do fine!). People around you will push or pull you into place if you get lost, that is part of the fun. It is very family friendly and there are people of all ages.

    Salsa and Swing had many happy people, I liked that. I have only a handful of lessons and hours with each. DW didn't like our local Salsa crowd, there was too much grinding for her liking. We'll probably do Swing lessons in 2018.

    I did a Ball Room class, but it didn't go well. There was no partner switching, but it went so fast none of it stuck. Also, there are few Ball Room dances in my area. You want to check if there are opporunities to do the dance you are studying!

    I really like Blues. The music is great, each step is improvised, and it is casual. Unfortunately our local scene has a lot of grinding, so DW and I don't do much Blues dancing. I hear that's something with our little area, and that most areas don't have that issue. I found Blues dancing to be very versatile and usable in night clubs. It is also a great dance for women with less experience, as you can back up and just use hands if it is not going well, but Blues can also be danced close. In my area, Blues dancers tend to be in their 20s and 30s.

    Drum roll please... and the winner is... Tango! Well, not necessarily, but it has some good points for your husband's case. In my area, about 1/3 the Tango dancers I know are either doctors, lawyers, university professors, engineers, programmers, scientists, or students in a technical field. So at least for my area, it does draw well educated and technical people. I like that Tango is spontaneous and led step-by-step. It's kind of like chess, you need to think several moves ahead. Here on the DF Tango forum, Tango has been called the most introverted of the dances, and attracts introverts. I can see that. At Contra or Blues, 5 people will have introduced themselves in the time it takes me to get my shoes on. At Tango, you can be a wallflower in the corner and most people will leave you alone (Mr. Introvert here considers this a benefit!). You also do three song Tandas with the same partner, so you don't interact with as many people. I have done Tango to Blues and Rock music (oh yeah, also to Tango music). It tends to be an older crowd, IME.

    Some people like classes better than dance events. Actually make that many, that I have seen in Tango few people who take classes go to Milongas (Tango dances). The good thing about Tango is it is easy to start, as the basic step is walking. With an hour of training you can muddle through a Milonga. It is also hard to master, and many people take lessons for years. This could be good for your DH, he might like the structure of classes better than Milongas.

    Don't expect he'll steadily make progress, that it will be quick, or suddenly one day he'll be "cured." The dance thing has tended to be a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing for me. Even now, some nights I dance only with my DW -- but OTOH recently I went to a Milonga by myself when I was on a trip, and knew no one there. That was a first for me.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
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  5. c955

    c955 New Member

    Tango Distance covers pretty much everything you need to consider for now and I would add my 2 cents here...

    YouTube is a great resource to get an idea of which dance(s) inspires interest and curiosity, and will you also give you the opportunity to sample perhaps the most important thing: whether the music 'moves' you (pun intended!) :D

    IMO memorising a sequence of steps which you can execute perfectly in time with the music is NOT dancing. Robots can do this. It may be a total cliche because it's true: dancing is something that comes from the heart. While you may be able to 'feel' the music even if you don't necessarily like it, what's the point of heading to the dance floor with your partner at that point?

    Having read much of his musings, I'm sure Tango Distance will corroborate that the rewards are worth the effort :cool: Good luck!
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  6. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    What a coincidence that there were 2 lovely new posts on "my" thread today. I planned on doing an update tonight, because DH and I had our 2nd dance class last night ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    We signed up for the "Partner Dancing 101" class that I spoke about in Post #39. It doesn't teach specific dances per se, but is more about learning to move together gracefully to music - and to have fun, using very basic steps and incorporating "greatest hits" moves from various different dances. It's usually a 4 week series that starts the first Thursday of each month, but because of the holidays they combine November and December into a 7 week series - which is a big benefit, I think. We went to the first class last week, not knowing quite what to expect. But I had exchanged emails with Sarah, the instructor, who said that she teaches the class in a very analytic way, and that the engineer types usually do just fine.

    Here's how it went:

    CLASS 1:
    The class was small - just 2 couples and 2 single guys at the first class. Sarah did a great job of putting everyone at ease. She talked about (and showed us, and had us do) things like "softening our knees", connection, position, frame, etc. She talked about leading and following and had us do a couple of exercises - one where we put our hands behind our back, and us "follows" had to try to follow our leads as they moved around. And then she had the follows put our hands on our leads' chests, close our eyes, and again follow our lead. One of the things I loved (and laughed at internally) is that the first dance "step" she taught us is what she calls the "middle school sway" - just shifting your weight from left foot to right foot in rhythm with the music - some of you might remember my earlier comment about "holding onto each other, shuffling our feet and swaying back and forth like in junior high" - LOL! Next was what I think is a basic step from Bachata (a one-and-two one direction, then three-and-four in the opposite direction). After we practiced that for awhile and did a rotation of switching partners, we learned to do an outside turn. I was grinning the whole time - we were moving to the music, smiling, and even doing a turn! Even if that's all we ever learn to do - it's a success ! ! ! But the biggest success of all is that DH said that it wasn't intimidating, and that it was actually FUN ! ! ! !

    CLASS 2:
    Some new people joined at Class 2 - a cute young couple who are getting married in March, and another single guy (BTW, KUDO's to these guys who are taking the initiative to learn to dance!). We reviewed the "middle school sway", the "basic", and the outside turn. Going well so far. Then she introduced an inside turn - which seemed to throw a bit of a monkey wrench in the works - for us, anyway! Felt to me like he was turning me to the inside when we should have been going outside, and vice versa - we even ended up going in different directions at times! He said I wasn't following - and there could be some truth to that, which I acknowledged and said I would try to focus more on following. Main thing is we laughed about it, kept at it, and still enjoyed ourselves. It might have been a good thing, too, that he felt like he was getting it and I wasn't - great for his confidence!

    So, we're "in" for the full 7 week series, although we have to miss next week (Class 3), darn it. Sarah seems to have hit upon a truly genius way to get couples started in partner dancing. It feels like we're really learning to dance together, rather than just memorizing steps. No idea at this point whether or not we might continue on to learn other specific dance styles, but this is such a HUGE step forward, I'm absolutely thrilled!
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  7. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

  8. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    You're lucky to have that class as a resource to get started. It's rare to have people start out with technique. There are many classes in which the instructors throw a bunch of steps at people without including technique. I liken it to a play performed by actors who don't understand the language the play is written in.

    To be fair to the teachers who just give steps, most people don't want technique -- maybe they think they'll be dancing like Patrick Swazee with just a few easy lessons. I've audited a few of that type of class. You don't often see their students out dancing and when you do you can tell that they don't dance well.
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  9. PennyAnnie

    PennyAnnie New Member

    @snapdancer - yes, I agree that we're very fortunate to have found such a class - I feel like we hit the jackpot ! ! ! We were so please with the class right from the beginning, and I have been thinking that classes like this should be offered EVERYWHERE ! Hmmmmm, my entrepreneur mind sees a possible licensing opportunity for the "Sarah Method of Partner Dancing", LOL!
  10. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    Again, my observations are that most people will not want to pursue this path -- in entrepreneur-speak there's no market. Why would someone want to do this when the star learns a fabulous routine in only one week? (Their thought, not mine.)

    I also refer you to the small sizes of the classes you've attended. I think that this class is sustained more by your teacher's interest than in the economics.
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    As I wrote earlier in the thread, I've been going to the "Viscount Studio" for quite some years.
    It might be helpful to read "A Community" on their homepage.

    On a practical level, Sarah probably has the same cost for leasing the space whether she has 2 students or 50.

    I very recently came across the FTC vs Arthur Murray Corporation file related to when AM was pushing lifetime memberships. A. Murray did a lot for "ballroom" dance, and he was a very successful business man. I'd like to think it wasn't Murray himself, but overly zealous managers who were responsible for legal problems.

    Meanwhile, recently Peter Loggins commented about how lucky I was to be somewhere where there was a "scene." Yeah, I am. Bushwhackers was packed last night. We've got Secret Society for swing and salsa (and two step if you can get around the floor), and a bunch of places for AT.
    It's unfortunate that more places don't benefit from people who are more interested in sharing their love of dance, rather than maximizing profit per investment.

    PennyAnnie, I'm really happy Viscount is working out for you and you husband. Maybe I'll run into you guys somewhere some evening.
  12. davedove

    davedove Active Member

    Also, to be fair, even if the instructor does include technique with the steps, beginning students are simply overwhelmed with the amount of information. The first time through, most students are simply concerned with "Where do I step next?" and, again to be fair, just retain much more than that. It takes multiple times for a person to start getting all the little pieces of information that make dance better.
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  13. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    Agreed. But there's a middle ground between giving all of the technique and zero technique. There are a couple of local instructors like that, throwing a bunch of patterns at people but never getting them out of a practice hold.

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