Sharing The Joy Of Dancing


I have talked many times about how women learn from the "music down" and the men learn from the "floor up". Women basically "hear" and "feel" what to do (spontaneously). Men basically "see" and "analyze" what to do (very planned). This article is pointed to the men's perspective of ballroom dancing. I have found that the following is true in about 95% of men. Most of the following is how I, as a guy, learn and see things. It's not a pretty sight.

Have you noticed that when instructors teach group classes, they come back to the same spot on the floor whenever they go over or re-teach a pattern? This is done to accommodate the men in the class. Men can get confused if their visual orientation is changed while learning a pattern then trying to dance it on a different wall. Most of the time, men are not aware that this is a problem for them.

The first time I realized that I had a problem was when I was getting ready for a competition in San Diego. I had worked on a Silver Waltz routine for a solid three months. This was a solo routine with about 90 different elements. I knew this routine inside and out and could dance it in my sleep. For some reason I had to practice the routine in a different ballroom than normal. I immediately realized that I couldn't dance the routine in the new ballroom because all the walls were different. I unknowingly had associated the routine elements with specific walls of the ballroom.

I knew that the ballroom at the competition would be larger than the one I used at our studio. So just like a typical guy, I analyzed the situation and decided to learn the routine from corner to corner of the room and ignore the walls. Perfect solution right…well not quite. As chance would have it, there were so many competitors they had to cut the main dance floor in half to accommodate all of the competitors. The floor was in this huge room and there were no visible walls or corners in relation to the floor!! Because the floor was smaller, my routine corners didn't match the floor. A bigger floor would have been OK because my routine would have fit. Somehow I got through it and all ended well.

The point of this story is that a guy will try anything to maintain the visualation that he is comfortable with. This doesn't work in the long run. I have private students that can learn and dance very well during the private lesson, but at a dance in a different ballroom and people on the floor around them, things don't go so well. The man's response usually is: "I won't come to the dances until I am more comfortable". This seldom happens.

Men, we just have to suck it up and dance no matter what. Right or wrong really makes no difference. There is no substitute for floor time. The only requirement for ballroom dancing is to have fun and don't get hurt. The point is to have as much fun as you can whatever your skill level. You can have fun when you screw it up as well as when you do it right if you allow it. The more repetition the man gets on the dance floor, the faster he develops the muscle memory required so he can evolve his dancing to feeling instead of visualation and mechanics. The art of ballroom dancing is an evolutionary process. Fortunately for us there is no end of the learning process or getting better as a dancer. "The only way to learn to ballroom dance is to dance".