Everyone who dances know couples dancing has its up’s and down’s. Especially becoming a dancer or getting in as a newbie in a new scene inevitably means somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes, extreme disappointment through a series of rejections can be enough to make some people quit dancing completely. In this article we goes a little deeper in the field of rejection, What is it’s causes, why does it hurt so much and actually, we dancers has a super power compared to regular people!
When I ask dancers in general if their life improved after starting dancing most people shout a resounding YES! The healing powers of dancing is also scientifically proven time and time again and all dancers know how high you can get from dancing. But, on the flip side, all dancers have experience of being rejected, not chosen and standing lonely on when the last song is sounding. Even though rejection in the dancing scene can be truly crushing at times, it is actually not as bad as you think. There is a lot you can do personally to avoid much of the painful rejections on the dance floor. Follow Mårten Angner on this simple guide on how to get more yes to daces.
Rejection is a big topic, and in order to break down this topic from my perspective I have choosen to break this article up in three sections.
- Section 1: Handle your expectations
- Section 2: Become a more pleasant person
- Section 3: Become a better dancer
Get ready for a ton of advice I collected based on mistakes and successes from over 7 years of dancing at the time of writing this article. Right of the bat I have to confess that, when I describe a problem behavior and its consequences, keep in mind that I have probably made all the mistakes in I describe at one point or another. Maybe by sharing it my experiments might help you avoid them!
All that out of the way, grab a cup of tea and let’s do this 🙂
Section 1: PERSPECTIVES ON REJECTION
Before we jump in to each and everyone of these points and give you a ton of tips on how to better handle yourself, I think it might be helpful to take a little step back and look at rejection in general and how the dancing scene actually is far less bad than society at large.
WHAT IS REJECTION
First, lets define rejection for the purpose of this guide. Lets define it as the events where invitation to take part in some mutual engaging activity is denied and may translate to a negative validation of the person inviting to the exchange.
And, no, it is not only you. The joy of getting a yes and the pain of rejection is real. the reaction is actually caused by some quite elaborate brain chemistry engaged in the crushing feeling while being rejected, mainly a drop in Dopamine level and an increase in stress related hormones like Cortisol. This mechanism is millions of years old and the ability to feel rejected is shared between all animals going back far beyond the point where we as a species where standing on two legs.
THE EVOLUTIONARY PURPOSE OF REJECTION
You don’t need to be a biologist genius to figure out the biological implications of rejection. The whole evolution of all species on the planet has different and many times remarkable systems for mate selection and the evolutionary significance of being rejected for the individual and this individuals genetic future is obvious. But for us as Humans our social interactions goes deeper than this, and has implications beyond mating.
As it turns out, the Dopamine/Cortisol balance also has a great roll in our social structures where successful people who is well regarded by other people generally have higher levels of Dopamine and are more stress resistant than marginalized people who have less friends and or are pushed further down in the social structure.
Yes, I know how it sounds. This is generally unfair. Why should some people already have more good fortune rapidly get even more, when people have less over time? And before you rip me to pieces in the comment section, bare with me for just a second, because, here in lies one possible explanation to why we feel so good about our dancing! Bare with me, I am not saying that people who feel crushed by rejection should feel guilty for their current predicament.
REJECTION IN THE DANCING SCENE IS ACTUALLY NOT AS BAD AS YOU THINK
Now, lets take a look at the civil society, yes, that strange world outside of dancing. You know, the world we dancers so struggle with keeping the connection to 🙂
In a normal nighclub, you can not even get in the door before you get judged hard, rejected allready by the bouncers outside the door. A tenth of a second it all it takes for these people to asses if you are getting behind the velvet rope. Chanses are, if you did not arrive in your lamborgini or happen to have a model contract you will be directed to stand last in the long line of the “ordinary” people. Well inside you get judged and rejected and if you happen to not allready “be someone” in this place manage to have any kind of fun, you are a social genious.
All environments in society obviously does not give you such wild current of negative validation as a busy night club, but everywhere is normal society you are constantly sorted by physical attraction, age weight and other physical characteristics of yourself that you either was born with or are require a long and hard process to make any change to what so ever. Let’s say, normal society
WHY DANCERS NEVER AGE
Thank you for following me this far. I know did we all not wish the world was a little less cruel sometimes? Yes. But, actually it is. Because in the dancing scene we have a leveling factor that manages to cut through all judgements and where ANYONE can succeed. Dancing skills.
Because, in the dancing scene it is your level of dancing, musicality, timing and your creative expression in the dance will in the end be the deciding factor if you get a yes or not.
Off course, as i society in large attractive people will have an advantage, but, just good looks is from my standpoint just a little less important on a dance floor. Just a pretty face and a hot body will maybe get you a stream of invitations, but, it is your artistic presentations that will be valued in the end.
So, here is the glimmer of hope for us who have some life experience don’t have the looks of a movie star. Maybe, as a dancer, you only get better, not older. Maybe this is why avtive dancers does not tend to scilently fade away into the woodwork. Maybe the Dopamine shower you get from just showing up at the dance, being selected, get tons of smiles, be instantly useful for other people to not mention the positive benefits to your physique being active several night a week can give.
In short, motion is lotion, what can I say <3
SO, IF DANCING IS SO DAMN GOOD, WHY IS NOT EVERYONE ON THE DANCE FLOOR ALL THE TIME?
Well, here is the big mystery for me. I started dancing at the age of 42 in a deep depression. If I could get back and have a serious conversation with myself 20 years ago I would use more than mild force to get myself to the dance class. But, as it seems, especially for men, going to dance class is deeply intimidating.
I remember when I went to my first dance class. It was actually really really scary and I think my experience is not unique in any way. I feared that everyone would stare at me, that I was going to be the worse dancer in the room and maybe people would point and laugh at my mistakes.
Does it not carry some irony, that an environment with less validation can be so scary so I for many years choosed to hang out in the club scene where the environment is much much tougher? Maybe it is a case of familiarity, My current pain is known and any change is scary.
But, I have been going on long enough and this is a problem to solve another day. Now, lets dive in to how you can play the game better, get more yes’es and minimize your number of rejections and minimize how much they hurt you.
HANDLING YOUR EXPECTATIONS
The most important part of handling rejection is to be very clear with your view of yourself. It is important to know that as a social dancer you will get a chance to show yourself when you come for the first time to the dance class or you appear in a new place or a new city. Here it is important to have a little bit of a double vision. To succeed, you need to understand that you are not the center of attention but at the same time you are a valuable person in your own right.
Reality check: YOU ARE probobly NOT GODS GIFT TO MANKIND
The first thing to understand is that you are not hot shit in any stretch of the imagination. You are a regular dude or dudesse if there is such a thing as a female dude ;-). No one is here to cut you down, but they are not here to worship at the feet of your mere appearance either. Don’t expect to be showered with praise for your every move.
Even if you were cool as fuck, acting like it tend to drive people mad and get the urge to show you your place. Trust me, I have the unlucky experience of trying and I can tell you, the fall is hard for someone who try to overreach. Let’s leave it at that.
The key here is to primarily blend in. Try to behave like everyone else, don’t take to much space which might be hard for an pathological extrovert like me. As a first timer, it is useful to find a place where you can overllook the room, getting your back against the wall helps, and fiddle with yout phone if dont know where to place your hands.
RADIATE Great ENERGY
At your position at the sidelines make sure to smile and have an open body language without trying to hard. This generally means standing up straight with your shoulders back and make sure to expose your chest and hands. try to connect and take in the room. Watch people but not to much.
Chances are that someone seek eye contact or smile at you. This is great. But make sure to not mistake this for interest that needs to be explored right away. Don’t jump on the firs person to look at you make every interaction happen like it was by chance.
Most importantly, take part, try to be appreciative and positive without expecting anything in return. It will be a pleasant surprise when you feel certain people are just naturally drawn to you and you to them. This process can not be forced.
DON’T GET ON ANYONES SHITLIST
All people simply does not get a long. This is true in the dancing scene just like everywhere else in society. But there is things you can do, that permanently put you on the list of people a person will not dance with, ever! This is a bad investment.
We have all seen the beginner dancer asking the hottest star in the room for a dance. If this person does not put the person down hard the awkwardness can usually be measured on the Richter scale and may result in a no-dance from this person and others for a long time in the future.
Complaining on your partners dancing is also something that will pass you to the group of non grata. People are here to be met on their level, not be judged. This also goes for instructions on the dance floor. I use to be Olympic medalist in giving feedback or instructions on the dance floor. I regret this deeply and try to be very restrictive on doing this today, even if I sometimes mix up my role as a teacher with the role of me as a dancer.
But, possibly the greatest mistake you can do is to mistake openness in dancing as physical attraction. Few things will give you a quick pass to the shit list as giving unwanted attention. Off course, as soon as a group of people meet, people will be more than just friends, but being known as the person who is flirting and touching on the dance floor is not how this should be done. The simple rule is to treat all fellow dancers like your siblings. Focus on the joy of dancing and try your very best to make this your sole focus!
Focus on seeking out friendship ON YOUR OWN LEVEL
finally, the best advice I can give in being the newbie in a dance community is to look for forming friendships on your own level or people who has less experience than you. If you are in a beginners class make sure to make friends with other beginners and as your skills improve your company as well as your dances will be welcome from an ever growing circle of people with different experiences.
As you become a better dancer, never stop making friends among the beginners in the group, this for a number of reasons.
No one was born a dancerr and few things are so not-at-all-charming as a dancer who disrespect other people based soley on their lack of skills. We are living in a sensitive eco system where we need new commers constantly if we all are going to get great dances long term. We all remember these people who suffered through dances with us when we sucked hard at dancing. Off course, These people who saw my potential then, is the people I make sure to dance with first now when my skills are more prominent!
You can be sure that your dancing and your personality will catch the attention of the skilled dancers, if you show some patients. With time you will be a great dancer AND a good friend ensuring your daily dopamine dose into your eternal dancers life!