If you ever said/thought the following things before:
"I don't know how to dance!"
"I got two left feet, there's no hope for me"
"I can't do that" (they say pointing at some professional doing amazing moves)
This one is for you.
"Sure, I wanna try it some time!" insert uncomfortable smile
So many friends of mine gave me this answer when I was trying to persuade them to try dance. Rarely did they follow through. As a dancer it's easy to wonder: "Why? How can they refuse happiness??", but I do get it. I really do. Dance has become something that can be very, very scary.
I think the pop-culture view of dance has become more “professional”. It’s harder to just dance when there’s a stream of trends on TikTok and Instagram, but it also exists with shows like “Dancing with the stars”.
In short, we feel we must be “good enough to dance”.
Now, imagine a person who couldn't look you in the eye, and would also stutter as they (finally) spoke. A person that barely understands people and social settings. A person who is scared around people constantly, because they feel lost.
That person is me.
I picked up dance on a whim. In the first couple of months I started dancing, I ended up dancing 6 (!) dance styles: Bachata, Cuban Salsa, On 2 Salsa, Brazilian Zouk, Hip-Hop, and Breakdance. I went crazy for dance! Drawn by the movement, connecting with people, and more - those things were well worth the social anxiety, being afraid to look silly or make mistakes in front of others. They boosted my confidence, connected me to new friends, and got me to understand people so much better.
Why am I telling you this?
Because I think that I'm not the only one. I think that dance, when first seen (as a non-dancer), is a high-achieving feat that only a few can reach. For newcomers, dance seems to be only for the sociable, athletic, and beautiful, those who never mess up...so I'm here to clear the fog and explain how everyone can dance.
By the end of the article, we'll hopefully answer the questions:
What can make dance so scary?
How does the idea of dancing make me feel?
What kind of dance suits what I'm looking for?
Where can I dance?
Not all dance is the same!
If you ever rejected the idea of dance because of being afraid to look silly, being silly is allowed.
Not all dancers dance like "Dancing with the stars". For many dancers, performing is very scary!
Beyond different dance styles, types of dance are a thing:
Not all dancers perform or compete, some just dance for their own experience, caring less about looks and more about their own feelings and fun. Can you relate to this feeling?
There are many ways to define and observe dance (see my article about "What is dance?"), but let's focus on one important distinction in the dance world: The difference between performative dance, and social dance.
Performing can be scary for some, social dance can be scary for others
The performative aspect - exists in every kind of dance, and every part of life as well. We all want to impress and feel appreciated, and that can put a lot of pressure on us.
The social factor in social dancing allows us to connect, express, and "perform" in a low-stakes situation: with a fellow dancer, in a safe container where we can both be "silly" if we want. Some people find this harder than performing, especially if they have social anxiety.
On the other hand, some want to avoid the intimacy of connecting to one person at a time, the "messy" communication, and the social setting, and prefer to connect to the technical aspect, to the movement, and to the crowd on a broader level - which is something performances can supply.
They both bring enjoyment and satisfaction, just in different ways.
Which kind of dance seems more suitable for you, based on what brings you joy, and your fears?
If it feels right, share it with us! Either publicly or privately.
Sotaki specializes in classes that cater more to the social aspect, but soon, we will also provide classes with performative aspects.
Contact us to find out more, or get directions to a dance that can suit you best.