Some folks don't dance. I know it might be hard for all of you blues dance fanatics out there to imagine, but it does happen. And there can be a variety of reasons why.
It happened to me years ago. I had just started taking Argentine tango lessons. It was my second 6-week series of classes. It was nerve racking for me, as you might have guessed if you read my last blog post about being a perfectionist. I hated absolutely every second of every class, but I wanted to learn, so I soldiered on. The other students were wonderful and patient. We were all beginners, and - thank God - we were all kind to each other.
I sincerely hope that none of you have been in a learning situation that became so frustrating and overwhelming that you experienced shame. But that was exactly what happened to me in one of the later classes. It was toward the end of class, my brain was full, my body was tired, we were trying back ochos for the first time, and I just couldn't quite seem to catch on.
What I know now is that the (also a beginner) lead that I was dancing with was not proficient yet at leading back ochos. I didn't realize that back then. I just knew that I kept messing up. At one point, the entire class was stopped and watching while the instructors worked with the two of us. The male instructor lead me into back ochos (and I did them correctly) to show the beginning lead what to do.
But despite the extra attention, the beginning lead could not lead it well, and that meant that I was not doing it correctly either. And I was too overwhelmed and embarrassed to keep in mind that I did them correctly when lead properly. If I had been able to keep that in mind, I might have been okay.
All of this was bad, but it was actually not the very worst part of that class. The most horrible part of the class came when, a few moments later, the female instructor looked up just as I was not doing it correctly (again!) and shouted in an accusatory tone - so as to be heard by everyone in the room - "Grace, what you doing?!" (Like it was anyone’s fault! Why did she use that tone? Oy!)
Well, what I was doing was trying to follow a beginner lead, and we were both learning. But what I felt was complete shame to have been yelled at like that in front of everyone. I quit the lessons, and it was many years before I would be able to get the nerve up to take more tango classes. I was traumatized.
Unfortunately, both Kevin and I have had experiences like that on the dance floor or in dance classes. That is one reason we keep our classes light and fun and casual. And it is also why we don't cram too much info into our classes. We attempt to straddle that line between too-much-and-overwhelmed-and-I-will-never-dance-again and not-enough-new-and-fun-stuff-introduced-and-I-was-bored. We want to make sure no one gets overwhelmed - something that we both know can lead to shame and giving up on dancing - while still conducting an engaging class.
We hope you keep dancing - no matter what kind of dance you do. And if you are frustrated, instead of quitting, please always let us know if you are close to that I'm-not-getting-it-and-I-feel-overwhelmed line. We can help with that. We've both been there before. Here's some more valid reasons folks don't dance.
Hope to see you out dancing,
Grace (& Kevin)