The dance floor can be an intimidating place to be and looking back to my early days of beginning Salsa I can recall a time when I would stand along the perimeter wanting nothing more than to stylishly dance with effortless ease just as everyone else. chat with a stranger Yet, before I knew it, as I caught a glimpse of my next dance partner-to-be beginning his approach, I would swiftly turn away, reach down to fiddle with my shoe strap, dig in my purse endlessly, or even worse, jump up to make a mad dash for the bar as if I were a ‘runaway bride’ – escaping his sight just in the nick of time.
Shyness strikes again.
Frustrated, I remember wondering how I was ever going to fulfill my desire to master the intricacies of Salsa if the thought of a crowded dance floor, or more so its spectators, petrified me. I knew that I needed to overcome my feelings of apprehension, lack of confidence, and outright awkwardness pronto so I adopted a few tactics to shake the shyness. And, as with learning any new pattern or body movement this feat would require dedication, effort – and at times – possibly Tequila.
Become Familiar with The Music
To start, I familiarized myself with the music, one of the most influential motivators to get me to the dance floor. When I began learning Salsa I borrowed a CD from my instructor. The CD was a collection of the most popular songs that he played when conducting lessons and were also quite popular on the social scene. I listened to music continuously and found that becoming familiar with the music not only helped me learn to find the one beat, but made my dancing flow more smoothly; especially, if one of my favorite songs were played.
I also sometimes used the concept of visualization, a well-known practice used to overcome forms of social anxiety where you release yourself by visualizing or imagining a situation. For example: on the dance floor where you are normally shy and then simply replace that with images where you are confidently dealing with the situation – maybe to the applause and admiration of everyone! It sounds corny, but you would be surprised.
Always Accept Invitations to Dance
For the last year I have faithfully committed myself to comply with one of dance’s most vital etiquette’s: always accept invitations to dance UNLESS you do not know the dance in question or are REALLY taking a break. By dancing with as many people as possible you will broaden your own skills, practice being led by other dancers with various skill levels and will discover your own style through each dance and, in turn, overcome shyness on the dance floor.
Highlight Your Strong Points, Whatever Those May Be
I have recognized that we all have strong points on the dance floor – so I found that the trick is to draw attention to your strong points, maybe throw in a new shine that you have mastered – and smile! It keeps the spectators looking at your face so they will not even notice your occasional two left feet.
If you Mess Up, Keep Moving
I am somewhat of a perfectionist; so when I messed up a step, I wanted to stop the whole dance, play back the song and try it again until I get it right. Unfortunately, this does not work in social dancing scene, so I force myself to just keep moving! If you miss a step or did not interpret a lead properly, recover quickly and keep moving. No worries. You are most likely the only one who
noticed the blunder!
My conquest to overcome shyness on the dance floor has been a success. As I improve my skills and surround myself with supportive dancers, the desire to make a mad dash for the door has diminished. I have learned to practice the philosophy of Agnes De Mille, a famous American Choreographer and Dancer, who once said, “To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more
beautiful, more powerful. This power, it is glory on earth and it’s yours for the taking.”