The proverbial questions that everyone has faced when they start dancing and how to answer them...
Firstly, congratulations, you’ve begun the beautiful journey of learning to ballroom dance. You may have long longed to find your very own Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Sid Charisse, Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Lopez... The list could go on and on. Whether it’s swirling around the dance floor to a crooner or dirty dancing with that someone special, you will hopefully have got the dancing bug and be twinkle toeing the nights away. If you have told your friends and family that you are taking dance lessons then it is highly likely that you have been at the receiving end of many of the following questions and statements so here is some of my advice, often tongue in cheek but also with an element of truth, of how you may respond. Will it help to stop all future grillings? Maybe, maybe not. This blog post is written as a bit of fun but hopefully you will find that it makes some important points.
So I see 3 possible approaches to such questions.
1) “The response you would like to give” but may be too polite to do so.
2) “The explanation and reason you might give” because you want to help people to understand why you dance.
3) “The answer your heart yearns for you to give”, the revelatory and often confessional explanation of why dancing is so inspirational and has become such an intrinsic part of your life.
Here are some of the questions I am sure you’ve heard……
"What Makes You Think You Can Dance?"
1) The response you would like to give - "Um …..Dance lessons??!!! Obviously! "
2) The explanation and reason you might give - “I didn’t think I could either - you’ve seen me on the dance floor - but that’s why I decided to give it a go and take lessons. It turns out that I do have a sense of rhythm, I just needed some help to find it. If I can learn some steps and moves, then anyone can.”
3) The answer your heart yearns for you to give: "Be brave, make the time and bite the bullet. Everyone has to start somewhere and whilst it might be scary it could change your life. If you'd like to give it a try, let me know and I can help you get started."
"Aren't Dance Lessons Quite Expensive?"
1) The response you would like to give: “A class is cheaper than a pack of fags and only a little more than a pint – if you can find the money for them then a class a week is hardly going to break the bank!”
2) The explanation and reason you might give: "I've invested in my family and my education, but this is one of the first investments in a long time that I've made in myself, doing something that truly makes me happy.”
3) The answer your heart yearns for you to give: "How can you put a price on something that makes you feel so alive. It’s a skill you keep forever and something that lasts that long is surely an investment worth making. I have fun whilst also keeping fit and meeting people. That’s got to be a good deal and value for money."
"Where Are You Ever Going to Dance Anyway?"
1) The response you would like to give: “Anywhere I want … the kitchen … the bedroom"
2) The explanation and reason you might give: "Well I've watched people dancing on the cruise ship and it always looked like they were having so much fun – now I can get up and have a go! Also hopefully I won’t embarrass my kids/partner/friends at the next wedding reception. There’s always a social dance evening somewhere.”
3) The answer your heart yearns for you to give: "I love dancing so much that I’ve booked a charity ball and I’m going to a few local events my dance club is putting on. Knowing how to dance unlocks opportunities that only dancers can see. No more staying at home feeling glum or lonely, you’ll never be at a loss as to what to do of an evening."
"Isn't Ballroom Dancing a Little Old Fashioned?"
1) The response you would like to give: "You know what's really old fashioned and actually really sad? Standing around at bars or sitting down watching others, rather than taking part."
2) The explanation and reason you might give: "Of course it isn’t. The dancefloor in any era has been a social hub for meeting people and having fun. The 1920s had the Charleston, the 1990s had their raves – dance was at its heart and ballroom dancing has traversed these fashions and survived because it is timeless."
3) The answer your heart yearns for you to give: "Whilst ballroom dancing has a classic grace and charm that permeates from the past, it has evolved across the decades and has never been more popular. It’s this relationship between a nostalgia for the elegance of the old movies with the sensuality of moving to music, whether modern or older, that makes it so mesmerising and addictive."
"Since When Do You Have Free Time to Do Anything Fun?"
1) The response you would like to give: "Ah so you do think it’s fun then ….. Just not brave enough to give it a go though huh? Also I didn’t realise you were monitoring my time – clearly you have too much spare time and can do nothing better with it! Maybe you should take up a hobby, say dancing for example, and live your own life rather than living through watching mine.”
2) The explanation and reason you might give: "I don't have much free time but an hour for a class or tuition is workable and is not a major commitment timewise ... and that's exactly the reason why this is perfect for me.”
3) The answer your heart yearns for you to give: "Everyone is busy, but if something is worth it, you will find the time. When I get lost in the music and movement of dancing I feel transported outside of time and suspended from the realities of life. Something like that is priceless and is so nurturing for the soul”.
"Don’t you think you’re a little too old / young to do something like that?"
1) The response you would like to give: "Don’t be silly. Are you ageist or something?! I never took you for someone of prejudice."
2) The explanation and reason you might give: "Do you know what, I’ve put off too many things for too long and this is one of them. Dancing isn’t rocket science and age does not matter. My class has people of every age but what is interesting is that someone’s age does not necessarily determine how good a dancer they will be.”
3) The answer your heart yearns for you to give: "Ballroom and Latin dancing can be learnt at nearly any age. Most people actually start dancing in their adulthood and then spend the rest of the lives enjoying it. In fact, one of the most amazing feelings when dancing is how your age falls away and you get caught up in the gracefulness and sensuality of dance.”
"Last time I looked, you had no rhythm"
1) The response you would like to give: "You want to bet."
2) The explanation and reason you might give: "You’re probably right, at first I thought I didn’t, but my teacher has shown me otherwise.” ….
3) The answer your heart yearns for you to give: "If there’s one thing I’ve realised it is that rhythm is a very personal thing. We all respond in different ways but anyone can learn to dance, no matter what they believe their rhythmic capabilities are."
"Are you trying to be like one of those professionals on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’?"
1) The response you would like to give: "Personally, I prefer to dance with more clothes on ….. and the orange look isn’t good when you’re walking down the High Street or doing your shopping.”
2) The explanation and reason you might give: "I'm hooked like the rest of the nation by the turnaround some of the celebrities make, and I have a new appreciation for what they go through - but the pros teach dance for a living, I'm dancing for fun and the health and social benefits."
3) The answer your heart yearns for you to give: "Don’t be ridiculous. This is a hobby and any hobby can be enjoyed as an amateur, whether it's learning the guitar, ballroom dancing, or pole vaulting! Those guys have spent a lifetime learning their craft, I want to spend a lifetime enjoying what I am learning".
A Final Thought …. questions are generated when people show an interest of some kind. Your transformation will be abundantly obvious and apparent with weight loss, happiness, and improved confidence. Observing how better off you are as a result of dancing is a something that any friend will be able to see … you never know, they may even give it a go themselves when they see how fun you find it.