Nobody wants to fail at anything, and failing in public can be particularly damaging to your confidence. The saying ‘Dance like nobody’s watching’ is a great slogan for anybody trying to improve their dancing. Those words should be a comfort to every beginner too, because nobody is watching – everyone is busy dancing. Well not quite, because your partner is watching – they are watching every move you make and feeling it too. They’ll know when you are out of sync with the beat, they’ll sense any hesitation and they’ll definitely know it when the move goes wrong. If you are a man leading the dance moves your partner will be watching you even closer. They have to – they need to read your signals. That’s how they know what move is coming next.
To read the previous chapters in my tale of a fictitious group of beginners click here
You are a man who’s been told to up your fitness level. The weight has crept up a little more lately and is now spreading round your waist. You recently went up a trouser size. The doctor was quite gentle on you but you have thankfully been a bit harder on yourself. But what’s to be done about it? You hate the gym and jogging is as appealing as the purgatory that was PE lessons at school. One night you are at a wedding celebration, doing your best dad dancing (you were quite a mover in your younger disco days) when you become aware of a couple doing what looks like rock ‘n’ roll, but obviously isn’t. As they leave the floor you ask them what dance they were doing and they enthusiastically tell you about the Modern Jive class they attend, ‘Why don’t you come along. We’ll be there.’ ‘Yes, I might give it a try.’ ‘Its a fun way to get fit.’ God do I look that unfit!
You’d survived your first lesson and had been lucky to get another beginner for the full dance at the end. You’d explained it was your first night and being relatively new herself she had been happy to keep doing the same three moves they had been taught in the class. You had then continued to watch the more experienced dancers do their stuff in the freestyle session. It looked amazing when compared with your own limited dance of three moves and the same three moves over and over again. You suddenly doubted whether you could ever achieve that standard.
Before your self doubt could knock your confidence too much, you are asked to dance by one of the dance crew (other dancers who volunteer to help out the beginners). ‘It’s my first night.’ ‘That doesn’t matter, lets see how you got on with tonight’s moves.’
You did Okay and you sensed your timing got a little better. ‘You’ve picked that up well.’ ‘Thank you.’ ‘Now remember to ask other people to dance.’ Boosted by her comments you confidently ask a woman to dance. ‘So how did you get on?’ Your work colleague had been surprised that you had chosen to go. ‘It went really well until I asked this woman to dance. I thought she was a beginner, but she turned out to be quite an accomplished dancer and sadly not very patient.’
The memory of that dance was burned on your consciousness. It had been three minutes of hell. Your partner had quickly realised that you couldn’t do more than the three moves from the lesson and let you know that perhaps you shouldn’t have asked her to dance. Your confidence had taken such a knock that suddenly you were struggling to dance the moves a few minutes earlier you had performed so fluently. ‘I wish I hadn’t asked her. It really set me back.’ ‘Was that it then,’ his friend was even less supportive than yesterday, when he had questioned his motives for choosing dancing over the gym. ‘I just stood there watching everybody else dancing. They were all so good.’
You had thought about whether dancing had been such a good idea. You’d tried. That was something. You were thinking about leaving when a women, also wearing a beginner’s sticker, tapped you on the shoulder. ‘How did you get on?’ He remembered her from the lesson. She had introduced herself but he couldn’t remember her name, which wasn’t surprising as everything about the last hour, including the three dance moves, was a vague memory. ‘Ellie.’ ‘Yes sorry, I’m Peter.’ ‘So Peter are you going to the beginners refresher class? I found it really helpful last week.’
From somewhere you found a little piece of your self belief and helped by Ellie’s obvious enthusiasm you decided to give the second class a go. ‘I found that last session a little gruelling.’ ‘I was the same last week, but it gets better and its great fun. I couldn’t wait to come back again.’ You couldn’t help wonder if it hadn’t been for Ellie whether you would have given up there and then. You now remembered a moment that had made you smile. ‘Peter meet Robert, he’s a beginner too.’ ‘Is it your first week?’ ‘No its my fourth.’ ‘So are you enjoying it as much as Ellie.’ ‘I’m afraid not. I’m thinking of giving up.’ ‘You can’t do that. Ellie says its fun and anyway we beginners should stick together.’ ‘Yes boys no quitting.’
to be continued…