Monday, August 07, 2006

Being social in dance

Hula and I have been taking swing lessons the past month. We started a new series last week. Even though we have seen the same faces once a week, it's still a challenge to learn everyone's names. The men would probably say the same thing, so there's no hard feelings for asking.

While I love dancing, standing like a wallflower, waiting for someone to ask you to dance can be excrutiating. There are some people who never or rarely ask me to dance whom I've enjoyed dancing with in the past. I can't help wonder why. I've been going swing dancing long enough to not take it too personally; it's just dancing after all. Still, I want to know what I could do better to entice the more interesting people to approach me. This would be good not only for dancing social etiquette but with meeting people in general.

Maybe it's imaginary, but I feel like many of my friends are more desirable dance partners. Hula is a cute, semi-petite in height, and thin woman who dances well. When I observe her at a distance, she's either dancing or talking with some guy. Her friendly smile and gentle voice probably make a huge difference in helping the guy feel at ease.

On the other hand, I dance with guys, but rarely hold any conversations with them. Is it me or them? What is it about me that seems so unattractive. I'm not as cute or as feminine as Hula, but I'm not ugly. Do I have body language that says "leave me alone" or "what do you want?" I try to smile, stand with good posture, and keep my arms in an open position, but can't seem to catch the attention of the decent dancers. There's always someone else they want to grab. We all have to dance with the beginners and awkward guys, and I do my part. But why then can't I have a small share of the good ones too?

Once or twice I've thought about making conversation with a guy after dancing. Frankly, I have no idea what to say. I just suck at interesting small talk (i.e. going beyond coming to dance, jobs, and where people live). How do I know when a guy wants to chat or walk away and dance with someone new?

For those not familiar with swing dancing, the environment is different than say, salsa dancing. People don't drink any alcohol; we drink lots of water. Most people who swing dance do it for the pure art and enjoyment. It's not really a pick-up scene (though, of course, some people do hook up). The crowd is very friendly. A salsa person came to watch once and commented (disappointingly) that it's "clean, wholesome dancing." For the most part, it's probably a fair observation (compared to salsa), but when the music is right, you'll see some pretty sexy movements.

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