Ballroom Dance > Close to giving up.

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by dgarstang, May 10, 2013.

  1. dgarstang

    dgarstang Member

    I am so close to giving up on dancing. The only reason I may might be that when I go out and try and dance, at least I can kid myself that I'm at least not sitting at home alone.

    Yet another evening at a dance party was spent sitting down. This has been going on in varying degrees for months. First we got the confidence issue. That's always there. Dancing is supposed to help in social situations. In my case, if often just makes it worse.

    However, right now, the overwhelming feeling is one of frustration. I was watching the dance board tonight. Samba... nope don't know that beyond a basic. Viennese waltz, nope... don't know that either... rumba... yawn, boring. West Coast Swing... meh.. I just don't get that dance, it seems made up to me, and so on.

    The place I go to for my group classes, Cheryl Burke Dance, in Mountain View is making life difficult. They keep canceling classes. Tango was going alone fine and got cancelled at about Beginner Level 4. Rumba never got started, and the first beginner class was cancelled... I was the only one that signed up. Hustle was cancelled a few months ago. There was a cha-cha class but it has disappeared from the schedule as well. There's an east-coast swing, but I missed the earlier classes and I don't want to pick it up half way through. I've never seen them even offer a Viennese Waltz class. They don't have west coast swing series classes at all I don't think.

    To be interested in the parties, I need to be learning stuff in group classes. I've stuck with the foxtrot and waltz classes since the beginning, which are now up to Intermediate 4. However, by the time I've sat out the party up to the point where a waltz or foxtrot comes up, I'm a mess of lack of confidence and frustration. If I do dance a foxtrot or a waltz, there's a good chance the follower won't even know what I'm doing, and I'm back to doing basic steps again. Not fun. For me, if there isn't a new step or something to try out, I really don't have an interest in the dance. I'm way past being interested in dancing rumba boxes. I want more than that.

    I tried their Saturday night hustle beginner class but I just couldn't keep up. He puts everyone in a circle around him which makes it impossible to copy his steps. If I can't do it, I can't lead it, and I drop out. As for their drop in classes, they are either FBO or intermediate. How about something in between?

    The point of dancing to me is to continually be learning new things, and be able to apply those at parties. When there are no series group classes, I'm not learning new things, and therefore my interest bottoms out. Social dancing, ie doing basics over and over holds no interest for me.

    Really not sure what to do here. :(

  2. Gorme

    Gorme Active Member

    I see a bunch of excuses here. Either something is too basic and boring or it's too hard and you quit. Why don't you hire a private instructor and ask her to teach you a bunch of steps for the dances that you want to do? The cost of one lesson will be approximately the cost of one month of group class that you miss out on.

    Other than that, perhaps you need to take up activities that doesn't require social interactions with the opposite gender.
  3. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Doug: This is something that might help with the classes that you are finding just a bit tough... it's definitely more work than just showing up for class, but it works!

    For a variety of reasons, I'm jumping into classes at a higher level than I am technically ready for (as in, don't have the pre-requisites or any experience in that dance, but start them at level 3, the highest group class level offered at my studio). The only way I make it work is to do a bit of work before the class ever starts - I watch it online (comps, etc.), search for reputable tutorials online and go over at least a couple of the basic steps. That way, on day one of the more advanced class at least some of it is familiar.

    Then, in between classes, I practice like crazy. Because the steps are all new to me, I need more repetitions in order to hit the same level of comfort as the other students.

    Another option I'd suggest is to check out other studios in the area. Unless you've done the chain and contract thing (not sure whether your studio falls into that category), there's no reason to be married to taking class at only one place. If you explain the issue to your studio, they might even suggest a good place to check out for things they don't offer - or work with you on another solution.

    Finally, I'd echo the private lesson option. While a more expensive way to go about learning dances, I often find that I learn as much in my privates as I do in several group classes, making it really about the same cost.
  4. Janson

    Janson Active Member

    I think a lot of the answers, or at least potential answers are easily there to explore. If you go to a social dance and only know/like a couple of the dances, well then it's not going to be 100% successful. Having said that: when a dance does come on that you know - go and grab someone quick! Equally you can talk to people in between as much as possible.
    However I would recommend choosing the dances you want to do and find a suitable social dance that caters towards them.

    I also echo the feelings of trying another studio and trying out some private lessons. At the end of you post you mentioned 'social dancing holds no interest for me'; whilst I think it's worth exploring the options mentioned above - have you thought about dancing for other reasons? Showcases and competitions - or simply learning for the sake of improvement - are what keep a lot of people interested.
  5. 3wishes

    3wishes Well-Known Member

    Take a day off, and re-read your original post. You want new steps, "the point of dancing, etc", learn new things, could not keep up to copy steps, interest bottoms out, "I'm way past being interested in dancing rumba boxes."....
    Here are some suggestions for you, as a lead.
    1) Sign up for a dance camp. Not a one day-er, but a multi-day dance camp. You can also get private instruction at these camps as well. The "bang for the buck" is amazing and many of them have hours of general dancing in the evening or early afternoon.
    2) Buy some DVD's. For the dances you actually are interested in learning more about. PRACTICE at home to the DVD's, it's easy enough to copy the steps in your own private space.
    3) Find someone, a practice partner, at your home studio or otherwise, possibly a neighbor might be interested...realize it's just for practice...ask around.
    4) Take a few private instructor lessons, not a group class. Use your cell phone/video option - to "film" the step/patterns. Use this at home, travel, anywhere. to practice with.
    5) There are plenty of places that offer drop-in group lesson rates, and group dances, and scheduled socials. Search on-line, ask around, visit colleges and universities where there is a dance team, many offer community style dances of various degrees.
    Every dance discipline, be it WCS, CW, Contemporary, Ballroom, etc, has basic figures that are the foundation for the more intricate figures in any dance. Use a practice partner for the opportunity to build up your own dancing. And find a studio that has a more consistent schedule that meets your needs.
    Mr 4 styles and SwayWithMe like this.
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    when a person never participates other than to start threads about themselves, in which they are impervious to advice, one has to begin to consider the merits of responding...


    dance is hard, it is not ideal...if you cannot cope with that....yes, you should probably consider quitting.
    wooh and danceronice like this.
  7. llamasarefuzzy

    llamasarefuzzy Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you are getting very frustrated with the studio especially- maybe try to find another studio as well?
    As far as the suggestion of private lessons- I think that is an excellent idea! While private lessons are always super helpful, I find they are especially helpful when I've hit a plateau.
    Also, its been my observation that the learning curve for leaders is much higher at the beginning in regards to social dancing. In order to get better, it is important to do those dances that you only know the basics and get "bored" doing. That's the only way to get better! Otherwise, if you don't dance them in social situations, how else would you get better at dancing socially in that style?
  8. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Yep. Either find an alternative to the group classes that aren't helping, (sounds like private lessons would be the ideal) and accept that you're going to have to get over your social anxiety issues if you want to get anything out of social dances, or find a hobby that doesn't require social interaction.
  9. LordBallroom

    LordBallroom Member

    Guys, I can say very confidently that this guy doesn't need to hear the whole "suck it up" routine. He's a beginner that is looking for a good time and to meet new people but right now he's not getting his primary benefit. The real problem is that he is despairing about his chances of ever receiving it. You don't talk to a newbie the same as you do a seasoned competitor lest you scare him away. Doug, as a teacher I specialize in dealing with students in your exact situations. The reason you don't enjoy certain dances, or at least appreciate them, is that at your level you've only done step patterns. It's when you really start adding technique the hip motion in the rhythm dances, staccato movement in tango, and swing and sway in the rest of the smooth dances that you really start to "feel" the dance. The reason you don't feel confident leading a lady is because the classes you've taken haven't given you confidence. Most group classes are just designed to teach you foot patterns. They don't work on leading and following technique as much. That being the case, they are really better for people who at least have a foundation in that technique. The concern with private lessons is that frankly it's hit or miss when it comes to trying to find a good instructor. You need to ask around your local dance community, ideally beyond just the one studio you go to, for a recommendation on a teacher. I realize it is expensive. However, you can get the value that you paid out of your lesson if you take what that instructor gives you and try to work it into your dancing. Make sure you work everything they say. That way when you come back for a next lesson, you'll have questions for your teacher about applying that new technique that popped into your mind while you were practicing.
    slhull.13 likes this.
  10. freeageless

    freeageless Active Member

    Doug, In a prior thread I believe that you stated that you had spent thousands of dollars on private lessons in your short time taking dance-and that they had not helped you with the social anxiety. You now state that the group classes are not helpful. I believe you. That may be why lot of people quit. I would not continue spending lots of money on lessons and classes that I did not find helpful. I would recommend that you read a very recent post by DWise1 in the General Dance Forum. I suspect that you may find what he says helpful. Scroll down till you get to his post. See below for link. Hope it helps.
  11. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    Learning a box step doesn't automagically make you more confident. The thing about dance that can make you more confident is that it forces you to interact with people, while giving you a good excuse (dancing) to do so. THAT'S WHAT'S MAKING IT FEEL "WORSE" - you're actually doing something about it. Building confidence is difficult - if it was easy, wouldn't you have gotten over it already?

    So basically all the dances are boring, or you don't know them?

    No. They're not boring, not unless you find all partner dancing boring. You 1) don't know enough steps (or more likely, lead/follow) yet to make them interesting, and 2) are telling yourself they're boring so you don't feel like you're chickening out by not doing them.

    Change studios if possible. Look into taking private lessons. Find a practice partner to work on lead/follow. Stop dropping out of things that are "too hard" and then complaining that you don't know dances.

    Life is hard. Dance is hard. Few problems are solved immediately and without hard work... or without a few failures along the way.

    Honestly, aside from dance-related advice, I'd advise you to do something to curb your excuse-making. Every time you make an excuse to not do something, snap a rubber band on your wrist or add a quarter to a jar, or something. Or just say "f*** it, I'm not going to make an excuse this time," and go do it. It sounds like you're being your own roadblock here.
    danceronice likes this.
  12. Gorme

    Gorme Active Member

    He wants someone to be nice to him and hold his hand through the entire journey. At the same time, she must know all her stuff and be able to do this on the cheap. The only way someone is willing to do this is if you have something to offer her that she wants. That may be money or other things that she lacks (friendship, practice partner, etc.). Until you find someone like that, you have to grind it out like the rest of us.
    danceronice likes this.
  13. raindance

    raindance Well-Known Member

    I agree with a lot of what LordBallroom posted above. Going back to private lessons may be beneficial for you in that you can pick which dances to work on, pick whether to do new patterns or get more comfortable with old ones, pick whether to work on leading technique or other techniques, etc. I agree that teachers really vary and it may take some networking and/or trial and error to find one that is a really good fit for you. Have there been any group lesson teachers you really clicked with or enjoyed their teaching style? If so, they may be worth a try. A teacher outside of the chain environment may be really open to letting you customize your own personal lesson plan in a way that really works for you. Or you may run into a teacher where they have great ideas about how to get social dancers going and more comfortable, and you may be able to follow her program and advice. Either way, something customized to you.

    Group lessons sometimes work better as a way to meet other dancers (and maybe practice a bit, or maybe get introduced to a new pattern/sequence) than as a way to learn much actual dancing. If you can look at groups as a chance to meet/interact/dance a bit with a variety of followers, and not look at the groups as a place to "learn cha cha" you may actually end up getting more out of the group in the big picture. Beginner groups (where you may already know the sequence and can focus on meeting and dancing with the followers that rotate to you) might actually be better for you than groups that challenge you with new material at the moment. Or maybe a mix of different types of groups, if you want to continue trying to learn new things in groups.

    I also wonder if you might need some help in setting realistic expectations for social dancing. You sound conflicted about whether you really want to do it, or whether you actually do not like it at all. I think part of that conflict is that you expect social dancing to be different than how it is. As someone mentioned above, beginning (and intermediate) leaders benefit from a lot of practice doing the same few basic steps for each dance with a lot of different partners. (Also throwing in other patterns here and there as they get more comfortable, but that's not necessarily the main point.) Getting so comfortable with those basics that you can enjoy the dance, the music, and the lady takes a lot of repetition of those boring rumba boxes and similar basic steps in other dances. Expecting to be able to successfully lead new patterns (that you just learned in group that night or that month) in a social situation is setting yourself up for disappointment. Also keep in mind that the experience level of the ladies will vary greatly. You might have honed a great lead for a particular pattern. But by chance, the lady you ask to foxtrot that night might not have ever seen that pattern before, or might be missing some skills that are needed to do it successfully with you, might be used to a different style of lead, might be distracted by seeing a friend come into the room, or whatever. Go a bit easier on yourself, try to lead ladies through those boring basics you already know, and give yourself time to get more comfortable.

    Maybe have an instructor teach you a short basic routine for several dances - e.g. a short waltz, foxtrot, cha cha, etc. Ask them to put in a small variety of moves that most ladies are likely to be able to follow. You don't have to stick to those routines when social dancing, but it would give you a place to start and also a fallback when other patterns aren't working for you. Keep in mind some ladies will only be able to successfully follow beginner patterns anyway. It's good to have a plan for those followers.

    I don't think dancing by itself makes social anxiety easier to deal with. What dancing does is it puts you into social situations regularly, which gives you a chance to work on that anxiety. It also puts you into social situations where there are general etiquette rules and whatnot, that can potentially make it easier to approach new people, or to get to know people over time. (e.g. Ladies expect men to ask them to dance, so as a general rule, you can feel relatively safe approaching a lady you don't know and asking her to dance, etc. Running into ladies elsewhere and striking up a casual non-threatening interaction could be more challenging.) Whether you are able to use dance to deal with your social anxiety is up to you. Maybe it is a good venue for you, maybe it isn't. But overall I think it is not a bad place to work on getting more comfortable with social interactions. Try to use the time you are not dancing (those dances you don't know or like) to get to know other dancers (male and female), rather than fuming that the DJ is not playing the dance you want.

    If social dancing is not your thing, you might enjoy pro-am showcases or competition, where you can really work on your own skills at your own pace.

    Just some thoughts... dance is not easy. In the end it is up to you whether you want to keep putting in the effort. But between my posts and others, I hope you get some ideas of how to work at it a bit differently if you do want to keep at it. Personally I would like to keep reading about your journey and hope that you find your way through the dance world successfully. Either way I wish you well.
  14. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    please read the last jillion soft and gentle hand holding threads that have occurred with this poster, before you judge that
    danceronice likes this.
  15. Gorme

    Gorme Active Member

    Adding money into a jar is good. Every time you chicken out on something, add a dollar into the jar.

    There is a couple that fights all the time. They use the same rule, if either person makes a complaint, that person has to put $1 into the jar. After one month, they found out that they had enough money to take a vacation to Europe.
    dbk likes this.
  16. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I think most people here are extremely sympathetic and understanding of the frustrations of newcomers...I think that people here have been immensely supportive of this identical ways many times...I think some of us realize that there is a point in time beyond which a person has to simply accept the imperfections of their scenario and buck up and focus on the positive...or stop doing it
  17. LordBallroom

    LordBallroom Member

    Doug, if it's true that you've spent thousands on private lessons and still haven't received what you were looking for, I'd encourage you to find a new teacher and/or studio. A good dance teacher is able to do far more than teach you steps. As they get to know you ,through their intuition, they can gauge where you are at emotionally and know when to either push you harder to step out of your comfort zone or back off. They can get a feeling for your personality, preferences, and goals and be able to provide the appropriate remedy. As I said, finding a good instructor in the ballroom world is really hit or miss. And sometimes the right instructor for you is not the right instructor for someone else. I encourage you to shop around for instructors. I think there's probably one out there that's perfect for you. Just listening to what you're saying, it doesn't sound insurmountable or even uncommon. I promise you there is a fix for this.
  18. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Exactly. I was going to say, LordBallroom, go look up this poster's history. He's not brand-new and he pretty much says the same thing each time. Heck, some posters have offered real-life, in-person help. Hand-holding has been tried, it's more at the point of 'suck it up, buttercup' now. Dancing is not a magic problem-solver. dbk's right, at this point it's more about excuse-making and that needs to stop. You have to own your own roadblocks. And raindance is right, there probably needs to be some reevaluation of goals for social dancing.
    Gorme likes this.
  19. leee

    leee Well-Known Member

    Doug, have you tried other AM studios? I know that your experience in RC was wanting, but if a warm collegial atmosphere (i.e. hand-holding), both from instructors and students, is of paramount importance to you, then can I suggest the one further down 85 from where CBD is?
  20. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    And OP, I had two very pleasant dances at the last two parties i got to go to with a BRAND NEW beginner, who only had time to take a few weeks of lessons before he was moving out of the country. He knew next to nothing as far as patterns went and I had enough fun with him I made a point of mentioning to his pro how much I enjoyed dancing with him. It was CLEAR he was a newbie, he didn't know a huge variety, and I did not care. He smiled, he was nice, he tried, he didn't attempt to muscle me around or show off, and it was FUN. I do not need the world's most advanced lead to have fun at a party. Most follows don't.
    j_alexandra and SwayWithMe like this.

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