dancefloor paralysis
April 4, 2010 6:35 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to overcome a morbid fear of dancing?

I can't dance when there's even a small chance that somebody I know might see me. It's not that I feel uncomfortable doing it - my body just freezes up, physically, like a stone, and I have to exit. I've been like this since I was about ten.

I love music, I play several instruments, I have a good sense of rhythm. I just have this extreme phobia.

Substance abuse doesn't help unless I take it to such extremes that I have no recollection of what transpired.

Is there a name for this condition? Have you ever overcome, or do you know someone who has overcome this type of thing?
posted by anonymous to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a name for this condition?

Yes, chorophobia.
posted by amro at 6:39 PM on April 4, 2010

Have you ever tried taking formal lessons? If it becomes something practiced, like playing an instrument, then you might feel more confident.
posted by mikeh at 6:40 PM on April 4, 2010

You can seek treatment for any phobia. I recommend starting by looking through a workbook like this. It'll give you lots of ideas for coping strategies, and maybe shake a few things loose so you can develop a new outlook on your fear. Then, you can decide what further approaches to take, therapy, for example.

Be glad you don't have a phobia like mine, injections, which makes getting proper medical care horrifying, or my bff's arachnophobia which once had her careening off the freeway when there was a spider in the car.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:46 PM on April 4, 2010

I saw a study recently that children and much older folks dance more and don't worry about what they look like. Get old? Maybe this link will have some hints:

Having had a lot of dance lessons I'd try phobia treatments first. But do take dance class!
posted by sammyo at 7:21 PM on April 4, 2010

What kind of dancing? Couples ballroom type, or rock-n-roll, or...?
posted by telstar at 10:15 PM on April 4, 2010

This was (somewhat, still is) a problem for me. Musician with dance paranoia. Super bummer. This is an ongoing project for me-- I'll be damned if I let this ruin my life even once I'm old and grey-- and so far the project seems to be working well. Here's the steps:

Netflix has a ton of (mostly really lame) instructional videos. Get some-- doesn't matter if they're appropriate to what you want to do in public, really-- and practice waltzing/lambada-ing/crumping around in your living room a while. Feels stupid at first of course, but so what. Before long you'll be slightly expert at moving your body rhythmically, which puts you way ahead of most everyone else who dances happily and publically. If you can persuade someone to be your partner at some point, someone who you can be embarrassed and ashamed with, and survive, that's even better. Because once you've danced in front of one person, it's easier to dance in front of two, or ten, or five hundred.

Then get yourself out on a floor in public. Allow yourself to be terrified, but breathe. Unfreeze a little at a time. Lean back and forth a bit. Wiggle a slight amount. There, you're doing it! It's working! No one is staring, they think you're really dancing. Hey, you are dancing. It's fun!

posted by Erroneous at 8:53 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding (thirding?) getting some lessons. I just got done with a six-week class of salsa and cha-cha through the local junior college's extension - graduation involved the entire class going to a local dance hall for the regular Saturday night dance.

My dance experience before this was the slow circling with arms wrapped around each other in the high school gym, and only on the slow songs, never the fast ones. These lessons made all the difference in the world for my confidence.
posted by DandyRandy at 9:15 AM on April 5, 2010

This might earn me some jeers but speaking from personal experience of a horrible, tone deaf, rhythmically challenged "dancer"

Step 1: Go to England
Step 2: Visit a dance club.
Step 3: Observe dancers
Step 4: ???
Step 5: Profit.

Meme aside, I am 100% serious. Nothing got me over my phobia of dancing in public then seeing a bunch of nerdy white kids try to dance in a Cambridge, UK dance club. No one cared at all what they looked like and everyone was having a ton of fun. And most of them were horribe -- and I mean HORRIBLE -- dancers. I still avoid dancing stateside, but my god it was such a great way to get some perspective.
posted by citywolf at 9:59 AM on April 6, 2010

Think about it like this: it is totally ok to lose your shit on the dance floor. Does that sound attractive?
posted by telstar at 5:30 PM on April 25, 2010

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