Dancing in dance clubs
May 8, 2005 4:30 PM   Subscribe

How do you start dancing with girls/guys you don't know in clubs?

As a non-dancer and someone pretty unfamiliar with club culture's ways, I've always been sort of fascinated by people who can start dancing with strangers in a way that leads to, what, making out, drinks, more dancing, maybe a one-night stand, maybe a relationship? I have no idea, but I kind of want to be a part of it, and I don't know how. I suppose that probably automatically precludes me from it, huh? So how do you go from dancing by yourself to dancing with someone else?
posted by Big Fat Tycoon to Human Relations (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
One thing you can't fake is enjoying yourself while you're dancing. I find that you either are or aren't so I'd say your best bet is to find somewhere that you like the music and can actually bust a move to (drinking helps) and if you're enjoying yourself girls will eventually just start shaking their asses at you (they're probably drunk as well). It also helps if a lot of people are dancing, being one of two people dancing in a place where most people are just standing around rarely works.
posted by mike_bling at 4:44 PM on May 8, 2005

This thread and this thread might be of help.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:52 PM on May 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

Basically, you dance by yourself, then someone notices you, then you notice them noticing you, then you start dancing closer and closer until you're dancing together.

This naturally begs the question: How do I dance by myself and not look like an idiot? The answer is: pretend you're so into the music that you don't care that you're alone or dancing like a spaz.

Alternatively, you could just ask someone if they care to dance. But, as the saying goes, If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it.

As mike_bling suggests, alcohol can help.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:14 PM on May 8, 2005

Just start dancing. If you look like you're having fun, some girl will start dancing with you.
posted by jonmc at 5:31 PM on May 8, 2005

It also helps a lot if you're physically attractive. Just sayin'.
posted by robbie01 at 6:33 PM on May 8, 2005

It also helps a lot if you can dance. Just sayin'.
posted by randomstriker at 8:03 PM on May 8, 2005

First, make sure you're a decent dancer. Ok, at least get the basics of dancing down. It's the stupidest sounding and easiest thing ever to begin. All you do is step on the beat. Like pretend you're actually stepping on it. March or walk in place or whatever, but lift your foot just slightly and put it down on the beat. Putting it down on the kick drum is a good start. Do that for a little while. Pretty soon (especially with a drink or two) your feet are going to stray to the side.

The stupid sounding part is that you can look like you know what you're doing if your right foot takes one step to the right, goes back to its normal spot below your shoulders, and then your left foot does the same thing, all on the beat. Eventually you can go backwards as well. Then you can throw in very slight (and seemingly useless and inefficient) hip movements as well.

I swear to god, dude, in a few dedicated nights-out of dancing, you will be able to dance. Just take an interest in it. Practice in front of a mirror when no one else is around with some music. If you have any trusted gay friends, act kind of embarassed and have them teach you the basics (gays almost ALWAYS know how to dance well). It's not like being able to memorize every number in the phone book, you can actually learn how to do this, but first you need the basics.

Once you are comfortable on the dance floor (really, you can be an effective dancer, but if you were to turn off all the music and turn the lights on but everyone continued dancing, almost everybody would look like they were just shifting their weight around back and forth. Imagine this sometime, it's creepy.), you can begin dancing with others. Comfortable is the key word, because you're not going to be doing anything special with a girl on the dance floor. You are going to initiate a conversation, you are going to hold her attention, and both of you will happen to be dancing at the same time. Ta daaaa!

That's all it takes. I swear, man, that's all there is to it. I would pour my heart out to you if I were telling you this in person: you can do this.

p.s. And btw, robbie01 is wrong, it's all in the attitude and vibe.
posted by redteam at 8:07 PM on May 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

It sure isn't Violently Dry Humping your 'partner'.

Anyone really dancing (not some elaboratly practiced 'dance') looks like a moron with the lights on and the music off. A 'good dancer' doesn't give a shit. It's all confidence. People may laugh at you, but they're laughing at you.
posted by blasdelf at 8:36 PM on May 8, 2005

jonmc and redteam are right. People dance with others who look like they are having fun--even if they are dancing like a total spaz. I mean, it's not exactly like the trendy mating ritual is the foxtrot, you know? It's about having a good time, not following a script. So long as you are enjoying yourself, others will too.

That said, it's weird to just dance with your feet. It sounds dumb, but if you are looking for something to do with your arms, almost any swimming stroke will do. Just miniaturize it in front of your body. Don't flail (you'll put an eye out!), but move those arms around as you move your feet!

If you are feeling the music, get your head into it. This will also relax you.

The right club is important. This is easier in a big city. Just as you don't go to a gay club if you're straight, don't go to a techno club if you like swing better (then again, if you can swing dance, you're probably doing ok already). The crowd makes the night, the music makes the moment, and if you are comfortable with both, then chances are, someone will be comfortable dancing with you.

Finally, with a touch of liquid courage, "hi, you're hot, wanna dance?" delivered without looking at your feet is a great way to start--a seldom seen creature that we all find sexy, despite the forthrightness.
posted by CaptApollo at 8:43 PM on May 8, 2005

I think most ladies have had their fair share of random guys walking up and trying to freak dance with them. A glance and a smile are not open invitations. I stopped looking at other people for a while while I danced because it just invites misfortune when everyone has had a few drinks.

So, find a girl, make eye contact, move closer to her spot on the dance floor. Don't invade her personal space or touch her. If she wants to dance with you, then she'll dance with you. Buy her a drink afterward. It works.

Also, if a girl turns around and starts dancing with her girlfriend and tries not to look at you then that is a pretty positive sign of rejection. There are so many men who think that is an invitation to dance with both girls. Just. back. away.

Lastly, relax, smile and enjoy yourself.
posted by Alison at 10:08 PM on May 8, 2005

Finally, with a touch of liquid courage, "hi, you're hot, wanna dance?" delivered without looking at your feet is a great way to start

Tried that once, got a withering look and the perfect response: "I am dancing."
posted by nicwolff at 10:31 PM on May 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

Alison, oh my god, thank you for putting those instructions in writing. The "if a girl turns around and starts dancing with her girlfriend and tries not to look at you" strategy always seems SO CLEAR to me when i'm doing it, but guys generally just don't get it usually just keep trying. Thank you for putting it down in green and white. At least a few guys will understand now.
posted by Kololo at 1:01 AM on May 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

Find yourself a salsa club that offers beginner lessons before the main evening of dancing starts, most of the time you don't need a partner to learn the basic stuff. Then you have the advantage of being the earnest n00b and can chat up a girl by saying something like "Hey, this is my first night salsaing, may I have this dance?"
posted by sciurus at 3:16 AM on May 9, 2005

From the fact you're asking this question, you probably don't think you're a great dancer. Have your dancer friends take you out and show you some moves, or if you don't have any good dancer friends take some lessons

I have some friends from high school who are beautiful semi-pro dancers. And I don't care how unattractive you are, if you can move they will spend all night dancing with you. Most girls can tell within 5 seconds if they're gonna dance with you or not, and most of it is based on how well you can dance/how much fun you're having doing it.

And I really second what sciurus said. It'll teach you moves that you can use in almost any club situation and it'll get you used to dancing with random women where it's expected you dance with a ton of random women in a night without being sketchy
posted by slapshot57 at 6:39 AM on May 9, 2005

"Have your dancer friends take you out and show you some moves, or if you don't have any good dancer friends take some lessons"
Just go to the club and watch other people dancing. Pay attention to what they're wearing. Imitate them in both respects, while adding enough Big Fat Tycoon variations that you don't feel like too much of a follower.

"So how do you go from dancing by yourself to dancing with someone else?"
A lot of the people you see hooking up are regulars. Keep going to the same place for a few months, and people of the appropriate sex ("How do you start dancing with girls/guys you don't know in clubs?") will get used to having you around. Chat 'em up one week, and it'll be easier to dance with 'em some other night. If you can get the DJs to like you and talk to you, that might get you noticed more, too.

"gays almost ALWAYS know how to dance well"
Gay. It's the new black.
posted by mistersix at 7:24 AM on May 9, 2005

I am a graduate of the Mark Walker School of Dance, which teaches two fundamental rules:

1. Always look up
2. Always act completely serious

This is basically the same thing as others have said above. Also, I find that knowing the songs you're dancing to helps your confidence and therefore your movements. For example, I tend to go to 80's/indie pop dance nights, so knowing the proper times to act melodramatic during Cure songs earns points.
posted by patgas at 7:29 AM on May 9, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips, folks. I will clarify what was driving the question -- I don't think I'm a bad dancer, and in fact, based on what I've seen at clubs the few times I've been, I'm probably decent.

I suppose for me, I just wasn't sure what the etiquette was when you see someone hot across the way and you want to engage them while on the dancefloor, since the only thing I've done whenever on a dancefloor is dance, usually with girls that I'm already with. That's usually the only reason I've ever danced, frankly, because it's not something I'd naturally choose to do on my own. That said, seeing how well it works for some people as a means of meeting new people (and as a friend said, it's the last primal means of communication we have), I was like, dang, why aren't I participating in that? And I realized I didn't really know how.

On a related note, at concerts and/or on dancefloors, there've been occasions when girls have started bumping into me with their asses, and sometimes I just can't tell if it's random "hey we're in a crowded place, bump bump" kind of collisions, or if they're intentional? On the recent night out that prompted this question, there were several girls that weren't really looking at me but were dancing a little closer than I would have expected (obviously, if they were bumping into me). Am I just really clueless?
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 7:49 AM on May 9, 2005

Try bumping her back, then apply the Alison test.
posted by flabdablet at 8:31 AM on May 9, 2005

Others seem have covered all the important things: have fun, dance well, eye contact.

Alison's got it, too. People notice the tool who's dancing at a girl who wants nothing to do with him. Don't be that guy.
posted by ThePants at 9:39 AM on May 9, 2005

Missed that last comment by Big Fat Tycoon with the new question.

If there's enough room, move away a bit... not a lot, just enough to be out of 'bumping' range, a couple inches, and see if she's still bumping.

and then, as flabddablet suggests, follow Alison's advice
posted by ThePants at 9:42 AM on May 9, 2005

yeah, just start being more foreward and be prepared for being shot down. All those guys you see with girls get shot down 90% of the time anyways. They just always have someone because they just keep at it.

but just know that a pet peeve a lot of the girls I know have is guys who just start grinding on their ass without them knowing who it is. So try and make sure they see you before you go bumping
posted by slapshot57 at 9:46 AM on May 9, 2005 [1 favorite]

No, you don't have to be attractive or know how to dance. Just relax and have fun. Focus on the beat, sing along to the music, and have a big old, goofy smile on your face. If you look like you're having a great time by yourself then they'll come to you.

As for approaching girls out of the blue, it comes down to the basics. I never actually ask since she's not going to hear you over the music anyways. The best way is usually a light touch, tap her on the shoulder or on the elbow. She's going to turn and look at you and either smile and look away (in which case the chase is on), she'll turn and start dancing with you, or she'll not smile and move closer to her friends and away from you. (There's also a possibility her man will notice and intervene in which case you have to decide how much you like her.)

Once the fun starts just maintain eye contact and smile. When it comes to the physical aspect don't be too aggressive, but let her know you're interested and back off. (Actually for some women, not touching them at all makes them more aggressive.) Ultimately, I guess it comes down to focusing on your partner. Smell her perfume, touch her hair, compliment her.

Don't be timid. Timid guys are a huge turn off. If a girl bumps you, bump her back. Bump her even if she hasn't bumped you. She'll either acknolowedge you and respond or she'll politely ignore it.

You can meet a lot of new people this way but I'd suggest not being too aggressive. Women know pretty much immediately when a guy is on the prowl and they'll avoid him like the plague. Your first priority is having a good time--focus on that and the rest'll fall into place.
posted by nixerman at 10:23 AM on May 9, 2005

If your goal is really a series of one-night stands (which are hugely overrated) then you've just got to be more honest. Grab her ass, make lewd jokes, fix her hair, look deeply into her eyes and try to kiss her, and stare at her breasts. She'll pick up quickly on what you want and either run far away or she'll respond in kind. In this case, being good looking and rich enough to keep the drinks coming helps a lot but you're not going to meet any really interesting people this way. Generally, guys like this are creeps and only attract other creeps.

By the same token if you want a relationship tell her you want to see her again and make the date right there. Buy her lots of stuff. Ask her personal questions so it's clear you want to know more about her. I'd not appear too clingy; often I tell a girl not to leave the club without me and give her my cellphone number and then I purposefully avoid her for an hour or so. This works pretty much all the time and has the side benefit of putting the ball completely in her court--plus she gets your phone number.
posted by nixerman at 10:38 AM on May 9, 2005

I would back off on telling her point-blank, "You're hot" and simply ask if she wanted to dance. Sometimes, women go dancing just for the sake of it and not to hook up.
posted by brujita at 11:33 PM on May 9, 2005

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