How can I start dancing?
March 20, 2006 1:47 AM   Subscribe

I can only dance when I'm drunk.

When going to a night club or to a party with friends, I often hit the dancefloor after having a couple of drinks and really enjoy dancing then.

When I'm not drunk, however, I just can not dance: My legs seem to be locked. In fact, I had no idea how to do "that dancing thing" at all until about two years ago I got really drunk, people dragged me onto the dancefloor, and I just started dancing.

I now sometimes even get drunk simply because I really want to dance.

How can I unlock my legs and start dancing without drinking?

Additional note:
I don't think I'm a good dancer, but maybe that's just due to lack of experience. When I turn to female friends on the dancefloor, they always politely ignore me and turn to another friend they then dance with. But, then again, that may be because I'm not exactly great-looking.

Yet another note: I have Asperger's.
posted by bloo to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)

I think the other threads that koenie have linked will probably cover it, but my take on the issue is as follows.
  • Everybody feels (or has felt at one time) self-conscious about their dancing.
  • You will only enjoy yourself on the dance floor once you stop caring what other people will think.
  • As long as you seem to be genuinely enjoying yourself (i.e. moving in a natural and not contrived or forced way) you can pretty much do whatever you want (within reason) without anyone thinking any less of you.
  • Whatever you end up doing on the dance floor, it has to reflect some genuine emotion that the music evokes in you. This means that the following don't usually work very well: dancing to music that you can't or don't enjoy; dancing when you really aren't moved by the music; dancing where you're trying to emulate some kind of gesture that you don't actually feel.
So the thing that being drunk brings to the table is that it knocks down your inhibition, and you cease caring what other people think. After that everything falls into place. Try focusing on the idea of just moving in whatever fashion the music makes you feel, and try to turn off the part that wonders if people are looking at you funny.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:11 AM on March 20, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for your comments so far. I've read the other threads on learning how to dance and they were mostly about dancing in general - I know how to do that, it's just that I can't do it without being drunk.

I guess it's all about not caring what other people think. However, "turning off the part that wonders if people are looking at you funny" doesn't seem so easy.

I don't stand there thinking: "Oh, I would just start dancing, but the others might think I'm an idiot". It's more like: "Boy, I really want to dance with the others, but I can not move my legs."
posted by bloo at 3:30 AM on March 20, 2006

Best answer: Could you practice dancing by yourself at home first? That might help you get figure out what exactly it takes to get rid of that anxiety that keeps you from starting. Just turn up some music and groove :)
posted by sugarfish at 6:19 AM on March 20, 2006

Best answer: You need to confess to your friends that you're dying to dance but you can't get the nerve up. They can help you:

1. You dance with friends at home with the lights down low. This gets you used to dancing while others watch. Don't do this just once. Do this a lot. Make little home dance parties a practice. If they like dancing, they will love you for it. You get the latest hits and you get together and learn how to dance to them in the goofy privacy of your own home. For just one or two songs whenever you get the chance, make them dance. Become a dance maniac.

2. You go out with these same friends and dance the exact same dances to the exact same music with them in a supportive cluster that knows very well not to leave you hanging in nervous city. If they know you are nervous, they will be good to you. Focus on your friends, not everyone else.

3. Dance in familiar places if you can help it. Don't go club hopping. Once you find a comfortable place where you can dance without locking up, try to make that your dance spot.

But remember: lots of us, maybe even most of us, can't dance without being drunk to some extent. That's why we dance in drinking establishments. You go out, you have a couple of drinks (not too many), and then you dance.
posted by pracowity at 7:39 AM on March 20, 2006

Response by poster: Practicing at home and talking to my friends both seem great ideas I for some reason haven't thought of.

Thanks, I will try that.
posted by bloo at 8:29 AM on March 20, 2006

I suggest you ask yourself if you're completely at ease when you start dancing and are drunk or if you're just more willing to start out and ignore your initial discomfort. Sometimes you have to just pretend being at ease before you can actually be at ease, a fact that applies to a lot of things other than just dancing.

Grit your teeth and start dancing, copying other people if you can't think of anything else to do. If you really enjoy it some things will feel right and others won't. If you're anything like me you'll pass by that initial discomfort and start enjoying yourself in short order.

If you've tried that and it's not doing it for you then maybe you just need to practice and wean yourself off using the booze as an enhancement drug. You'll get more at ease as you feel more competent and presumably need to be less liquored up.

As far as being any good, dancing is a definite bell-curve activity. A small group of people are really good or really horrid and most of the rest of us just muddle through with occasional moments of incompetence and brilliance. Like most things, the important thing is that you enjoy yourself doing it - that's the only real barometer of if you're a Good Dancer.
posted by phearlez at 9:25 AM on March 20, 2006

this is coming from someone who used to be terrified of dancing and now has a reputation as a really good dancer:

dance with your eyes closed. seriously.

it helps you forget that people might be watching (they aren't, unless they're attracted to you, in which case, all the better), and it helps you "connect" with the music more. and i'd have to agree with previous comments that it's really about having some sort of emotional/pre-intellectual connection with the music. it's a groove thing, hear?

don't keep them closed the entire time, obviously. but just use it to recharge yourself every now and then.

and don't be afraid to start slow. start with just your hips, or shoulders. let the music work its way in to you. don't force it.

the sexiest dancers are the people who are having fun. leave technique for ballet.
posted by poweredbybeard at 11:34 AM on March 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

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