Do guys really dislike dancing?
December 19, 2003 7:36 PM   Subscribe

Do guys really dislike dancing? Why don't more men join dance classes and why do so many men seem to object to their sons learning to dance?
posted by Tarrama to Society & Culture (25 answers total)
cause you have to show your emotions , men are conditioned not to.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:04 PM on December 19, 2003

i use to like dancing, but then i got out of college, got a job, and had my soul crushed.
posted by Hackworth at 8:33 PM on December 19, 2003

Guys don't dislike dancing - but we are really stupid when it comes to kinetic learning.

I've ballroom danced for 5 years. A friend dragged me kicking and screaming to a local ballroom, and I discovered perhaps there was good reason to spend a few hours cutting a rug. But I learned very slowly - and so has every other guy I know who dances.

The learning slowly thing is coupled with the weird social "guys ask girls to dance" sort of thing. It's a huge blow to my ego, even after 5 years, when I ask a girl to dance at a social event and she turns me down.

I now teach dance classes at a local college, and once again, I find women learn the steps much easier than the men. It's not that we're dense. But in this sort of setting, we are slow, and need to be patiently led through each step.

So yes, it is possible. But there are barriers to overcome. As far as men not wanting their sons to dance - perhaps that's just a ballet stigma? I know if I ever have kids, I'll be delighted if they want to learn dancing.
posted by Happydaz at 8:57 PM on December 19, 2003

I enjoy it quite a bit when I begin to get the hang of it, but I pick up steps and balance (and most of all, grace) slowly. I find that teachers/partners who understand this and how to deal with it are rare, and combine that with a pressed-for-time lifestyle....

I did find a wonderful place, though, not far from my home that I enjoy going. The instructors there are remarkably helpful -- they break things down into the right size chunks, they know that weight on the wrong part of the foot can throw a guy off, and can spot 3-4 of the crowd of thirty doing it wrong and perceptibly illustrate the difference quickly. Combine that with the very layed back atmosphere (very community, all-ages, just have fun) and it adds up to a place I am comfortable going every so often.

On preview: Happydaz nails it.
posted by weston at 8:59 PM on December 19, 2003

Duh, Tarrama. Dance lessons can make sons gay, and if you can keep dancing sons from dancing, you keep them from turning gay.

I love dancing, and bebop my head and steps all over the place. But for me it's probably because I'm less self-conscious, love the exercise, and don't really care what people think, or if I look like an idiot flaying my body around on the floor.
posted by gramcracker at 10:07 PM on December 19, 2003

I'm with you, gramcracker. To wit...
posted by squirrel at 10:36 PM on December 19, 2003

I have always loathed dancing, both in concept and practice.

And I'm a guy. So there's a data point.

I don't know if those two are causally related in any way, however. I have known many men who do enjoy it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:37 PM on December 19, 2003

btw as part of my training i had to learn dancing and it was the one thing i couldnt get.
i kept hearing them counting and forgetting where my feet were and they were not particularly open to helping people, staffed as they are by shrill,controlling men,so i always skived it even though im good at picking up beats and whatnot .
I really never understood why it was necessary to assign a number to your feet, it was like we were working the thing from the outside all the time , couldnt relate to it , plus the terrible music didnt help, i dont care what drama college it is , i am not dancing to fucking whigfield, darling.
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:30 PM on December 19, 2003

i am also a guy, and gay, and i hate dancing. data-point that!

i dunno, i'd just rather drink, or talk. or stare at the wall. anything, really.
posted by rhyax at 12:04 AM on December 20, 2003

Have you ever seen that video of Steve Ballmer, CEO(?) of Microsoft, dancing?

That's why men don't dance.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:36 AM on December 20, 2003

I've always wanted to learn dancing - ballroom, rock and roll, swing, all sorts - and I've probably gone to a few dozen lessons in the past few years. Despite that, I haven't been able to make it stick. Firstly, it's just difficult, especially in dances where you have to improvise. I don't consider myself to be clumsy and I'm not a slow learner, but I still get frustrated when I can't remember the sequences or move properly.

A real problem I have is that I'm self-conscious and am not so good at leading; I suspect this is the same for many men.

Another problem, probably more particular to me (I'm at university), is that when I go to dance classes, the girls seem to learn quicker and many of the guys there are already experienced. This leaves me and the other newbies to look utterly dreadful and a certain amount of depression sets in as we see these great guys lead all the girls off on wonderful dances and we know we can't imitate that. This is maybe a sexist thing to say, but I am convinced that it is much easier for girls to dance and not look crap than it is for guys (especially in ballroom dancing).

And yet I keep on trying :) My best experience is when I was at a swing dancing lesson, and a girl actually came up and asked me to dance! That made it all worth it.
posted by adrianhon at 1:30 AM on December 20, 2003

In the culture I grew up in, Latin-american, it was absolutely essential that you learn to dance if you didnt want to be laughed at by women. Most of the social opportunities for interacting with women is in the form of dances. So you have to at least know the basic steps, learned usually while young by dancing with your female cousins.

Still, I dont know many men that love to dance except (and I know this sounds like a generalization) as a means to impressing women. Men in general shy away from the more expressive arts. Not just dancing, but also stuff like singing and poetry.

I think it is about the process of fully "letting go" which can be as frightening as it is liberating. Men are less willing to confront their emotions this directly. Dance is fueled by emotion, as much as it is guided by instinct and tamed with a sense of the aesthetic. Men suck at those sorts of things.

I am intrigued though by what adrianhon suggests: that since women are naturally better at this than men, we opt to not compete rather than risk the shame of "losing."
posted by vacapinta at 2:06 AM on December 20, 2003 [1 favorite]

See, I'm not buying the "men are bad at kinetic learning" thing. Because--look at a bunch of average joes playing pick-up basketball, or an impromptu game of touch football or racquetball or something. They may not be *good,* but they're absolutely capable of mastering complex moves, displaying grace and balance, etc. And having a lot of relaxed spontaneous fun while doing it.

IMO, it's all about (a) the self-consciousness, and (b) the "oh god I look gaayyyy" stigma. For a lot of men, when it comes to dancing, the head is the enemy of the body. (Or, essentially, what vacapinta said.)
posted by Kat Allison at 6:41 AM on December 20, 2003 [1 favorite]

i dont understand then , how i can go out to see richie hawtin , do my stuff (whatever that may be) for four hours and yet be unable to transfer this ability to a more formalized kind of dancing.
Do you think maybe because theres no one telling you what to do and theres no courting going on at dance clubs that it frees people up a wee bit more ?
Maybe they should teach the guys seperately at the start ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:46 AM on December 20, 2003

I think many men, like myself, don't like to dance because we don't like to be the center of attention. While you're probably not actually the center of attention (who is going to pay attention to ME other than my date?) you feel like everybody is watching you when you dance. Combine that with not being good at it and it just makes it feel like an embarrasing act.

That being said, there is a right time and place and sobriety level and music and environment and partner for everything - there have a been a few times when I went out dancing and had a really wonderful, non-self-conscious time. Like at a reggae show.
posted by vito90 at 9:19 AM on December 20, 2003

Kat: I've watched hundreds of guys learn to dance. And generally speaking, it IS harder for them to learn. The flip side of this is once they do learn it, they have a full understanding of the move and rarely, if ever, forget how to do it.

It might be more than just a kinetic thing - after all, the man is usually expected to lead, whereas a woman usually just has to follow the steps (I'm not saying being a follow is easy, I've done both - but it DOES make it rougher on male beginners than their female counterparts.)

Sgt.serenity: If it helps, I'm utterly useless in a club dancing environment :-). I'm sorry you've had a bad experience with male instructors. When I teach, I find the best way to do it is show the move a few times, break down the steps and then have the group try it with me and my dance partner. We then have them try it on their own, then walk around and fix problems as they occur. I only count the rhythm because it helps some people, but leaning on the counting as a crutch is awful, I agree.

In some dances, they DO teach guys separately - for instance, I'm told that in Argentina, men must dance with each other when tango'ing until they're adept enough to dance with a woman. Good thinking.
posted by Happydaz at 10:06 AM on December 20, 2003

leaving the macho parts aside , im a method-nazi.
As far as i'm aware , dance in its proper form is as an outer expression of an inner spirit , yet when anyone goes to a dance class , there seems to be a lot of externals pushed on to people.
I guess i've never felt that free in a dance class , perhaps in the same way some people who are spiritual never go to a church.
reading the comments here gets me thinking it would be a great barrier to push through, a real bit of discipline and effort.
As im typing this two kids are outside dancing in the first snow of the winter : ) and i think it may be a little cruel to go out and tell them to amend their steps.
Im kind of left-field with this sort of thing , i'd give students the music for a week or two to let them soak it in and then get them to collaborate on a dance piece themselves , this artificial , money driven musical theatre stuff doesnt excite me at all...anyway , thanks for an engaging thread, i dont think i've ever been in one before !
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:17 AM on December 20, 2003

Because other men would laugh at us. And some of us are shy about that sort of stuff. :)
posted by plep at 12:00 PM on December 20, 2003

See, I'm not buying the "men are bad at kinetic learning" thing. Because--look at a bunch of average joes playing pick-up basketball, or an impromptu game of touch football or racquetball or something. They may not be *good,* but they're absolutely capable of mastering complex moves, displaying grace and balance, etc. And having a lot of relaxed spontaneous fun while doing it.

The moves in sports aren't as often about pattern, structure, and grace (and basketball is the only place I can think of anything close to rhythm) -- it's hand eye coordination, reflexes and reaction, attending to the situation of the moment. It's a different thing.

Of course, I'm bad at both...
posted by weston at 12:07 PM on December 20, 2003

You make several good points, sarge, particularly about the control-freedom dichotomy men are faced with in our society. Granted we're a lot more free to express ourselves here in the US (and the west in general) in many significant ways. Economic and global military expression come to mind, which as we now see even the working classes play a role in. The impulse to express ourselves only in metrically quantifiable ways comes from our learning at an early age the power and importance of toeing the line. The Man Line, that is.

Say what you negatively will about raves, (or not, for it has been said), at least the men are free to dance however the fuck they want to. I turned on to raves in the late 80s because the sound was way out and no one cared in the slightest how I was moving my body. On rare, wonderful occasions people seemed to be bringing out their hearts. That's when I learned how much it can mean to have a physical relationship with rhythm and motion. I was a straight arrow then, except for cigarettes (ironically) so I won't hear that scene dismissed as merely about the drugs.

Greetings from the mighty Richmond District, vacapinta. I liked your posting, too.
posted by squirrel at 12:12 PM on December 20, 2003

I think it's more a matter of self-consciousness than anything.

And I know no easy solutions for that.
posted by nath at 1:26 PM on December 20, 2003

... hand eye coordination, reflexes and reaction, attending to the situation of the moment. It's a different thing.
The main difference is that, in sports-type activities, you do not have to think about what to do, you just do it and your body's reflexes control your movements. Dancing is something that you have to consciously think about (as a beginner at least) and this makes us self-conscious about our innate clumsiness, starting a cycle where being aware of our clumsiness makes us more clumsy and we tense up and try harder to get it right, leading to more clumsiness.

Perhaps the best way to teach men dancing would be to get them drunk first, removing that self-conscious aspect?
posted by dg at 2:50 PM on December 20, 2003

Exactly. I can't club dance without at least 3 beers in me. As for ballroom dancing, after a while, it's become muscle memory for me, thus removing the awkwardness. Perhaps that's what basketball would be like for me if I ever had listened to all those @#%$@# who told me I should play basketball because I'm tall.
posted by Happydaz at 3:28 PM on December 20, 2003

I'll stand in front of hundreds of strangers and sing karaoke, but I won't dance anything but slow dances. Why? Haven't got a clue. It's probably because my father wouldn't dance either.

I'm getting better though, 'cause I'd love to take ballroom dancing lessons, so maybe there's hope for me yet.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:52 PM on December 20, 2003

I'm always getting told I'm a great dancer (which constantly suprises me) yet I still often feel self conscious. I do find that since I've danced so much over the years (mainly to electronic dance music) I can start dancing fairly easily to anything and I think it's the getting started part that's the hardest. Once you've got going and you've relaxed into the beat, groove or whatever, it all just seems to flow. I should note that I've never tried a formal dance like ballroom dancing - it looks too soulless to be enjoyable to me... In conclusion, I'm a guy and I LOVE to dance!
posted by Onanist at 7:41 PM on December 20, 2003

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