Let's start with the easiest first...
- Brush your teeth! Simple, yet often sadly overlooked. If you can't swing this monumental task, get some minty gum. I emphasive the flavor because personally, the fruity smelling variety makes me want to wretch! Or suck on some mints, but stay alert - shortly after those puppies are gone, the breath comes kickin' back.
- If you tend to perspire...profusely, bring a change of shirt. There's nothing wrong with sweating - we are dancing after all. There are a few things wrong with asking a woman to touch your drenched shirt.
I'll sum up the hygiene section by saying, "Come on, do I really have to go over these? This is stuff we all learned by third grade. Put your best foot forward."
On to the slightly trickier...
- Who asks whom to dance? The truth is: anyone can ask anyone. Man or woman, instructor or student, beginner or advanced - if you're out social dancing be happy people ask you to dance. Now for the fine print. Guys, it makes us ladies feel good to be asked. It gives us confidence in your ability to do your job on the dance floor and lead, because you're taking charge before we get out there.
There's a whole psychology behind this that could be it's own blog. I'll sum it up like this: if you want to dance and no one is asking you, stop pouting and go take that scary first step yourself. I ask guys to dance all the time - because I don't like sitting around when I'm supposed to be dancing.
- When is it OK to say No? Oooh...tricky! To be honest, I say "No" sometimes. Usually it's when I honestly need a break or have to go to the bathroom. Think of social dancing like you would any other facet of your life- you're not going to get all "Yes!" all the time. If you get a no, just go to the next person. I guarantee I've gotten more no's than everyone reading this blog (yes, all five of you;) put together.
Here's my rule: I'll dance with anyone at least once. If they hurt me, or if they show off and act like I'm not there, or if I just don't vibe with them - I might say no the next time - but I never say no because I think I'm better than them! In fact, I'm getting fired up typing this because dancers with attitude really piss me off! When each of us started, there were better dancers than all of us. And they were kind enough to dance with us. How dare we cop an attitude now that we think we're hot stuff!? Do the world a favor and stay home!
OK, back to nice Allison. Where was I? Oh yes...
- How to conduct yourself once you're dancing with someone. It's ironic I got this question when I did because I had an interesting experience just last week. I asked a guy to dance (told you so:) and he accepted. We went to the floor and proceeded to do a perfectly nice salsa - except for the fact that he never smiled, spoke, or seemed to care he was dancing with me at all. In fact, by the end of the song, I was convinced I had offended his very nature in some way.
Was it because I asked him? Why wouldn't he just say No?! One student postured it may be because he was intimidated to dance with the instructor. Perhaps, though silly from my p.o.v., but why would he handle intimidation with stone cold silence. Don't most people use small talk or comedy to cover awkward situations?! He never even asked my name. I was about to ask his, but then I realized, "Wait a damn minute! I asked him to dance and I'm following everything he leads with a smile. He can ask me if he cares."...he obviously didn't. I haven't had that little fun on the dance floor in a long time. And I won't be asking him to dance again...shocker!
So when you're dancing with someone, give them your all. If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times: when you're dancing with someone, let everything else go and just create with that partner in that moment! Don't look around for your next partner. Don't look at the floor. You don't have to stare into each other's eyes the whole time, but check in once in a while with a smile. People know when you're less than excited to dance with them. Make it your mission to be excited with everyone - and everyone (save Mr. Silent Treatment from last week) will be excited to dance with you. If they're not, they're not meant to be your partner. Move on with all the skin on your back in tact.
I've saved the best question for last:
- When is a "yes" an eyebrow-raise-wink-wink-lick-your-lips-I'm-going-home-with-you-tonight "Yes!" Unfortunately, this blog is already too long (I'm really struggling with that resolution!) so you'll have to tune in next week for the titillating answer. Until then - See you on the hardwood!