Let’s face it. Stepping out on the dance floor is often terrifying. No matter your level and how long you’ve been dancing, there’s always a bigger fish. There’s always someone (or multiple people) out there who seem like they are better than you are, more experienced, and more confident.
It’s easy to let the intimidation win and to talk yourself out of ever getting on the dance floor in the first place.
So how do you overcome those feelings and enjoy yourself?
Dance like no one’s watching…because they aren’t. They’re too busy checking their phones.
Joking aside, realize that most people are concerned with themselves. You might think that everyone is watching you, but chances are, they’re not. Chances are, they’re absorbed in their own world. Remember, if you’re feeling self-conscious or intimidated, there are probably multiple people out there in the same boat.
So instead of being so concerned with what everyone else is thinking and doing, be concerned with yourself. You are the only person you can truly control on the dance floor, so start with you.
Focus on having the best dance that you can— relax your mind and pay attention to only yourself, your partner, and the music. Be the best lead or follow that you can be in that moment and don’t worry about anyone else. You have to put blinders on in a way— of course, you need to be aware of other people so you don’t run into them, but you don’t have to attach to what they’re doing.
Recognize that the moment is fleeting
One of the best things about social dancing is that a social dance only exists in the moment that it happens. Yes, people take videos, but people don’t necessarily go out dancing to get videos of themselves.
They go for the moment. That fleeting, beautiful moment of feeling alive. A social dance cannot be bottled up and preserved. To me, it’s almost like a sand mandala that the Tibetan Buddhists make. They create a complex work of art from sand and then destroy it, symbolizing the transience of life.
A social dance can be a mandala. You create this moment of expression, connection, and artistry, and then it’s gone. Realizing that the moment is short-lived makes it easier to let go of intimidation.
One dance is just a drop in the ocean of all of the dances that you’ll (hopefully) ever have in your life. One of my best friends lives by the mantra “There’s always more Salsa.”
You don’t just have one shot, and if you blow it, it’s over. You have dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of chances to dance.
So take them! They’ll come and go before you know it. Each one will be different. Some will be amazing, transcendent, and life-changing, others will be awkward or forgettable. They’re just more threads in the tapestry of your dance life, adding richness, color, and texture.
But wouldn’t it be a shame if you never added those threads, never swam in that ocean, because you were too afraid or intimidated?
Take a cue from Lowe’s
I love Lowe’s motto “Never Stop Improving.” One of the best ways to battle intimidation on the dance floor is to constantly practice and improve.
Dance is a lifestyle that endures because there is always something new to learn. By practicing, learning new moves, watching videos, listening to music, and studying dance, you’re guaranteed to improve. Sure, you’ll hit plateaus or maybe not progress at the rate you think you should be going, but if you just keep moving forward, you will make progress.
You’ll feel more confident from your improving and create an “upward spiral.” The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to do, which will increase your confidence, and then increase your enjoyment.
Surround yourself with encouraging people
Having a “crew” with you on the dance floor can really help with intimidation. Or at least having one other person who you know and trust can help the dance floor seem less scary. Be careful to not lean to heavily on a friend as a crutch or create a clique that excludes other people. Have your crew around to increase your confidence and get warm-up dances in together, but don’t be afraid to fly solo.
Everyone feels self-conscious and fearful at some point when they are dancing. You are not alone. Don’t let your fears keep you from enjoying yourself. Social dancing is challenging, especially for people who are not naturally outgoing. Trust the process and embrace the challenge. As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
What do you think? Does this help? Are you or have you been intimidated on the dance floor? What helps you overcome intimidation and have a good time?