When You Need A Break From Dancing

dance shoes on dance floor
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I have a confession to make: sometimes, dancing feels like a chore. Sometimes, I feel guilty for not doing it.

It’s easy to feel this way. We’re so focused on mastering moves and improving our abilities that any time off can seem like a betrayal of our aims and all the hard work we’ve already invested.

Dancing often forms part of our identity – especially if we do it a lot. It influences who we’re friends with, where we go in the evening and at weekends, the music we listen to, the jokes we understand, and more.

What’s more, when we see our friends improving their dance skills while we linger behind, or even realise that the people we thought were our friends no longer wish to dance with us, we can feel deflated.

And that’s not to mention, of course, the tendency for disapproving or disappointed looks when you tell a passionate dancer that you haven’t been dancing much recently. Because after all, how dare you have other things going on in your life than dancing?

So, as a quick reminder…

It’s Okay To Not Dance If You’re Not Enjoying It 

Perhaps it’s the dancing itself. Maybe it’s the people. Or the location. Whatever the reason, you’re just not having fun dancing.

So why do it?

You don’t need to give up dancing on day one. The problem might be a lack of self-confidence, unfamiliarity with different dance cultures and music styles, or simply that you don’t yet have friends in the dance scene. Those issues can be resolved and it would be a shame to quit your passion for something so fixable.  

However, if you’ve persisted for a couple of months and still don’t aren’t enjoying it, don’t keep forcing yourself. Dancing should be enjoyed.

Blurred feet of dancers at a milonga

It’s Okay To Not Dance If It’s Hurting You

Dancing should be a positive, healthy hobby. If it’s not, you need to uncover the reasons why and change that. And if you can’t change it? 

Don’t do something that’s harming you.

There are many reasons why dancing could hurt you. Brielle has written about taking breaks due to injuries: a difficult but important thing to do. There are places I won’t dance as a follower because the leaders are too rough or otherwise dangerous. 

I’ve also written about eating disorders being exacerbated by dancing. And if you’re struggling with anxiety, emotional exhaustion, or any other mental health issue, you may sometimes feel the need to skip dancing to protect yourself. Mental health is just as important as physical injuries or conditions, and nobody should feel ashamed or guilty for prioritising it.

The risk could also come from other people. One woman I know stopped going to certain events because her abusive ex-husband would also go and, even with a restraining order against him, the organisers refused to support her. While she hated not dancing, it was better than putting herself in physical danger.

Other people have told me that they stopped dancing because the local dance culture became heteronormative and toxic. Dancing was hurting their self-esteem and, more often than not, leaving them feeling alienated and unhappy.

Not dancing, in these cases, is a sensible decision. Be proud of yourself for looking after yourself.

It’s Okay To Not Dance If You Don’t Have The Time Or Money 

Dancing is an expensive hobby. If it would eat up money that you wanted to go towards essentials, savings, or even just money for holidays, clothes shopping, new books, or other personal luxuries, then it’s okay to not do it.

It’s Okay To Not Dance If You Have Other Priorities 

I remember someone saying, “Everyone has time to go dancing. If they say they don’t have time to, what they really mean is they don’t want to.”

Yes, perhaps you could go dancing if you made it a priority. But you also have other things you want to prioritise: work, friends and family, sleep, and your mental health or “you time”. 

Perhaps you also have other goals you want to achieve: maybe you do another sport, perhaps you’re learning a language, or you’re writing a book… Why should dancing be more important than your other passions and ambitions?

It’s not simply a case of having the time to go dancing. It’s about having time that you want to spend dancing.

It’s Okay To Not Dance If It Doesn’t Suit Your Lifestyle

Perhaps you like to go for a morning run before work, but your dance classes finish at 10:30 pm and you don’t get home until nearly midnight. Perhaps you love the weekend socials, but they start at midnight and finish at 6 am, and so you end up sleeping away your days off. Or maybe you’ve started to drink a lot more alcohol since you took up dancing, and you don’t like the effects.

Regardless of the reason why, it’s okay to cut down on your time spent dancing so you can construct the life you want. Your lifestyle, your other goals, your wallet, your health and safety, and your enjoyment of life – these are all important.

Sometimes, we need a break. Dancing should be a passion, not a chore. So, go ahead: give yourself that space. Allow yourself to say “no” to that party or to not enrol in classes for the next month. 

When you’re ready to come back, you will do, and you’ll be more energised and motivated because of your time off. But for now, you’re respecting your love for dancing by not forcing yourself to do it unless it makes you happy.

5 Comments

  • Steve says:

    Great article; I can relate to many of the points raised; nowadays I do what Dancing best suits me and not others. It’s important to look after ones own physical and emotional well-being ahead of what is expected by certain members and cliques in the local scene.

    Thanks for highlighting these important issues.

    • Tanya Karen says:

      Thank you, Steve! I’m glad to hear that you’re putting your physical and emotional well-being first.

  • David Sander says:

    One of the central ideas of social dancing is that both partners walk away happy. Dancing should add to your life so structure it so it does. During a period where I could not afford private lessons, I took to regular 15 minute drill sessions at home to consolidate my skills and dance movements.
    All the ballroom dances in my city start at 7 pm, so it’s a good question why nearly all the Latin socials start at 9:30 and 10 PM.

    • Tanya Karen says:

      Thank you, David! I wish the Latin socials started at 10 pm of 7 pm near me. I love dancing… but I also love both my weekends and my sleep!

  • David Sander says:

    If you are worried about being a step behind in dancing, some of us are slow learners and that may not be a bad thing. As a beginner it just took me two to three times longer to get movements down than other typical dancers. When I questioned a former world champion on this several years ago, she replied that she was a slow learner too! I was a bit astounded but took the compassion as wisdom.
    I later developed more precision and better technical form while adding some movements that required a better technical form that would not be possible without the extra analysis and perfecting of movement. So don’t be discouraged, the imagined lack of progress may mean more depth of development is your inspiration.

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