Why You Should Take Up Dancing Again

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Remember the thrill of a great night of dancing? The endorphins rush that would last for hours? How, on a stressful day, there was no better way to relax?

When you’ve had a break from dancing, it’s hard to take it up again. I know – I stopped for five years. Going again is intimidating. It’s difficult to motivate yourself. I’ll go next week, you think. But you never do.

It’s time to change this. You need to go to that dance class because it won’t take long for it to become, yet again, the best part of your week. And your anxieties? The reality is nowhere near as bad as you think.

Still unsure? Let me convince you. Here are all the reasons you’re putting it off and why they don’t matter.

You’re Nervous

Going dancing, especially if you’re going alone, after months or years away from the dance floor is terrifying. You know you’re going to make mistakes. Can you even find the one in a salsa song nowadays?

But remember, if you once went to a dance class knowing nothing, you can go again now, knowing a little. So, gather your courage and head out your door – because once you’ve done it the first time, you’ll find all your nerves have gone.

After a break of several years, I was persuaded to go to a salsa night – and while my technique may have been terrible, I smiled the entire night. Credit: Salsa on The Pier

You Don’t Know Anyone Who Dances

Dance crowds change over time. Some people quit when they have children. Others move away or switch to new, more challenging classes. You might find yourself walking into a dance night and wondering, “Where have all my dance friends gone?”

Don’t worry: you’ll make new dance friends.

We dancers are sociable people, remember? Turn up with a smile. Talk to your partners in the lesson. Make the effort to ask for dances. You’ll soon have a new group of dance friends greeting you with a hug and a smile as you walk in the door.

You Can’t Find The Time

Your life is busy, you work or study hard, and you have other commitments. With all that going on, it can be hard to find the motivation to go to that dance class, especially at the beginning, when you’re still finding your rhythm again (sometimes quite literally).

To make sure you get to those classes, plan ahead. Work out what time you need to leave the house or office. Then what time you need to start preparing. Then what you’ll need. Make sure you have enough petrol in your car or money on your public transport pass. Decide what you’re going to wear, even down to the make-up or aftershave, and check that your clothes are ironed. Go to an ATM the day before so you have cash on you.

The less decisions you have to make, the less you’ll put off dancing. And the more you’ve already done to get ready, the more committed you’ll feel.

You’re Embarrassed

Embarrassment, that oh-so-relatable emotion that prevents us from doing all those things we desperately want to. Well, yes, sometimes you will mess up moves. Sometimes dance acquaintances who remember you from before your break will be surprised by your level now.

But remember what really makes for an amazing dance: connection. And even a beginner can connect with their partner. Smile at your lead or follower. Pay attention to their body language. Let them know, verbally or through facial expressions, when you like a move or piece of styling that they do. They are, after all, dancing for you.

When the dance ends, your partner won’t remember if you made a mistake with a turn or shine. They’ll be thinking about how great it was to dance with someone who smiled so much – and how glad they are that you took up dancing again.

You’re Frustrated by Your Level

You know how they say some things are like riding a bike? Well, dancing is more complex than cycling.

You’re worried about how much you’ll have forgotten or how rusty you’ll be, and I’m not going to lie: you really will have forgotten all that. You might have once been an intermediate or advanced dancer. But, while it might sting, you’re probably not that dancer any more. You’re more likely an improver.

And going back to improvers, or even beginners, can be incredibly frustrating. This is especially true if people you know still dance or you can see the class up doing a routine that, once upon a time, would have seemed easy to you.

However, there is a positive side to all this: going back to improvers or beginners will significantly benefit your technique long-term. You’re going to get a lot more out of your classes (and so progress a lot faster), thanks to your previous experience.

In fact, one of my favourite dance partners has taken two relatively long dance breaks. They have a limited range of moves but they dance so smoothly that I always seek them out.

Let’s face it: even if you’d never taken a break, you’d learn something from going back to beginners. The best dancers are the ones who have truly mastered the basics, who haven’t just learnt them but do them perfectly. And that’s something most people aren’t capable of achieving the first time they go through beginners.

You Feel Like a Tourist

So, let’s say you’ve got yourself organised and built up the courage to head back to your old dance clubs. It might have been a little lonely and frustrating at first, but you soon realised that you’re making new friends and already seeing your technique improving.

But there’s still just one thing that makes you feel like you don’t belong: people don’t dance like they used to.

Dance scenes change over time, especially if you’ve had a long break. You might find yourself thinking: When did bachata get that sensual? What is zouk? And why does no-one do the cha cha any more?

Whereas once you felt at home in the dance scene, you might look at the dance floor and start to feel homesick. Yet don’t just write these new styles off as “not as good as the old ones”. Give them a go: you might be surprised to find you like them.

Besides, when you’re feeling frustrated because you can no longer do that complex piece of footwork, what better antidote than picking up a new dance and seeing steady progress?

The “kizo-merienda” nights at Ocean Drive, Bilbao – new dances on the scene mean opportunities for new favourite dances. Credit: Ocean Drive

You won’t regret taking up dancing again. You might regret the break but you’ll never regret coming back to it.

Still don’t believe me? Well, I understand: I’m just one person on the internet. So prove me wrong. Go to that dance night (or, if it really is too scary, at least pick up a new dance).

Because while your first few nights back might be frustrating and occasionally awkward, after a few classes you’ll already be counting down the days to the next event, noticing your technique and fitness improving, and making your way off the dance floor with a wild-eyed grin only as the club closes.

And it will be worth all the nervousness and shy moments.

Feature photo credit: Kizomba Beats

6 Comments

  • Melissa says:

    Awesome article! I think that many people will relate to what you have written in this article. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  • David Sander says:

    In my book 90% of what beginners need is encouragement to keep dancing and working on improvements. The same goes for those restarting in Dance. It’s a challenge in being a total cultural change from ordinary life and from the dancing we see on TV and at entertainment dancing.

    • Tanya Newton says:

      True; we all need something to give us motivation, and it can be particularly hard for beginners who don’t yet feel confident on the dance floor.

  • Emma T says:

    I had 6 years off modern jive and west coast swing. Tbh, nothing in modern jive changed in that time, apart from there being more dancing on the slow (yay, what I prefer) and a bit more options for more blues/chilled out music. With WCS it was a bigger leap back, but then I’d not been as proficient before I stopped.

    • Tanya Newton says:

      That’s interesting, Emma! Glad to hear it was a positive set of changes for you!
      To be honest, I didn’t find the changes in the my dance scene frustrating but I know others who took it up again and then quit because of it – which is a shame.

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