What should you do if you’re not getting dances and you want to dance more?
Good question! Now that you’ve asked one question lets ask some others:
1. Check your attitude
Are you someone people want to be around? This is a tough one, as most people are stuck with themselves and so tend to assume other people want to be with them as protection from self-reflection.
Do you complain a lot? Valid complaints or not, this may drive people away from you.
Are you disdainful of less-experienced dancers? If so, why should the dancers you look like treat you any differently?
Basically, if you weren’t you, would you want to go on a road trip with you? This is an important question that should be asked of everyone, not just dancers.
2. How’s your hygiene?
This is not just a question of body odor. Many people are adverse to body odor, strong colognes and perfumes. The less strongly you smell, the more people are likely to want to get close to you. Few people like leaving a dance smelling like their partner.
How is your breath? Mints are often provided, but in the case of bad breath, you may need to see a doctor as it can indicate real health problems that can be dangerous if left untreated.
Are you sweaty, or clammy to the touch?
If so, bring extra changes of clothes. More than you think you need. If you run out during the dance, you need at least one more shirt. In some scenes dancers bring golf towels with them to dry off between dances, particlarly if there’s no air conditioning at the venue.
3. Do you look like one of the crowd?
We all like to think this isn’t important, but a surprising number of people never learn that it’s the skill, not the clothes that make the dancer.
Why is this? Your attire is strong signaling behavior and is an instant way of telling people if you’re part of the group. This might mean sequins in west coast swing could be in vogue and gauche in lindy hop, it might mean a vest with no shirt in some crowds or tights in another.
Additionally, people are inspired (whether they realize it or not) to dress like their mentors and the people they aspire to be like. If your dress similarly to them, they may assume you share inspiration.
After all, if you can’t dance like your hero, you can at least dress like them. This might sound a bit silly (and it is), but can you spot a ballerina, a tango dancer, or a lindy hopper who is experienced in a group?
Maybe not with 100% certainty, but if you’re trying to gain acceptance in a new group, you can always start out by showing people you’re like them and shift your look back to your own style as people realize that you’re one of them. (this is a technique used to great effect by Alexander the great who made sure his generals and governors dressed and acted like the people they’d conquered so there would be as few feathers ruffled as possible).
This is not to imply that it’s fair that people judge by looks. It’s an acknowledgment that people are people and you *might* benefit from this technique. )Incidentally, you might be doing this already without realizing it)
You may even have been drawn to a dance more strongly where the dress matched your pre-existing wardrobe without even realizing it.
4. Do you have a partner with whom to improve your craft?
This applies specifically to partnered dancing, but is useful to have a posse, crew or your troupe with whom to practice even in solo dance styles. being there for each other means you have people who are likely to want to dance with each other and you’re working on helping each other improve at the same time.
5. Are you taking classes?
Classes are a great way to improve your skill level as well as a way to meet people who are at your level and therefore likely in the same boat as you when it comes to finding people with whom to dance.
Take classes and be friendly. Let the teacher be the teacher and don’t try to fix the technique of the other students. Introduce yourself after class and stick around to ask for dances at the beginning of the night while the experience of class is still fresh in their mind.
6. Get feedback or help from someone else.
If you’ve gone through the lessons, maybe it’s something else. Maybe… you really are nice and happy-go-lucky.
Maybe your breath is always fresh, you’re not sweaty and you look like you fit in, neither overly perfumed or odiferous in any particular way.
You’re taking classes and meeting people and you’re kind and rescue puppies regularly because you’re just that great of a person.
Are you sending signals you’re not interested in dancing without realizing it?
Avoiding eye contact, facing away from the floor, standing off the floor, or blocking body language may all be telling people you don’t want to dance and you may not realize you’re doing it.
Maybe you’re not doing that, but you have a habit of doing things that are considered faux pas in a scene (in some scenes this could be lifts and dips on a crowded floor, in others it might be having too much tone or muscle flexion to be comfortable for a potential partner).
If you’re really having trouble and you’ve been dancing for awhile, chances are you’ve met or talked with someone and you can ask them or a teacher or organizer in the dance what might be going on. They might be able to give you insight and help you see what’s going on better than you can do on your own if you’re stumped.
Generally hosts and organizers have a vested interest in having people come to the night and will often invite people to come to them with any questions, comments or concerns. use them as a resource to figure out what’s going on. They may have answers for you.
BONUS: Why are you waiting for dances? If you haven’t tried asking people to dance, try that. If you aren’t doing this already, definitely try asking people to dance.
BONUS TWO: For the intermediate or advanced dancer going to venue/scene/event for the first time. When visiting a new scene for the first time, wait a few dances and look for a likely friendly dancer with whom you could share a dance. Ask them to dance. Sometimes this takes a few tries. Afterward ask them if, since you’re new to the area, there are 2-3 other dancers you should make sure to dance with assuming this is your only night in town.
They’ll often point you in the direction of someone who they dance with frequently and now there are three of you working on the problem, at the same time, providing social proof that people interact with you.
OR… they’ll tell you some people to dance with and go from Sally to Betty and say something like “Sally said I you’re someone I should miss the chance to dance with.”
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Who knows, if they like your dancing, you may end up going out for waffles with a group of new friends when the dance is over!