Posted June 14, 2012on:
When I was just starting out dancing, I was terrified to ask guys to dance, and I was terrified if they asked me. I wasn’t so terrified with the guys in my little East Coast Swing class; I knew they didn’t know anything about dancing either, so it was chill. But when I started going out to social dances with people I didn’t know, I was terrified basically the whole time.
Then it started to get easier, and I wasn’t so terrified when a guy would ask me to dance. That got sort of comfortable. But it took me awhile to get over the fear of doing the asking myself.
And this whole time I’m talking about me as a follow.
Well, by now, as a follow, I’ve pretty much conquered my fear of dancing with guys. I’ll basically dance with any lead who asks me.
But now, as I’m trying to focus more on leading, I find that I have to start the whole process over. Now I’m terrified to dance with followers.
Why should this be? It’s like I have two separate brains, a following brain and a leading brain. My following brain knows, for example, that it’s much nicer to be led a million basic steps for the entirety of a song than to be yanked through a bunch of crazy maneuvers by a lead who doesn’t know how to lead them well. But my leading brain is convinced that I need to do a bunch of crazy maneuvers or I’ll be a boring lead. What’s with this dancing schizophrenia?
What’s weird is that I’m actually more comfortable leading guys than leading girls. Even though most of the guys I dance with are really hard to lead, while the girls are nice and comfy. Maybe it’s because if a guy is not a good follower, I figure he’s not going to judge my leading skills; I know the girls know the difference between a good lead and a bad one, and I’m well aware that I’m not a good one. Or maybe it’s just because I’m more used to dancing with men than with women; I’m used to how men feel and how they move, while women feel and move a lot differently. And it could just be because I’m used to dancing with these particular individuals, and not with the others.
But I know that my leading won’t get any better if I don’t try dancing with followers who know what they’re doing. And that’s just a really scary thing for me. Just like when I started out dancing as a follower, when I lead, I’m terrified to ask girls to dance, and I’m terrified when they ask me. There’s maybe two or three girls in my scene with whom I’ve danced enough not to be terrified of them. But going up to some random stranger of a follow and asking her to dance? Terrifying.
Well, I know what I need to do. I just need to make myself do it. I need to make a deal with myself to ask at least one follower I don’t know to dance, at least once during the evening. I need to remind myself constantly that it’s better to be boring than to be rough and awkward. And the other thing I need to do is keep learning new things to lead.
It’s almost like I’m a new dancer. So leads, you can chime in here any time. What’s your best advice for someone who’s just starting out as a leader?