I Can Has Lindy Hopz?
It was almost exactly a year ago this weekend that I finally faced my fears and went for it… I asked a stranger to dance.
A bit of backstory perhaps. Like many swing dancers, I’m an introvert. A shy introvert. Big time. I can easily tuck that behind a blanket of outgoing perkiness but at my core, people are scary. So the idea of walking up to someone and willingly putting myself in a position of judgment where the other had the choice to either accept my offer graciously or storm off cackling loudly at the very audacity of spending a single moment in my presence… well, clearly I’d built the latter up to a terrifying if not ludicrous level.
So I didn’t ask. Ever. Oh sure, if I was leaving the dance floor and happened to catch the eye of one of my good pals I could awkwardly raise an eyebrow and strike a dork-pose until they shuffled over to dance… but to actually walk up to someone and ask? Oh hells no. Terrifying. Stranger-Danger. I’d rather stand by the sidelines. So I did. A lot. And apparently started to get a reputation as a dance snob, even lost a couple of friends over it. It had the beginnings of becoming a real barrier to the dance funz, and gosh darn it I was frustrated.
Thankfully a year ago, at my first Steven & Virginie workshop in Rochester, a good pal grew tired of my cowering in the corner and challenged me to ask 3 people to dance that weekend. Just 3. Had to be strangers. And by golly I did it.
Since I’m sure I’m not the only swing dancer to ever suffer this affliction, I’ve decided to share what worked for me so that you too can stop being a wallflower and get out there and dance!
Dance in Someone Else’s Shoes
You know how good it feels to be asked to dance. It’s awesome, it’s flattering, it’s a possible new pal, it’s at least 3 minutes of good times in your immediate future … All kinds of good things. Now have you ever looked the asker in the eye and thought “how dare they think themselves worthy of my time and sweat!” ? Oh c’mon, of course not. If you did, you’d probably have been ostracized long ago. (I kid) So when you’re crossing the floor and summoning courage, just remember how great you’re about to make that person feel.
Target Other Wallflowers
My first self-initiated dance was with a fellow dance introvert, a well-dressed elderly gent being repeatedly passed over at the sidelines. So up I went, offered my hand, and was greeted with the warmest, most enthusiastic smile. And boy, that dance was FANTASTIC. It made the rest of the night so much more pleasant for both of us. He got to strut his stuff, thus intriguing other follows, and I got an injection of courage with which to seek out my next dance partner.
Remember the Many Reasons for Rejection
Maybe they just finished a really fast Charleston and need a breather. Maybe they stubbed a toe during that last dance. Maybe they feel too sweaty and want to change their shirt. Maybe they are concerned of their own body odor and want to escape to the loo for a pits n’ bits sink-shower. Maybe that particular song dredges up bad memories. Maybe they are feeling that pre-dance burrito about to make an unfortunate reappearance. Perhaps they’d previously promised the next dance to someone else and are frantically scanning the room for them. Notice how none of these reasons have anything to do with you? Exactly.
If All Else Fails, There’s Always Solo Jazz
If you’re loving the song but too shy to find a dance partner, there’s no reason you can’t still dance. Rock out some Apple Jacks or a cool Boogie Drop, and in no time you’ll notice others joining you. Solo dance is contagious, like moths to flame, or flies to sidewalk-poo. If you dance it, they will come… and you’ll either end up with a Lindy Hop partner for the rest of the song, or at least someone else to Spank the Baby with.