It is February the 29th today and the day in which according to old European tradition when a woman can propose to a man for marriage. So I thought I’d get to the heart of the matter here itself, rejection. And how I overcame it myself on the salsa dance floor.
The short answer to this is that I faced that fear and overcame it several hundred times. But there is way more to that and so let me start with a story 🙂
In the ambient and dark atmosphere of the club the music pumped, all the girls danced in their best clothing and the alcohol was flowing. It was a great metaphor for the dating and mating scene, and as I nervously waited my friend told me:
Just ask her for a dance man, she won’t turn you down as you were already in class with her and she looks so happy..
But I just couldn’t do it. Instead I watched people dance all night and then went back home depressed at my inability to ask any girl for a dance. I was 19 and had just attended my first Scottish dancing class in Celidh, while spending a summer in Edinburgh. All my confidence seemed to boil down to that one critical moment, the moment where there is a risk of rejection from a girl. And I bottled it, big time. I was to keep bottling it a few more times on the dance floor a few years later. The only difference is that this dance floor now became the salsa dance floor!
Towards the end of University I took up salsa dancing and learnt a few basic moves. It was exciting and I was glad I finally did this, albeit I was to leave University soon. At the Uni classes there was no club after the class so there was no pressure of asking a girl for a dance. God knows I had enough problems already trying to lead the girl and putting up with the “how come you don’t look like what you are doing, aren’t you supposed to be the leader in this dance” look. Let alone asking girls out for a dance and leading them in a freestyle dance.
Despite all this I eventually hit a real salsa club! The class there was good and fun, but as soon as the lights dimmed and the music came on, all the expert dancers took to the floor and did their thing. To get a dance I’d have to ask a girl for one, I was once again paralysed by a fear. Instinctively I knew I had to overcome this fear in order to get any dancing at all! But doing it was another matter altogether.
I kept going to that club and after maybe two or three more times, I got one of the girls who was in class earlier with me to do a “practice” dance with me. I felt good though as I’d finally gotten a dance yay! This helped me with confidence and I was eventually able to ask strangers for a dance. The club was still intimidating though, there were some really good dancers out there and all those nicely dressed girls didn’t seem too open to being asked for a dance. And anyway, most of the girls got asked for a dance quick. I simply wasn’t fast enough.
A year of going to that club I realised that this club wasn’t suitable for beginner dancers at all. The beginners were paying for classes and as the class turned into a club (which had free entry) all the really good dancers came out to dance for free. In effect the beginner and not so confident dancers were subsidising the entire operation of that club.
I switched clubs. I found one where the club actually encouraged those who’d been in class to stay back and practice. There weren’t many flashy dancers later on as well. The first time I went there a girl actually asked me for a dance! She was a good dancer (not to mention quite pretty). I was pretty chuffed (and baffled) at this stage and it did my confidence a world of good 🙂
So I’m still going to this club and now I have probably asked a girl for a dance a few hundred times. Needless to say my entire being of existence does not boil down to this one moment of “proposing” a dance thank god! Eventually I realised that girls too were in this same boat of confidence when they started out dancing and even if they did dance with someone good, they were so self conscious that they didn’t enjoy the dance. I stopped focusing on myself and just started enjoying dancing and got as much practice as possible on the all intimidating dance floor. I started to focus on my partner and making her look good on the dance floor. And this is a pretty cool and amazing thing to do.
This fear of rejection isn’t so bad actually, and so easily overcome by just jumping into it time and time again. I did it and am so much more the better for it now. Thanks to the countless girls who were so cool that despite knowing that I am a beginner they encouraged me to dance with them and made me look good by pretending that I was leading the dance. This is a very smart feminine trait to have. Well, finally I can lead you all with true confidence 😉