There is a myth generated at some point during the latter half of the twentieth century that ballroom dancing or indeed any type of dancing is not masculine. At least that seems to be true here in the UK and from everything else I’m reading it’s also been perpetuated in the USA, Australia and seemingly any other country where Anglo-Saxons set their feet. You have to ask yourself why, when so many of our grandparents cemented their romances on the dance floor.
Of course, the thing about ballroom dancing is that it subconsciously sends a message that you are confident not only about yourself but also about interacting with another human being. And sometimes that confidence or rather lack of it is an insurmountable hurdle to learning this new skill – not only are you thinking I don’t want to look like an idiot, but you’re also thinking I don’t want to look like an idiot in front of that woman I’m trying to impress (whether she be wife, girlfriend or possibility). I say woman very specifically, as from my completely non-scientific research i.e. chatting to men and asking what the issues are, it seems that learning in a mixed gender group is much more challenging than learning in a single sex environment, especially if you’re already out of your comfort zone. So by getting on the dance floor, you’re already saying “I know who I am and I’m happy with myself”, and we all know that self-confidence (and I don’t mean arrogance) is an attractive quality whatever gender you are.
Ballroom dancing is, in some people’s heads, intrinsically old-fashioned – the men lead and the women follow. It is and it isn’t of course, for a leader to be able to lead the follower needs to allow it, otherwise it’s just a battle, but that’s a blog for another day. Actually really great leaders look after their followers on the dance floor and make sure they don’t come to harm, they don’t just make a decision about what move comes next – for me there is something intensely masculine in that kind of caring. The leader, in this context the man, has to be strong but gentle, attentive, aware of what’s going on around him and read the dance floor (in that sense, it’s just like driving down a busy street).
Perhaps if more men thought of ballroom dancing like they do martial arts then they’d be keener to take it up. The essentials about balance, co-ordination, understanding how your body moves, action and reaction are at the root the same but with music and rhythm involved. It’s a challenge of course, both physically and mentally, but why shy away from it. Done properly with the correct techniques, even a slow dance like the Waltz will feel like exercise – rise and fall for example requires strong feet and ankles, controlling slow movements requires a huge amount of energy and muscle control, and keeping your upper body stretched but shoulders relaxed will improve posture no end.
And then there’s an element of role-play in ballroom dancing; don’t discount it – it can lead to interesting and wonderful places. When a good male leader takes you in his arms, for the 3 minutes of that song, as a female follower, you get to be a princess (if it’s a waltz or foxtrot) or some sultry siren (if it’s a rumba) or any other part of your character. And now I’m talking directly to the men reading this, if you want a woman to fulfil her fantasy life (believe me we all have them) with you as the hero then learn to partner dance! You have to ask yourself, why wouldn’t you want to spend time up close and personal with your other half or anyone else for that matter…and in public!
So that’s it, self-confidence, masculinity, exercise and romance – all great reasons for men to learn to ballroom dance. In the words of a male friend of mine who’s been dancing for decades “if you can’t drive then you get yourself a driving instructor, so if you can’t dance then get yourself a dance instructor” . Or as Matt Damon’s character says in We Bought A Zoo: “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
If you apply that to walking into a dance class for the first time then you never know what might come out of it.
Ballroom & Latin Dance classes in Boxford, Lambourn & Wantage