One day at a Salsa social, I was talking to a friend of mine (in this post lets refer to her as Carol). Now Carol was quite a popular female dancer in the scene; she was light on her feet and had so much natural style that everyone wanted to dance with her.
We had been chatting for a few seconds when a song came on that Carol absolutely hates and will never dance to. A guy (lets call him Jim) who was still new to the scene picked this song to make his very first approach. Jim walked over to us, put his hand out and very politely asked Carol for a dance. Carol said with an apologetic look on her face – “Not to this song honey, lets dance to the next one.” Then bam, there it was – the look on Jim’s face – his warm inviting smile turned into a sad and confused stare like he had just been sucker punched. He turned around awkwardly and walked away like a puppy that had just been kicked.
Carol and I continued chatting and after a few minutes the next song came on. Carol starts to wrap up our conversation and she turns around to see if Jim is making his way back to her for their dance, but surprisingly she sees Jim approaching another Woman and asking her to dance. Then off they head onto the dance floor. As Carol saw him dancing with someone else, she shrugged it off and then came back to our conversation. I asked Carol if she knew that Jim must have thought she was coming up with an excuse not to dance with him and her response was, “I told him the truth. He should have come back to me a 2nd time before making up his mind.”
At the end of the night, I found Carol and I asked her if Jim had ever come back to her for that dance and she said – “No, I think you are right. I think he thought I was making an excuse.”
Now Carol is an amazing dancer and she always has guys eagerly waiting to dance with her at socials. By Jim taking offence where none was intended, he was eliminating an amazing dancer off his list. The loss was his.
After this incident, I thought about it and I asked, should Jim have taken offence that Carol did not dance with him? Why did Jim take offence in the first place? After thinking about it for a while, I finally realised it boils down to 2 reasons:
- Rejection hurts; &
- Unconsciously, we feel entitled to a yes when we ask for a dance.
That’s right, when we ask someone to dance, we are not really asking. We are simply following a list of steps that should lead to the dance we have been ‘promised’ because we have bothered to show up. Only a Yes would suffice and any other response feels like like a violation of the social contract promised by the community. So when a No or any other form of denial comes out, feelings get hurt.
Then I went deeper down the rabbit hole & took things from Carol’s perspective. While Carol did not like the song, whatever her reasons, is she really expected to say yes to every dance request? It turns out, the more popular a dancer you are, the higher the likelihood people expect you to be a ‘Dancing monkey‘. Dancing monkeys are not allowed to get tired, take a break, go to the toilet, or even have the audacity to want to choose whom they want to dance with and when. Any time they exercise any of these rights, they are labelled as rude or snobs.
I know dancers (both male and female) who are so popular that they will quite literally have a que of 10 people waiting to dance with them. Think about this for a moment, if they get tired or want to take a break after 6 or 7 dances, the remaining 3 people who are left standing on the side of the dance floor will take this decision very personally and some might even quit dancing citing this as the reason.
Can you imagine the pressure being placed on these individuals to say Yes to every dance?
So how should you handle rejection? My advice, while some excuses may feel like the person is politely blowing you off, you should take them at their word. For example:
- I will come and find you
- I have a few people I need to dance with first, but we can dance later
- I am taking a break (my feet hurt)
- Not to this song, maybe later
Note: If a person is mean or rude, that is a whole different story and call them on it and then cut them off. No one needs that negativity in their life.
Now what if the person gives you an excuse and then immediately starts dancing with someone else? I say give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that person they are dancing with is their favourite dancer and is not someone they can say no to.
Now if a dancer keeps on avoiding you over a period of time or just says No every time you ask them to dance, my advice would be to take notice – is it just the 1 dancer or is this happening with lots of different dancers?
a. If its just the 1 person, then its all about them and its got nothing to do with you. Let it go and live your life.
b. If its lots of different people and you actually never get the dances you want, then take responsibility. The chances are there is probably something that you can improve that is currently working against you:
- If you are a guy, maybe you are forceful and hurt ladies when you dance. Or maybe your hands wander where they are not supposed to? For the ladies, maybe you don’t follow very well, or you loose timing or maybe you look angry when you dance?
- Do the smell test and make sure you smell good and that you don’t sweat all over your partner. There is a very thin line where sweat goes from acceptable to uncomfortable to downright unsightly. You need to be aware of how much you perspire and make sure this is not scaring people off.
- Rotate your dance requests. Don’t ask the same 5 people to dance all night long. I see lots of dancers who only ask the really popular dancers to dance, but never think about asking the beginners or intermediate dancers. Dance with all people of all different levels.
At the end of the day remember:
- You are not entitled to any dance. Every dance is a request that can be met with either a Yes or No
- No one is a dancing monkey. So you will never get all the dances that you want when you want them
- Take responsibility for your dancing and your happiness
- Know why you dance and let no one take that joy away from you
Post your comment and let me know what you think. Keep Dancing Always…