It’s common in all endeavors to plateau or get in a rut—whether it’s a hobby, work, or a relationship—and dance is no different.
For the last few months, I have felt like I’m on the same loop with social dance. Teaching Salsa and Bachata classes, going out to social events in my city, and even traveling to out-of-town events has felt like same old, same old. I want to recapture that “I cannot WAIT to get on the dance floor, oh my God I’m so excited about Salsa,” feeling that got me hooked in the first place.
I think a relationship to dance is like a romantic relationship—it starts out passionate and intense, staying up til 4 am to bare your soul —and then the honeymoon phase ends and it settles into a more comfortable, companionable kind of relationship—Netflix and chill. But just like romantic relationships, there are ways to stoke the flames and get dance back to feeling sexy and intense if you’ve gotten into that “We’ve been together for too long” feeling. These are three things I’m doing to get my dance mojo back and rekindle the butterflies.
Explore other styles of dance that are completely unrelated to what you normally dance
This might seem obvious but it helps. If all you do is go out social dancing and take social dance classes, try a style that doesn’t involve a partner.
My background is in ballet, but I don’t get a chance to take ballet classes very often. Since I’ve been in my social dance rut, I’ve made an active effort to take “solo” classes. It gives me a chance to focus on just myself and enjoy moving.
Besides taking familiar classes (ballet for me), I’m also test-driving styles where I’m a complete beginner. And it is so refreshing.
I fumbled my way through a Belly Dance class, feeling silly and uncoordinated and loving every minute. I stomped through a Flamenco class, trying to remember all of the details so I could go home and practice. I shook and shimmied through a Samba class, giggling and relishing the feeling of uninhibited booty shaking.
Having a beginner mind is the best way to stay fresh. One of my students said, “I’m really good at being bad at things.” When we’re adults, we forget that it’s ok to not be good at things. It’s actually really fun to be bad at something, and then if you want, work to improve.
Or just be bad, laugh at yourself, and move on.
Either way, the act of learning something new makes you approach something you already know how to do with a different mindset. It helps you stay curious and open to something new.
Dance with a different age group
Although social dance spans a range of ages and backgrounds, most of the places I go seem to draw people in about a 20-year age range. You’re not likely to see swarms of teenagers or septuagenarians, although of course there are always outliers.
In the last few months, I’ve had chances to teach Latin dance to teenagers. It has been such a treat, because they’re so excited about it. Most of them have had little Latin dance exposure or experience, so just listening to the music is a whole new world for them. Teens don’t have as much self-consciousness as adults and have more neuroplasticity, so they learn faster and with less inhibitions.
Dancing, or sharing dance, with people who are a good bit younger or older than you is a good way to get excited about dance and get some perspective. I danced at an event at an assisted living facility once and got to dance with several of the residents and also hear their stories about their dance experiences. It was interesting to hear how things have changed in the social dance world, and how they haven’t.
Take a little break and don’t feel bad about it
I always joke that “Salsa Guilt” is worse than “Catholic Guilt.” When you try to leave a dance event before the organizer shuts down and kicks you out, some people will give you the “You’re leaving already? But it’s so early and we just got started!” or if you miss a few weeks people will act like they haven’t seen you in decades.
It’s actually really sweet and part of the loving community, but sometimes if you’re a people pleaser, it makes you feel guilty to not show up to an event. You want to support the organizer and the venue, you want to see your friends, but you might just be less than interested in dancing.
It’s ok! Don’t force yourself to go if you’re not feeling it, because then you won’t have fun and it will feel like a chore. I’ve found if I take a break from going out social dancing and don’t beat myself up about it, then I’m more inclined to go back sooner with energy and enthusiasm.
It doesn’t take long for the itch to come back—sometimes all you need is a short break to rekindle the flame.
Do you get in dance ruts? How do you get yourself out of them? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments!