Personally, I LOVE social dancing. I’m a close-the-ballroom type. The only thing that will send me home early is uninspiring music or sheer fatigue. Unfortunately, fatigue is a common occurrence when I am on staff at an event, because I have likely had a full day of workshops, private lessons, judging, competing, and possibly our Showcase routine, which by the way, is every bit as draining as it looks!…
I know there are assumptions made that Pros only want to dance with other Pros. This unfortunately, is a result of people observing the behavior of a few Pros and assuming that all Pros are the same. This is not the case for all Pros. Yes, I like dancing with some other Pros, but just as you have dancers that you seek out for dances and some that you…don’t seek out…I have Pros I love dancing with and some who I could take or leave. I would rather have a kick-@#$ dance with a Novice than a lukewarm dance with a Pro. In fact, I LOVE dancing with Novice dancers. I find it relaxing and refreshing to just do basics for a whole song and not have to work about hanging on for dear life in pattern after wrappy-pattern. I get to work on my following skills, since their lead might not be fully developed yet, and I get time to work on my syncopations and make sure they don’t negatively affect my partner. It is proven that social dancing makes you a better dancer. It’s like 4,5,6 hours of non-stop practice. Also, coming from a more isolated part of the continent (in terms of WCS) I appreciate and take advantage of all the social dance time I can get, since I won’t get to see the same dancers again until the next convention.
I think you will get a different answer from every Pro. Just as we are all different individuals, we all come with a different set of preferences, priorities, insecurities, circumstances, moods, experiences, training, and responsibilities.
In general, I could probably speak for almost everybody that they love social dancing. That’s the whole reason we started partner dancing in the first place right? But, depending on all of the above conditions, that level of desire to social dance fluctuates:
Have they been working all day?
Are there certain people they NEED to dance with? (Privates students, Strictly partners, romantic partners, etc) Is their goal for the evening to relax and socialize, or to burn off some energy?
Do they prefer dancing only with people who they know? Maybe they prefer choreography over social dancing. Maybe they aren’t inspried by the music.
We are all human, with the same fears as everyone else. Maybe they are shy and uncomfortable asking people to dance. Maybe they’re afraid they will disappoint your expectations.
Maybe they have an injury they prefer not to subject to the unpredictability of a Novice dancer. Maybe they’re in a bad mood because of something that happened outside the ballroom.
Pros who were trained in a studio might have been trained to serve their students and not think twice about social dancing with everyone all night long. But, some Pros might not have had that training, so it is not an automatic response.
To answer your question about “What makes a social dance enjoyable for you”, it’s the exact same answer regardless of the level of my partner:
Having a dance where both people are 100% into each other and the music and are working together and having a great dancing conversation…is not limited to the Pros. This is why everywhere we go we are advocates for teaching conenction and technique.
What might be a better question is, “What makes a dance un-enjoyable for you?”, to which I would respond, “Lack fo connection”. Of course, there are other ways to have a crappy dance: lack of eye contact, bad hygiene, over-leading, too many patterns, letting me run into the next couple, hurting me, etc. Basically the same complaints non-Pros have. But most dancers have that stuff under control. It’s the connection that really makes it or breaks it for me. So if you get an opportunity to learn more about connection in a workshop, private or group class, take advantage of it!!!