I seem to be a victim of the “fear factor” – many people tell me that they or their friends are too intimidated to dance with me. One reason is they think that I’m going to dance with them the exact same way I dance with other Pros. They think I’m going to pull out tricks and crazy stuff and they aren’t going to be able to “handle” me. NOT TRUE. I always adjust my dance to the connection of my partner. Notice I didn’t say “level” of my partner. To me, I could care less if a guy is pre-novice or all-star: if he has a great connection, I can play more because he can handle it. If he has a poor connection, I will play less…
Another reason is I get lumped into the same category as some other pros who “only like dancing with their own”, which is not true for me. I LOVE dancing with beginner dancers. Beginner dancers are the reason I am who I am. Dancing with beginners for me is refreshing because they don’t try so hard to overlead ridiculous patterns. I have time to think and chill and express myself. They also don’t get pissed off like some intermediate dancers when something they tried didn’t work because they think I didn’t follow it properly (gag!). I’ll take a modest novice with great connection over a sloppy overbearing all-star anyday.
I love dancing with my friends. But if there are 1000 people at a convention, 500 of them are leaders. I am usually out dancing ALL NIGHT. I don’t like hiding in the bar or in my room. I’m there to social dance. That means there are potentially enough songs throughout the weekend to get through half of the leaders in attendance. But many nights, I will dance with the same people 2 and 3 times in a night. It’s not by choice, though – it’s because I really want to dance and no one else is asking. And, just in case you are thinking it, sometimes I DO ask guys I’ve never met.
Now, all that said, I do have one caveat about when/how NOT to ask:
This has happened to me twice now, and each time I was appalled:
I was standing or sitting talking to someone, and a guy I’d never met approached me while I was talking and grabbed my hand and started pulling towards the floor. As he pulled, he asked, “You said you dance with beginners, right?”
I was fuming. It took all of my effort not to slap his hand away and walk off the floor. The common courtesy that everyone else in the dance world gets, but seems to have escaped these two guys, is: When you ask someone to dance, you ASK, with words, and await their reply. You can add a gesture or offer a hand, but you DON’T GRAB AND HAUL like a caveman and then try to lay a pre-emptive guilt trip on them to prevent them from declining.
So, bottom line is:
A great time to ask is Sunday, when everyone’s more relaxed.
A great time to ask is right after you’ve just had an awesome dance with a trusted friend, so your confidence is high.
A great time to ask is when they are walking out to the floor with someone else – ask if you can have the next song.
Be respectful of WHEN and HOW you ask pros to dance, but don’t be afraid to ask. We’re all human.