Why Are Men So Shy of Ballroom Dancing?

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Recently I’ve been following a few dance conversations via LinkedIn Groups. An instructor in Canada posted “Why Are Men So Shy Of Ballroom Dancing?” There were many good responses but one stood out for me so I asked permission to reprint his post.  So, thank you Vance Mabry, a competing professional Smooth dancer who has taught social dancing to singles and couples at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio for over 10 years:

“Generally in our culture, women are often first judged on attractiveness, and men on competence. This is why if men feel they are not going to be proficient at something, they generally choose not to engage. This culture does have a significant effect on men, but I have witnessed an even greater effect – the ladies’ attitudes and behaviors towards the men they dance with. Ladies, if you want more men to dance, I would heed the following: If  you are going to ask a gentleman to dance or take lessons with you, be sure to hold your tongue from harsh criticism and guard your body language against wincing/mocking/insulting the man. Sarcasm is ALWAYS perceived as an attack. Avoid comparing them vocally to your professional teacher or other good dancers. The male ego is quite fragile and, as the burden to lead is upon men in couples dancing, easily broken. If you are not a proficient instructor familiar with the man’s part and possessing actual leading experience, do NOT try to teach him any steps. *Especially* on the social floor at a party/wedding/etc. Most of the time it ends in a predictable disaster. I know you want to be swept off your feet and danced, and you are easily bored by the man who only knows 1 or 2 steps… but if you yank his arm up and back-lead the turns you want to do, this is the beginning of the end. You have taken his job and emasculated him in the process. Many ballroom/social dance studios have open houses/guest classes for new people taught by experienced instructors. Invite your man there, and do your best to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Especially remember to smile and light up anything good or fun he might do. Positive reinforcement in any form is the way. Loving patience on the woman’s part has been the most powerful tool I have seen in the many couples I have taught over the years. The women who had it created men who danced with them for a lifetime. The impatient, short-tempered, sarcastic women drove their men out the door in short order. Even if you are not with a significant other, you can have a very strong effect in either direction on the men you dance with just for fun. Good luck out there!”

Thank you Vance!

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