I was told once that there is no joy in dating a guy who doesn’t dance. As a serious dancer, I was even advised that I’d be making a big mistake by starting a serious relationship with a guy who doesn’t enjoy dancing as much as I do. As I see it, nothing could be further from the truth.
Granted, when I first started dating my boyfriend, I told him that dancing for me is more so “an extreme support” than it was an “active pasttime.” And, it was true! I mean, a perfect week for me is Bachata on Tuesday night, Kizomba on Wednesday, Salsa on Thursday, a dance social on Friday, Zumba on Saturday morning and an optional dance-related hangout on the weekend.
Church, of course, is on Sunday, but even there I’m dancing along with the music during praise and worship (that’s if I’m not scheduled to participate in a dance ministry presentation). I mean, dance is so much a part of my life (and it has been for so long) that I knew I had to tell him up front or he’d be more than a bit intimidated.
Turns out, it has been fine. Here are my 5 tips to dating a non-dancer.
1. Meet Them at Their Level
The worst thing for a guy is to feel inferior to a woman in any area. If you find out that they’re a non-dancer, it doesn’t make them a bad person. It just makes them different than you. Thus, do your best in meeting them at their particular dance level. Don’t break out the ball changes, ron de jambes and fast footwork when you’re on a dance floor. Start slow and be comfortable with the basic steps until they add more to their repertoire.
2. Encourage them to take a Beginners Dance Class
Offer to take them out to a beginners dance class. After all, you want to begin incorporating them into the dance scene, but in a non-threatening way. The worst thing is to drag a guy to your intermediate Argentine Tango class where he’ll be lost the whole time, he’ll keep bugging the instructor to repeat the steps, your fellow students and friends will grow impatient, you’ll be frustrated and the ENTIRE dance experience is ruined for all parties. Try something simple yet fun like Salsa on 1, Beginning Bachata or Beginning Kizomba lessons. If your guy likes the pace of the class and the moves (which are not too difficult to pick up), he may be eager to go again. Or since it's Valentine's Day coming up, check out a couples dance class and social. Make it an ultimate date night.
3. Do some Freestyle Dance
Put on some music when you’re together and just DANCE. Throw away the steps. Let’s just get him to express his own unique movement and style. No teaching or coaching on formal steps. Allow him to listen to the music and respond naturally to the beat. You can dance fast and apart. You can dance slow and close. Just let the music dictate the steps.
4. Enroll Them in an Online Video Course
Today, the online learning experience has never been so popular. Classrooms have had to evolve to keep pace with the way learners consume content.
Unfortunately, though, with YouTube being the largest purveyor of online video, dance novices are using the platform to spectate; they get sucked into a world of content then grow confused and overwhelmed by the wide variety of dance styles they stumble upon. Is he dancing bachata in that video? Is that sensual or traditional Dominican? Is that bachata, semba or kizomba?
What we do know is that structured online dance lessons are tremendous methods of delivering clear instruction while empowering the learner to steer their own course at their own pace. Check out this non-Youtube online video course in Beginners Kizomba.
The results are amazing, especially for men, for the following two reasons: 1) Men are more visual-spatial and motor learners and a video that can be replayed and that offers close-up shots aligns well with their learning style and 2) It gives them the control they desire over their learning
In learning, giving a person the ability to control the experience allows their energies to provide greater focus on the content.
Steering their own boat forces focus and concentration, and participation means control. The perception of having control of the situation allows the man to anticipate the steps that they may learn in their next physical encounter with their date or in their next class.
5. Help Them Keep the Beat
Finally, help your date keep the beat (in the most non-immasculating way possible). Here’s a method that I use and it allows for my boyfriend (who is rhythmically-challenged) to still leave the dance floor feeling like a man.
Tap softly: When we dance kompa, I will tap out the beat softly on his shoulder and back so that he keeps the 1-2 tempo
Call then stop: When we dance bachata, I call out Step| Step| Step| Hard Step, Step| Step | Step |Hard Step until he gets the timing and then I stop, letting him succeed on his own. It does worlds for his ego.
Whisper Cues: When we dance kizomba, it’s a close hold, so I’ll whisper into his ear 1,2 or 1,2,3 or slow|slow|quick,quick|slow. It feels sweet and intimate. Not demanding.
Most of all, though, encourage, compliment, make him feel like he’s made great strides every single time he’s done on the dance floor. Hopefully, he’s secure enough to allow you to get in a dance or two with a guy whose level is comparable to yours without feeling threatened. You may have to wait for six or so months before he can make it to a Salsa Congress or a Kizomba festival with you. But, be patient. He’ll get there!
TIffani Knowles is the managing editor and founder of NEWD Magazine. Her hope is to become as "newd" as possible on a daily by embracing truth, authenticity and socio-spiritual awareness. She is bi-vocational as she is the owner of two businesses and a professor of Communication at Barry University in Miami, Florida. She is also the co-author of HOLA America: Guts, Grit, Grind and Further Traits in the Successful American Immigrant.