A date and I met some gal pals and their hubbies at a zydeco dance club. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, the music originated in southern Louisiana. Like most dances, there is a basic step, then embellishments as you get more comfortable.
None of us knew the steps so we arrived early for the lessons. Dancing alone to the calls of the instructor, the steps seemed easy — almost ridiculously so. We spent 30 minutes going over the basic steps and some easy variations.
But as soon as we coupled with a partner, things changed dramatically. Now we had to dance in union. And the transitions from one variation to another were particularly problematic for my date and me. It didn’t make matters easier that he treated me as if I was inept, telling me, “In three steps we’re going to change direction.” I’m sure he thought he was being helpful. He was a newbie at this, too, so why was he acting as if I was unable to catch on? If he were just to lead properly, he wouldn’t need to announce his intentions.
I was not having a good time. When the lessons were over, my date and I went to one of the tables ringing the room. We sat there for over an hour, without once dancing together again. The only dancing I did was with my gal pals who got tired of their men not wanting to dance either, so we group danced.
As I reflected on the evening and how I didn’t take more control of having a good time, I thought of how dancing is like dating. (You knew I’d go there, didn’t you?)
- Things are uncomplicated when you are alone. You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s rhythm, or which way they want to go. You don’t have to give a second of concern over avoiding stepping on his toes, or zigging when he’s zagging.
- It is much easier when you have an instructor. The caller made it so simple by telling us exactly which foot to put in front or back. Perhaps this is why we buy dating books and talk to our friends about what we should do — we like having guidance.
- Don’t let someone else’s attitude affect you. It is hard to have a good time if someone seems bent on being overly “helpful,” which feels condescending. I could have — should have — ignored what I felt was patronizing, or told him he needn’t talk to me that way.
- You create your own good time. Since my date seemed uninterested in dancing, I could have commandeered another willing gent. Men were continually walking around looking for partners. What prevented them from asking me was I wasn’t dancing with anyone and was only seen next to my date. I could have easily asked one of them to dance, but I didn’t. I stewed in my own juices instead of seeking a good time.
- Cut your losses. I’d asked my date to dance several times, but he declined. After an hour of watching others dance, I suggested that we leave because he didn’t seem to be enjoying himself, and I wasn’t enjoying only watching others dance. He said, “We’ve only been here an hour and I didn’t pay $26 (the entrance fee) for just an hour.” I now realize I should have said I’d pay him back the $26 so we could leave and try to salvage some of the evening. Or I could have begun to ask others to dance. I did neither. I should have been more adamant about cutting the loss of the evening.
While dancing — and dating — can be a blast, it is so dependent on what you bring to the floor. If you are determined to have a good time, as my gal pals were, you can have one even if your partner isn’t. Yes, it takes determination to have fun when you’re with someone who doesn’t seem to have the same goal. But it’s not impossible if you are clear on enjoying yourself no matter what.