Being in step with the dance of dating

zydecoA 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.

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7 responses to “Being in step with the dance of dating”

  1. Steve Lindsley Avatar
    Steve Lindsley

    I have SO wanted to be able to take a date to a dance but, alas, I have a mental block when it comes to learning dancing steps. I took disco lessons in the 70s, Country dance lessons in the 80s and tried to learn swing dancing. I just couldn’t pick it up.
    Goddess, this is something I think most women want … but some of us are just unable to pick it up. I’m told a great story by a colleague who took his wife to dance lessions but just couldn’t get the hang of it. His wife accused him of paying more attention to the attractive dance instructor than learning the steps. He swears he really wanted to learn. He says it’s the biggest fight he’s ever had with his wife in their 30+ years of marriage.
    It sounds as though you didn’t have a bad experience, you had a bad, arrogant (or really self-conscious) date. I would have at least tried … with the understanding that I’m not very good. I would LOVE to learn to swing dance. I WILL keep trying!!

  2. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Steve: We don’t expect a guy to be Fred Astaire, but just to try with a fun spirit! I bet you’d be fun on a date, as you have the right attitude.

  3. Aggressively Single Avatar
    Aggressively Single

    DG, I’m so glad to hear that even you do some of the same things I do that I kick myself for afterwards. Stewing my own juices instead of creating my own good time, not extricating myself when I’m really done with the situation, not knowing right then a diplomatic way of changing the situation.

    I try and learn from each experience the same way you do, which is why it is frustrating that I still make mistakes. Does it get better with more experience and practice? I have to think and hope so! After reading so many books and blogs on the dating rules, sometimes te correct option is not clear: Am I supposed to be a bitch here and insist on what I want, or am I supposed to not care? Am I supposed to be sweet or demanding? Can I just say what I want to or is that bad? Arrggh!

  4. NYSharon Avatar

    I think you were on that date with my ex husband.

  5. […] I love to dance and only one has taken me dancing — and he did so begrudgingly. (See “Being in step with the dance of dating.“) If a man only knew how much mileage he’d get out of doing what I like once in a […]

  6. […] I love to dance and only one has taken me dancing — and he did so begrudgingly. (See “Being in step with the dance of dating.“) If a man only knew how much mileage he’d get out of doing what I like once in a […]

  7. Aaron Avatar


    I am just getting back into dating and I have found a passion for dancing. I watch as some of the dances I go to and I never run out of wonderful woman to dance with. I agree that it is also a great date, going to a dance studio and taking lesson. I have asked all lady friends and they all love dancing. It is a great way to communicate, learn more about each other, and just have fun. If you are a single guy you would be crazy not to learn to dance.