Every dancer struggles with rejection. It’s heart breaking.
“People who reject you suck! You’re perfect the way you are!” is usually ineffective advice. And on this blog, we hate crappy advice! In this post, you’ll learn about the basics of reading body language and other signals to determine who will most likely say yes.
In real life, you’ll need to make split-second decisions. You won’t have time to whip out this fantastic flow chart. Study it now so the process becomes second nature.
You may be thinking, “This is too complex! It’s just dancing!” Cool for you! It sounds like you don’t get rejected very often. Skip this post and get my free email newsletter, with weekly insider tips for improving your dancing.
If you have guts of steel and don’t care about other people’s feelings, of course you can bend all the rules. However, I don’t especially love dancing with people who don’t read body language or other signals. I definitely recommend learning some discernment and finesse.
First Things First!
Do you actually feel like dancing? Listen to the song. Does it move you?
If you’re very new, you may not yet be able to tell which songs you like and don’t like. That is a-okay! At least make sure you can hear the beat, and that it’s a good tempo for you.
What if you just love to dance to any song that’s played? I’m not completely against this. However, I can tell when my partner would dance to any old song with any old partner. They pay less attention to me and run off at the end of the song to find a new partner.
Don’t be that dancer! People like to feel special.
Making Eye Contact
Eye contact is crucial.
If you want to get more yeses, make eye contact first. This doesn’t mean you stare someone down until they look at you. Remember, we’re learning finesse.
Pick an approachable person who is standing on or near the edge of the floor. Walk towards them, make eye contact, and when you’re close enough to hear their answer ask, “Do you want to dance?” If they don’t look at you or don’t hold your gaze, keep strolling.
Look for the eye contact signal every time. You’ll find your dances become more pleasant and connected.
Warning: DO NOT walk past a line of dancers looking at everyone until someone looks back at you. Pick one person!
Eye Contact Avoidance
Sometimes a person will stand at the edge of the dance floor, even when they don’t want to dance. The normal way to communicate “I don’t want to dance,” is by not making eye contact with people.
Don’t start imagining reasons why someone is avoiding eye contact with you. No one likes to turn other people down. It’s not personal.
Location, Location, Location
When you want to dance, where do you stand? Outside? Near the water fountain? Sitting down behind coats and shoe bags? No way!
People who want to dance stand at the edge of the dance floor. The further away from the dance floor, the less likely they want to dance.
Who is a high-demand dancer? People who are very visible in your community and have been around a while. Maybe they are teachers or just very good dancers. Sometimes they only dance a few times per night.
High demand and low supply means you shouldn’t be surprised if you can’t catch these people for a dance. They want to be normal people, hang out and dance with their friends like everyone else. Perhaps they don’t wish to dance all night with strangers. Motivations evolve the longer you’ve been dancing.
If you have a good opportunity to ask a high-demand dancer, ask! Don’t be insulted by the answer unless they actually insult you—in which case, screw them! Who cares what they think?
Creepiness and Entitlement
Don’t ask someone to dance if you’re going to label them a jerkface, bitch, or elitist for turning you down.
Entitled behavior makes others uncomfortable. And it can be supremely creepy, especially when it’s a man expecting a dance with a woman. You must accept that when you are turned down, the rejector’s reasons are legitimate, and it doesn’t make them a bad person. (This also works for dating, hint hint.)
If you can’t accept that, or are otherwise creepy, go home and do some thinking.
Unless the person rejected you earlier that same night or always says no to you, forget about previous rejections. So what if they said no last month or even last week? If you think you’d enjoy dancing with that person, try again.
If someone refuses you, they may ask to catch a dance with you later in the night. Most people aren’t simply trying to be nice when they say this; they actually mean, “Not now, but probably yes later.” Ask them to dance if you sense the timing is better later on.
Friends Are Your Salvation
Many of these guidelines do not apply if the person is your friend. I mean a real friend. Someone you have conversations with, whom you hang out with outside of dancing.
Why are the guidelines looser with friends? Friends are more likely to say yes. You also know your friends’ body language. Consequently you’re less likely to ask them when they don’t want to dance. And when they say no, you’re not going to take it personally.
Make friends. Dance with them lots.
OMG! Can’t this be simpler?
Yes! It will be simpler when you’ve ingrained these guidelines in your subconscious. That takes time and experience. One day you’ll forget you ever struggled with rejection. You’ll have so many friends and so much confidence from how hard you’ve worked on this. For now, keep at it!
When In Doubt, Ask!
There’s no better way to learn than trial by fire! Or you could get my new book, The Beginner Dancer’s Survival Guide.
What other tips do you have on reading body language? Leave a comment and help others out!
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