Almost everyone struggles socially at some point. If you are confused and feeling rejected, if you need a social pep talk, if you’re having trouble meeting people you can relate to, this post is for you.
All dancers fall into one of these 3 categories:
- People who have been dancing longer than you
- People who started dancing around the same time as you
- People who are newer dancers than you
Seem obvious? Most people mix up the above set of categories with this set:
- Intimidating People. They dance better than you or are part of the cool clique.
- Easy Friends. They dance at your same level (ish) or are easy to approach.
- Forgettables. Whats-his-name? Newbies. Awkward or shy people.
The first set of categories are real. It’s undeniably true that some people have been dancing more or less time than you.
The second set of categories are mental, how we perceive other dancers. Because our brains are flexible, this set of categories is fluid. A person who’s been dancing a lot longer than you can be an Intimidating Person one day, and an Easy Friend the next.
Each category of dancers has their own needs, and thus requires a different approach:
People Who Started Dancing At the Same Time
Hands down, this is the best place to start creating your social circle. People at your same level of dancing are easy to meet and talk to for tons of reasons. They are in your dance classes, they’ll forgive your dance mistakes, and they’ll be most willing to practice with you.
With this group, you’ve been through similar stages in your dancing at the same time. You’re so excited and nervous at the beginning. When the euphoria starts to wear off, you can relate. You’ll go out after classes and dances. And when you realize there’s more to life than dancing (haha), you’ll naturally start making plans to do regular friend things.
- Relax and be yourself. These people aren’t judging you.
- After you’ve seen and danced with them a bunch, feel free to initiate the ritual of going out after a dance or class. This is often where the real getting-to-know-you happens.
- Good topics of conversation: Anything dancing. Hobbies. Work. School. Kids. Anything that gets the ball rolling.
Further Reading: 6 Steps to Ace Your Shyness
Forgetting names and faces is rampant in partner dancing. After a while, even a few months, you find yourself wondering, “Who are all these new people? Where did they come from? Have I danced with this guy before?”
Newer people are worth talking to because you might really like them.
Newer people mainly just want to dance with you. If you’re up for it, those 4 minutes of dancing are a good time investment. Especially when they turn out to be pretty cool months down the road. The dance friends you have now may move on to other interests, have babies before you do, or move away.
- See a newbie outside of dancing? Take advantage of the moment and talk to them for realz. It’s not a commitment to dance with them every night from then on. You’re feeling out whether you might like to be friends with this person in real life. It’s a process.
- A little goes a long way. One dance, remembering someone’s name or a fact about their life. It’s easy to make the bridge to acquaintanceship.
- Good topics of conversation (if you like them and they don’t run off after the dance): Literally anything, so long as you’re smiling and making eye contact.
Further Reading: 23 Ways to Start a Conversation With Any Lindy Hopper
Those Who Have Been Dancing Longer
People who have been dancing longer are usually at a different stage of dancing. The crazy psychotic joy of dancing has long since worn off, and they want different things from their friends. They desire stability in their social group, close ties built on common values and activities in and outside of dancing.
For them, it’s not just about dancing anymore. It’s about connecting. A long-time dancer will often do less social dancing and more chillin’ at dances. They need that space.
Since people naturally trickle out of dancing, there are progressively fewer dancers who have been dancing longer. Your friend group is likely not going to be primarily made up of this category.
- Remember that when you’re feeling intimidated or afraid of rejection, your brain amplifies feelings and creates misperceptions (but it feels so REAL!!). Don’t listen to the mental chatter; it doesn’t control you.
- You might end up friends with a person years after you meet them. Don’t prematurely put someone on your shit list unless they have been concretely mean to you.
- Good topics of conversation: Any common non-dance thing that helps you bond fast. Pets. World travels. Working for the same company. The college you both attended.
Remember that everyone is in every category, relative to someone else. I had a very deflating moment when a student first told me they got really nervous dancing with me. Holy crap! I had become someone’s Intimidating Person. A lot of my feelings were put into perspective.
If you really struggle with this, download the entire course on this topic instantly! Check out No More Dance Rejection (An 8-Part Course).
I’m interested in hearing your tips!
How have you successfully befriended someone you thought was intimidating? How do you make friends with newer people?
Leave a comment, then share this with your friends so they can give us their advice, too.