Sunday, September 1, 2013

Help! My Partner Dreads Dancing Part II : Ten Tips to Overcome Dance Floor Dread

by Deborah Joy Block, National Wedding Dance Expert

In Part 1 of this blog I discussed the common problem I encounter on a regular basis of students (mainly grooms) but sometimes brides expressing serious reservations about dancing, learning to dance and dancing in the spotlight. I explain that dancing has historically been a primal expression of joy and a way for a community to come together in celebration. Although most people end up having fun after they feel empowered I cannot guarantee a good time because 1. I can't control anyone's emotions and 2. it's above my pay grade. However, it IS my job to make you look good in front of your guests and the cameras and I can certainly guarantee good results IF you stick with the program. It's important to first find out WHY your partner is feeling the way he is so that you will know which angle to approach him/her from. So here are a few strategies I recommend trying when dealing with a reticent dance partner. Follow these 10 tips and yo will be dancing and romancing in no time!

1. Validate his/her feelings - Fear is normal. Do not allow yourself to be defeated by it. Live a little!

A Bride's Fears:

“During the wedding planning period, which is inherently stressful, I learned something important about myself: outside of work I really do lack confidence. I was uncomfortable being celebrated as a bride, and the dance lessons brought up a lot of unexpected feelings. Deborah Joy was so cool and supportive, even sending me an encouraging email after one of our sessions. She taught me techniques that enhanced my confidence and pride as a woman. She made us both feel important. We are truly grateful.” makerr, Wedding: 8/4/2012

A Groom's Fears:
So tomorrow [which is tonight for all y'all readers] it all begins.  I am not looking forward to it.  Put me on a baseball field, a football field, or a basketball court and I have all the coordination in the world.  Put me on a dance floor and it's not that i have two left feet.  I'd more say i have no feet at all, just two legs cemented into the ground, with the occasional bend at the knee.
I figure there are three things that can come out of this first lesson:
1.  The instructor realizes I am completely hopeless and asks us not to waste anymore of her time
2.  Amy realizes I am completely hopeless and decides that we shouldn't waste anymore of the instructor's time
3.  The instructor miraculously is able to teach me to keep some sort of rhythm

I think it will be 1 or 2.  I hope the instructor realizes what she's getting into.  Wish me luck. 

2. Give him/her an out - I recommend that nervous grooms approach the whole thing as just a fun learning opportunity and that if he decided at that last minute that he is not comfortable going through with it then change the focus entirely to dancing for fun instead of dancing in the spotlight.  Change the direction of the lessons to focus on how he can learn to transform the same moves into fast dancing when he is not in the spotlight for general dancing, future social events, the honeymoon (or even just in your living room on a rainy night! ;)) Whether he chooses to learn to dance before or after the wedding he should know that dance lessons are  a safe space, working with a professional, with nobody judging him.  It’s an opportunity for the two of you to explore and grow from a new challenge together that ultimately brings you closer. After he has relaxed and started to enjoy himself, have the instructor video you both doing your "First Stand" as the high school prom sway and make him watch the WHOLE dance from his audience's perspective. This combined approach should be enough to convince and compell him to want to continue learning the spotlight dance too.

3. Find a support group - Read testimonials by other grooms on review sites or check out the blog diary of one of my couples  from both the bride and groom’s perspective on their dance lessons. Maybe reading this will be helpful to your groom:

4. Seeing is believing - If the Groom's diary doesn't help, I suggest videotaping yourselves doing the high school prom sway for the whole length of your song and see how it feels and then watch the whole thing from your audience's perspective. See how long you can bear to watch the zombie sway. Or have him watch some simple routines on YouTube to show him other Grooms who were brave enough to take the plunge.

5. Good old fashioned guilt - The bride is generally responsible for the majority of the wedding planning and has to endure the most stress. The First Dance is the Groom's project because he is the Leader on the dance floor so it's the least he can do.

6. Sex sells - Guys who can dance are chick magnets because dancing is an aphrodisiac for women. I call it "Floorplay." So really flirt with him on the dance floor, serenade him, shower him with kisses, run your fingers through his hair, caress him, smile and wink to show your delight with how he is making you feel.  Talk to him with your hips instead of with your lips! But save something for the honeymoon...Dancing is floorplay not "all the way!"

7. Let the teacher be the bad guy - Brides, avoid the temptation to correct your Groom, back lead the steps, micromanage or criticize, anticipate the moves or even give him clues. He has to learn not to rely on you as a crutch so that he doesn't panic under pressure. Give him the space to learn how to become a trained dancer under the watchful eye of a trained and seasoned professional who can objectively provide feedback without the emotional connection. Perhaps the Groom is bristling about lessons because tension rises between you during the learning process or during practice sessions. Be sure to read our "Practice Makes Perfect" tips and let the teacher be the mediator during the lessons. Dance lessons are like pre-marital counseling so practice your teamwork skills! 

8. Make it fun! Take the pressure off of the groom by reassuring him that you are not attached to the outcome. Keep the lessons a secret to reduce the expectations so that your dance floor debut is a pleasant surprise for your guests. The Groom will likely be the expert in the room by the time he finishes his lessons and nobody even knows what he rehearsed. However things turn out you are just grateful that he is making the effort and you are proud of him for trying. Remind him that you are thrilled to be marrying your soul mate and best friend and even if you just use your dance moves at home, it will be a romantic gift. Couples have enough stress planning the wedding, dance lessons should be the most fun aspect!

9. Let the Groom lead! It is tremendously liberating once a man realizes that he is the pilot and you are the passenger. Once he has total control over the situation and clear roles are established I usually see tremendous relief wash over the mens' faces because they realize that this will not be a power struggle or another "compromise." Instead it is his project that he can take ownership of and take pride in creating a magical experience for the Bride. Although there are clear patterns and processes and black and white  at the end of the day he is still right even when he is wrong. So if he dances off beat ladies, just dance to the beat of his heart!  

10. Leave it to the pros - If all of your cajoling fails, perhaps he needs professional intervention. Have him read Part 1 and Part 2 of this article or encourage him to call your instructor and have an open, honest and candid discussion of his fears and concerns. Instructors have heard every reservation, objection and excuse in the book and may be able to talk him down off the ledge. Maybe if given the chance, your instructor can help your groom face the music and dance!

The Wedding Dance Specialists is the premiere national expert of the wedding dance industry. Deborah Joy and Brian Block founded the company in 2000, while engaged and preparing their own "First Dance." Year after year,The Wedding Dance Specialists remain the most recommended wedding dance company according to engaged couples, wedding vendors and the media.  The company has taught over 10,000 engaged couples. Appearing repeatedly on Oprah Winfrey's Oxygen Network, The Wedding Dance Specialists and their students starred on an episode of "Real Weddings by the Knot", the nation's first wedding reality show. In addition to attracting celebrity clientele, The Wedding Dance Specialists were the nations original wedding dance company and have since inspired an entire niche industry that has expanded worldwide!