It’s funny, I never really thought about chivalry until I started dancing. When I began dancing, I was very shy and incredibly intimidated by the thought of approaching women to dance. I’ve thankfully grown out of that phase, but even back then. I realized that there was a very distinct social dynamic between men and women. In the Salsa world, or the Latin dance world, in general, there exists unique way that men and women interact.
Some people who are friends with one another just get up, grab the other and start dancing while other people would offer a hand or politely ask. Still others would point to a lady and command her to come to him and lack any manners whatsoever. Suffice to say, in most cases that did not go over very well.
Fast forward to the present day and not a beginner class goes by where I don’t address this very topic right off the bat. I’ll always say something like: “Gentleman, there used to be something back in the day called ‘chivalry’ which was another way to say good manners. This ‘chivalry’ existed as a way for men to show class and dignity when approaching or dealing with women.” Obviously, I’m joking in the way I present the information but I couldn’t be more serious. I think because I’m older now, I’m looking around seeing the younger guys interact with women, and I realize it’s someone needs to say something. So, this is a special note to my fellow men and people in general in salsa scene:
“Stop being @$$holes and start showing the opposite sex some respect!”
Here’s the thing, I’ve always had this weird feeling about women and their role in all of this. You see, when a man approaches a woman in a very blunt kind of way without manners and the woman accepts the dance, she’s empowering him to act this way. I’m not saying that it’s entirely woman’s fault, it’s just sad to see that women don’t expect much from men these days. So, I propose something different. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest we do a little bit better than we’ve been doing and start showing women some reverence. The irony is, that most men afraid to ask women to dance because they’re afraid of getting rejected. If they learned how to ask in the first place their chances of dancing and interacting would go up exponentially.
Now then, we can’t be overly polite and ‘mousey’ about things, we must learn to ask women with a little bit of confidence. I must note that many men mistake arrogance for confidence. They’re not even good substitutes. A confident man walks tall and is very sure of himself and has no problem looking the lady in the eye and extending his hand, smiling and asking a simple question.
“Would you like to dance?”
Most women will respond very well to this approach, and she’d have to be either tired or just completely closed off to reject such a welcome advance.
I am very well aware that some of you gentlemen reading this got into dancing to meet women in the first place. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s not a great way to interact with the opposite sex, on the contrary. Surprisingly, you’d be startled to find out that if you focus on dancing the interactions with women will come. On the other hand, if you spend all your time trying to hook up with women, they will see this coming from a mile away, and it reeks of desperation. It just gets worse if your dancing is poor, you get put on the dreaded blacklist.
I would suggest that you spend some time getting into dancing, I promise it’s very enjoyable! This way, you can have fun with people and they can also enjoy their time with you. When you become someone who is enjoyable to dance with they might be more interested in getting to know you better. Lead with a ‘dance first’ mentality as opposed to a ‘hook up first’ mentality as women have a great sixth sense that men often lack.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that some women have been known to be rude and impolite when a gentleman asked her to dance. Now as a man you might not think that I would understand what it’s like to be objectified but I have a story to tell you:
You see, I went to art school in San Francisco before I ever took my first dance step. I went through a hellacious three years where every gay man thought I was gay, and almost all the women thought so too. It was an unhappy time to say the least. As you can imagine, going to the gym and trying to take a shower was an adventure in itself. Think about this women: what if you went to the gym and the locker rooms are co-ed. Imagine you were trying to shower and every guy was gawking at you. Well, this is precisely what happened to me. So, believe me when I tell you ladies that I can understand what it’s like to be looked at as if I was a walking corn dog that was waiting to be eaten.
What I’m trying to say is I understand the feeling of being objectified. To be fair, many of the gay men in San Francisco were very polite when they would approach me whereas others were crass and vulgar and apparently just trying to hook up. I was never rude to the people who were gracious to me and especially pleasant to the people who understood that I just had a different sexual orientation. On the other hand, there were many more people who were kind of abrasive. Several suggested that I had that I needed to give them a chance and that I didn’t know what I was missing. In other words, they were creepers. The more aggressive the person gets, the less attractive they get in an instant. So gentlemen, if a lady is rude to you, she just might be unattracted to you, and that’s okay. Sometimes women are there to meet someone and they might be just looking for some type in particular. That said, ladies, it’s not okay to be rude to someone who comes up to you and asks you to dance, and I specifically mean people who are coming at you correctly and politely.
The social dynamics of the scene are unique and as we’re meeting people for the first time, it’s best always to leave a good first impression. It’s true, sometimes people might catch you on a bad day or just had an off moment and we might become rude for a moment. Just be mindful not to do it again in the future and you’ll be all the better for it. As a believer in karma, I try my best to do this, and it’s served me well.
How has your social dynamics in the Latin dance scene gone? Is it different depending on the style of dance?
I’d love to hear your stories!
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Until next time, to your dancing…