As a West Coast Swing dancer of more than 25 years, I often think about how partner dancing has impacted and influenced my life, as well as the lives of so many others.
Why do we find so many accountants, engineers, computer geeks and professionals whose careers revolve around more individualistic endeavors in the dance scene?
Maybe it is the personal connection we are able to enjoy with each of our partners. An interaction that provides a safe framework yet encourages one to venture outside of the box?
Maybe it is the challenge to escape from our comfort zone?
Maybe it’s the creativity we are driven to explore when our chosen profession is so much to the contrary?
Personally, before I discovered dancing I was very much a loner, not comfortable in crowds, would never even think about speaking in public or performing or doing anything that would grab the attention of others. So content, yet frustrated in my individual world where as long as I did my thing I stayed happy. I was very shy and would often be considered by my family to be in my own little shell.
Even though we do step out of ourselves on the dance floor, whether competing in our first Jack & Jill, putting a routine out there, teaching a workshop, or as an emcee, there is still that underlying personality that is so much of an introvert that at times we still revert to that original personality type.
The experiences we have can be overwhelming at times.
How strange it is that we can feel so alone in such a crowded ballroom.
How we put it all out there on the floor but walk over to our friends with our head bowed because we are still uncomfortable, yet revel in the attention.
How so many of us can have so many friends yet feel so alone.
How that person or group we wish would ask us to join them is also afraid to ask for fear of rejection.
How we can go from being “on and out there” 24/7 on a dance weekend to wanting to shut out the entire world when we get home.
How it doesn’t matter how many of our goals we reach or how much we accomplish, our own insecurities never disappear.
How we forget that the confident and outgoing performer we just watched could actually be as shy and introverted as we are and that’s why they didn’t look at us and smile as we passed in the hall.
I keep saying we… I can promise you one thing, if I thought it was just me I wouldn’t be writing about it. Since I broke out of that “shell” I have become a performer, judge and even emcee, but I also have my introverted moments.
We are not alone, we have a lot more company than we even realize!
When I wrote the initial version of this I was overwhelmed by how many esteemed professionals personally contacted me and told me I was describing them!
The next time it may be you in the same situation… Trying to decide if you want to go to your room and order room service instead of possibly eating alone in a crowded restaurant.
Go ask that person to join you for dinner.
Go Ask that person to come sit with your group.
Welcome new dancers and new members of your community to join your activities.
You never know, you may make the best friend you’ve ever had in your entire life!
Dance for the love of it…. Dance for the experience of it… Dance for the joy of it….
See you on the dance floor!
Gary Jobst – The Pondering Westie
You can take a look at my last article about the Number One Thing Driving Away New WCS Dancers and How YOU Can Help Stop It for more reflection on the WCS dance community and dynamics.