Hello Nikki! I really wanna learn how to dance, but I don’t know how! I’m so jealous of my younger siblings because they can dance to ANY SONG. Honestly, I just don’t feel the beat and it’s so awkward whenever I try to bust a move. Please help!
Hi Dancing Dilemma,
Okay, I’m SO glad you wrote to me about this, because I think a LOT of people worry about it! Even people who you might consider good dancers. Maybe even your younger siblings!
And as we get into middle school and high school, there’s all this pressure to be cool and know exactly what to do at school dances…
So here’s the first thing to remember—EVERYONE feels awkward when dancing around other people at first. Even people who’ve been taking dance lessons their whole lives feel awkward, because school dances are a totally different thing!
But, the great thing about it is that everyone’s too busy worrying about themselves to judge what YOU’RE doing! And if anyone is standing off to the side, judging how people are dancing, that’s only because they’re not confident enough to get out there and dance themselves!
So, try to ditch the self-consciousness, relax and just have fun! I can assure you that almost no one is watching you, even though it might feel like the whole room is staring. And if you ever dance with a crush, remember that it’s even MORE true that the other person is not judging you. They’re too worried about themselves, or too busy geeking out over how they’re dancing with YOU. Just try your best to enjoy yourself! ☺
You also don’t have to be a great dancer to blend in and have fun. It’s totally fine to dance in a simple, repetitive way. That’s what most people on a dance floor are doing.
So here the basics of simple, repetitive dancing:
- Feel the beat! Okay, you said you struggle with this, and it is kind of one of the most fundamental parts of dancing. But! It’s also something you can totally learn. One is not born with the ability to feel the beat or not feel the beat. There are lots of helpful videos on YouTube that teach you how to stay on beat. I’ll provide a link to one of them below at the end of this post.
- Practice. Don’t wait until you’re on the dance floor at school to work on finding the beat! Practice this at home, alone, with music you really like, music that makes you feel happy and energized. But if you ARE on a dance floor, you can often watch someone who has great rhythm and mirror them to find the beat. You don’t have to copy their dance moves, but just watch how they’re moving their shoulders or stepping side to side and use their beat! (You could also use this mirroring technique at home – watch music videos and let those dancers help you find the beat. With enough practice, you’ll be able to do it on your own!)
- Keep it basic. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with basic! To blend in with 80% of people on the dance floor, you need to do some combination of a few simple moves. Let’s start from the top of your body and go on down. Nod your head subtly. Not like a bobble-head or anything, just a little groove. Move your shoulders with the beat. Simple, repetitive arm movements. Could be a clap or a snap, could be a subtle waving back and forth. Nothing huge. Move your hips back and forth with the rhythm. Bounce on your knees a little bit. (No pogo-sticks, though.) Step side to side. You don’t have to do ALL of these. But you probably want to do at least three? Because if you just stand there bouncing up and down, or just waving your arms, you’ll look a little silly. If you combine a few of these things, you’ll totally blend in.
- Practice. I know I already said this, but at first we were just practicing the beat. Now that we’ve added a few moves, practice them at home, with music you really love, so that it feels more natural when you’re around other people.
Below are links to two videos. The first one is on how to find the beat and stay on it. The second is how to do three cool and easy dance steps.
And that’s it! Like most things, dancing with other people is mainly about confidence. If you’re feeling good and having fun, people around you are going to see that. If you’re insecure, they’ll probably see that too. So, practice at home to build your confidence and remember that EVERYONE is dealing with his or her own insecurities. Finally, get out there and enjoy the music!