Dear Beginner: This is why I told you 'Yes'
I'm so happy you decided to social dance. I'm so happy that
you've decided that this magnificent world has caught your interest
- and I hope it holds it. Welcome to our beautiful family, we open
our arms to you.
You may have noticed that there is a lot of talk about the right
to say "no" to a dance request, and about how this doesn't need
to be shameful or difficult for anyone. There has been a distinct
trend in these articles recently, if you haven't been around
long enough to know such things.
Those articles are completely true
and this article
is in no way
meant to contradict them.
It's very important to realize that everyone has a right
to say 'No' to a request to dance and nobody is entitled
to a dance. So it's good that such things are being said
and taught and strengthened in our culture.
But something hasn't been talked about much lately, because
people often like to look at decisions in a very polar way,
, but it turns out in this
case we can have our cake and eat it too.
You see, dear beginner, there is something I want you to
know about in addition to the right to say 'No' which will
always be yours.
It is beautiful to say 'Yes'
It is also terrifying. Saying 'yes' to any dance request may
make you feel vulnerable. What if the dancer is much better than
you? What if the dancer is much worse? What if they don't like
your dancing? What if they make you look bad?
All of these are based on fear.
And this fear is forgetting one basic point. The simple fact
that all of us
were beginners once. And anyone who sticks
around long enough and works hard enough can be great. We're
all just people who love a dance.
Some people will forget this.
And these people are likely to say 'No' to a dance, though that's
not the only reason people say 'No'. But it takes lots of guts
to say yes. And there's something else that isn't explained
in class. There's something that happens when you dance with people
better than you. And worse than you. And everything in between.
It makes you a better dancer
This is why I have said 'yes' every single time someone has asked me
to dance for almost 20 years now
. Sometimes that has to wait a song
while I am dancing with someone else or getting some water, but I always
find them and follow through.
I believe this makes me a better dancer, and I also believe it makes
our scene better. And yes, there are
rockstars who will go to the dance
and only dance with the other rockstars. As far as I'm concerned, they
have no place in our family. Not because I believe that they have to
with other people, but simply because if they don't want to, then they clearly don't
need us, and it goes both ways.
Because we are a family.
We are all in this together. We all have a passion for this combined
activity - and this is a social
dance after all. It's something
we do with other people.
To be very clear, I do not expect/require/demand that everyone say yes
to all dances. It's just a rule that I hold for myself. At least for
now. Maybe when I hit two decades of this dance I'll reconsider. But it's
done amazing things for me and for the dancers around me.
So maybe you should try it too! I recognize that there may be issues of
safety that should be taken into consideration - always make sure that you
are safe, but you might want to check-in with yourself to make sure you aren't just using
it as an excuse just because you don't feel like dancing with someone.
And I also understand that this may be asking
for more from follows than leads. I realize that an experienced lead with a new
follow is going to generally work out much better than an experienced follow
with a new lead. But in the end, we can only worry about ourselves and
the quality of our own dancing. Worrying about the quality of other people's
dancing is a fool's errand that will take you to very dark and ugly places.
Besides, the Buddha Lead and the Buddha Follow can have a great dance with
any beginner, or even with someone who has never danced before.
What's the Buddha Lead / Buddha Follow? That's a topic for another article
David Ljung Madison, 2016
Written in response to many things, including:
Dear Beginner: This is why they told you ‘No’