How to Get Out of a Dance Slump: 10 Ways to Make Ballroom/Latin/Swing Dancing Fun and Exciting Again
Why You Get Bored with Your Dancing
Anything can get boring if you always do it the same way. Even something as exciting as ballroom, Latin or swing dancing can turn into a monotonous routine if you don't make changes. As someone who has been dancing for ten years and is teaching now, let me tell you how I've kept dancing exciting for a decade, and even managed to make it such an integral part of my life that I'm actually pursuing it as a career now!
The key to any long-term commitment is variety. Doing the exact same thing, day after day, will make you craaaazzzy!!! Changing things up, even just a little bit, can make a huge difference!
Here are ten ways to help make dancing exciting for you and how to stop yourself from getting bored and start having fun!
Are you bored with/tired of your dancing?
1) Learn a New Dance:
There are close to three dozen partner dances that you can learn how to dance, when you add up everything from the American and International styles, as well as informal “street” dances and traditional/cultural dances from Mexico/Latin-America.
Learning a new dance can be a fun and challenging experience. You’ll learn new techniques, patterns/figures and ways to move your body. Depending on where you live, you might be surprised to discover that there is a very active and popular scene for the dance you select, thus opening up your dance calendar and social circle to new people and places. Over time the more dances you learn, the easier it will become to learn new material as your brain forms more and more connections. Not to mention, you’ll feel great being able to tell your friends that you learned a new dance and won’t have to sit this one out!
Your regular dance studio may not offer all of these dances, so you may have to check out other places where you can learn how to dance these. I recommend asking your current teacher/studio staff members, dancer friends, social media and websites online for where to go.
“Traditional Ballroom,” Smooth/Standard: American Tango, Regular Waltz and Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot
Dramatic/Passionate Latin Dances: Argentine Tango, Rumba, Bolero, Paso Doble, Flamenco
Spicy, sexy, fun Latin Dances: Salsa (on-1, on-2, Timba/Cuban, Rueda, and more), Cha-cha, Merengue, Samba, Mambo
Informal Latin “Street” Dances: Bachata, Kizomba, Zouk, Cumbia
Swing and Related Dances: East-Coast (Triple-time) Swing, West-Coast Swing, Single-time Swing, Lindy Hop, Jive, Peabody, Charleston (Double-time swing), Blues, Hustle (4-count or syncopated), Nightclub Two-Step
2) Learn a New Style/Variation/Timing of a Dance You Already Know:
If you already know a dance that you are very passionate about and would like to expand your knowledge base/skill-set, you can try learning a different timing for that dance as a way of challenging yourself and learning something new.
For example, if you’re a big on-1 salsa dancer, you can try learning Salsa Rueda (which is a salsa group dance done in a circle with rotating partners), Mambo (same foot positions as salsa on-1, just starting on the 2-count instead of 1, and more staccato body action), or salsa on-2 (which has its own special foot positions and is typically danced in a slot-position).
If you love swing, you can learn Blues, Charleston, Lindy hop, or any of the other swing-timing variations that you don’t already know.
If you usually dance American-style, you can try learning International-style as a challenge, which will allow you to participate in more competitions if you’re a competitor.
3) Start Competing or Performing in Showcases/Spotlights:
This is a great way to take your dancing to the next level as a couple (with your dance partner or teacher) because it’ll set a deadline and motivate you to perform your very best and stop being lazy/lagging behind if you find yourself falling into a rut with your progress. It’s also a great way to shape your technique and improve your dancing because you’ll be really focusing on how good your dancing looks since you’ll have the pressure of performing in front of an audience and being judged against other dancers, which is a lot of attention being directed at you, so no excuses or being lazy!
4) Join a Performing Dance Team/Group:
If dancing as a single couple/on your own is too intense, you can try dancing as part of a performance group at your studio’s showcase or local community event that’s just for fun and doesn’t carry any pressure of winning/losing like you would have in a regular competition, and takes some of the attention off of you since the audience will be looking at the group as a whole and not just you individually. If you enjoy dancing as part of a group, you can sign up for a group that actually competes in competitions with other dance teams/groups.
Salsa Dance Performance Teams
5) Start Learning the Next Level of Your Dance
If you’re taking lessons at a ballroom dance studio, ask your teacher if you’re ready to move up to the next level of difficulty for a particular dance or group of dances. So if you’re in your Bronze level, you would move up to Silver; or move from Level I to Level II, etc.; depending on how your dance studio structures their classes/programs. You’ll learn a lot of new patterns and technique to go with those moves, so make sure you’re ready to make that commitment and get serious about your dancing if you haven’t already.
6) Do a Role Reversal/Learn the Opposite Role:
If you’re a man, you’ve probably been trained to do the leader’s part; and as a woman, you’ve probably learned the follower’s part. This is perfectly fine and totally normal. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to break the norm and learn the opposite, non-traditional role just for fun to supplement your dancing. Wanting to learn both parts doesn’t make you “gay” (regardless of your orientation), because dance teachers know both parts and you don’t hear anyone complaining about that.
Many studios now offer “role-reversal” classes, where the men learn the follower’s part, and the women the leader’s part. You can also ask your private lesson teacher to do the role-reversal with you in your lessons. Or you can sign up to take a beginner’s class in a dance you already know and ask the teacher ahead of time if it would be okay for you to dance/learn the opposite role in class.
Yes, it may sound a little weird at first and make you uncomfortable, but once you get used to it, it’s really not that bad. If anything, it’ll just be hard because you’ll have to think about your dancing in a totally different way.
I’ll admit it was really hard for me to learn the leader’s role at first as part of my teacher training, and remember to start on the opposite foot that I was used to and hold a leader’s frame. But now I get to dance with my female-friends when I go out salsa dancing and lead them around the dance floor, just like any other “guy” and don’t have any problems.
Even if you’re not teaching, learning how to dance the opposite role’s part, is a fun and exciting challenge because it’ll give you a different perspective and a more complete understanding of your dancing, now that you’ll know exactly what goes into it from both sides! If anything, you’ll never be short a partner again since now everyone is a potential partner for you!
7) Start Going Out Dancing Socially More Every Week:
This is a great way to practice your dance skills and put them to the test since you’ll be dancing with all sorts of people and not just your teacher and/or fellow students from your class. You can go to your dance studio’s mixer/practice parties, or out to nightclubs/bars/restaurants that offer dance nights. You’ll meet plenty of new people and get a chance to talk to your fellow dancers and make conversations with people you might not normally have. It’s also really fun to go out and get dressed up if you’re a girl (or a guy who likes to look nice, ha-ha). This is also a great way to discover new areas if you’ve just recently moved and don’t quite know where to go yet. Either way, you’ll be sure to have a lot of fun and feel better at the end of the night than you have if you just stayed in at home watching TV.
8) Start/Take More Technique/Styling/Musicality Classes/Workshops:
This is a great way to improve the quality of your dancing instead of just focusing on the quantity. I love ladies styling classes because they teach me what to do when I’m dancing on my own with a guy in an open/separated dance position and doing shines or alternating/chase turns (especially in cha-cha or salsa), I know how to work it and make his eyes pop out of his head, hahahaha. If you’re a guy, there are plenty of classes you can take too, so don’t feel left out! ;)
9) Start Going to Special Dance Events/Congresses/Festivals:
Special dance events, such as the Salsa Congress or Swing Dance America, are a great place to meet dancers from all over the country (or sometimes the world if you’re going somewhere internationally), and connect with other people who share your passion for dancing. You’ll also have opportunities to take classes/workshops from special/sought-after teachers/competitors and learn things that your regular dance studio might not offer. If anything, you’ll get to spend a weekend having a fun dance party time!
10) Teach/Sign-Up/Bring Your Significant Other/Family/Friends for Dancing:
Sharing your passion and excitement for dancing is a great way to get your friends and family and loved ones more involved with your life. If you’re dating or in a romantic relationship, you can sign up for couple’s lessons or group classes as a way to add some passion and spark to your lives. There’s a saying that “couples who dance together, stay together,” and I agree with it because dancing is so personal, that it only makes sense that dancing together will bring you two closer together. Even if you’re not professional gold-medal dancers, just being able to connect with one another to music will be its own reward. For those of you who are single, you can also sign up your friends for dance lessons, or at least teach them a thing or two on your own, and take them out social dancing with you a couple of nights instead of going out to the movies. Even summer dance festivals outside can be a lot of fun with your friends and family if you bring some food and a blanket (beer or bottle of wine, optional), and just listen to the music and be together!
© 2015 Anya Brodech