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Author Topic: Breaking into a new social dance "scene"  (Read 3243 times)
MusicChica
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« on: April 18, 2009, 01:31:27 PM »

So this crossed my mind while at cornutt's studio last night:

What's the process for breaking into a new social scene?  Last night I didn't hardly sit down, which is quite unusual in the experiences I've had, and I wondered if the size of the studio had something to do with it.  My studio is quite large, and while I was never made to feel unwelcome there, when I first started attending, I didn't dance much because I didn't know anyone.  Even now I don't dance every dance, because people around here tend to only dance with their friends since there are just too many people there to make a full circuit--there are only about 2 or 3 guys I regularly get more than one dance in per night with, and the rest of my dancing comes from men I don't know that well that usually only ask once per night.

Obviously, the men to women ratio also has a huge impact; at my studio in my hometown, the ratio is heavily skewed towards women, so nobody gets to dance a whole lot even if you've been there for a long time.

Or the atmosphere of the studio could have an affect too--whether the studio's very laid-back, or is a bit more formal, etc.

But last night, even though it was my first time there, I didn't feel out of place at all.  And the man-woman ratio was fairly even, so I didn't have to sit out for that reason.  So my thought was, what have been your experiences about breaking into a new social dance scene?  Do you think there are any particular reasons for feeling the way you do about a new scene?
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elisedance
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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2009, 01:34:43 PM »

interesting topic MC.  The norm here (least all the studios/dancehalls Ive been to) is that you are ignored until you make friends and even then you may still be ignored.  Odd because the Torontoans are on the whole very friendly.  I think the problem is that a dance partnership here is akin to a marriage - no one would dare to dance with me without first asking my partner's permission!
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« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2009, 03:23:55 PM »

I was at every studio social as I worked there for a time.  Most men came there with their wives and only danced with their wives, so I didn't get asked to dance by very many married men.  Then, everyone knew there were some dances I would prefer not to dance: salsa or cha-cha.  Then, I think there might have been this perception that I was a really good dancer because I was always there, even though I had one lesson a week, no more than anyone else and less than a few other people. 

So, I would get a couple of dances with one of the instructors, one or two with my instructor, but he had to make the rounds and as he told me once, I was staff, so he couldn't spend that much time with me; and maybe one or two other dances from younger guys, guys whose wives weren't fond of the dances I liked, or the men who were there without wives.  All in all, I might have gotten 5 or 6 dances in 2 hours. 

And this was where everyone knew me!  I wonder if it depends on the location.  Southerners, as you know, MC, are pretty friendly folks!
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Medira
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« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2009, 03:26:19 PM »

I have found that it is entirely dependent upon the venue and the crowd at said venue.  Like Elise, I have been to a lot of the Toronto and Southern Ontario-area venues and some are certainly more welcoming than others.  The main difference between myself and Elise is that I dont have a partner right now.  Im sure that probably changes things when it comes to a strangers willingness to ask me to dance.

In addition, I have been lucky enough to dance throughout New England and have found a wide range of experiences down that way.  I have had nights where I was able to work my way in and dance, yet I have been to other socials in the same area that have left me feeling completely useless as a dancer.

The people make the venue.

As for a process, I really dont have one.  I find people to introduce myself to when Im not dancing and, if Im out for a song and feel like dancing, I try to ask people who are sitting out as well.
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emeralddancer
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2009, 05:25:13 PM »

Went to a new place last night. Not a BAD experience. But not good on the getting asked to dance part either. Studio was wonderful, people nice. But I primarily danced with an amateur who was "visiting" with the intent to move here. One other person asked me to dance because he was the "host" that evening and it was only one dance in which he said my rumba was passable. (I did warn him I WAS a standard dancer, LOL)

I think I shocked the hell outta people though when I did dance a VW around the floor with the "new" guy. So much fun! And no one else was dancing. It was like putting on a show. So lovely.

But most stuck to their "own" Funnier still I knew quite a few people there from my own "home" studio and they didn't even bother to ask. (and when I asked I was politely turned down) Sigh .......

Most of the studio's in my neck of the words is very "cliquish" for lack of a better word. I am "technically" still very much of an outsider and I have been dancing 2 years now. LOL


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QPO
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2009, 08:59:59 PM »

I always enjoy trying new venues and groups and you do see the same people all the time....

If you do the VW you generally do that the dance floor to yourself there are not that many getting up...

It is sad when you are single that you can't guarantee getting dances, I have single girlfriends here also that have the same problem. Most of the venues cater for couples
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elisedance
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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2009, 12:18:28 AM »

Went to a new place last night. Not a BAD experience. But not good on the getting asked to dance part either. Studio was wonderful, people nice. But I primarily danced with an amateur who was "visiting" with the intent to move here. One other person asked me to dance because he was the "host" that evening and it was only one dance in which he said my rumba was passable. (I did warn him I WAS a standard dancer, LOL)

I think I shocked the hell outta people though when I did dance a VW around the floor with the "new" guy. So much fun! And no one else was dancing. It was like putting on a show. So lovely.

But most stuck to their "own" Funnier still I knew quite a few people there from my own "home" studio and they didn't even bother to ask. (and when I asked I was politely turned down) Sigh .......

Most of the studio's in my neck of the words is very "cliquish" for lack of a better word. I am "technically" still very much of an outsider and I have been dancing 2 years now. LOL

I hope new-guy does move there - you will at least have one friend.  Sorry that your studio mates were so churlish - thats truly bad form. 

When I lived in Baltimore I found the residents very slow to accept new people.  Unlike Washington DC down the road where a good fraction of the population turned over each election and where one was accepted in about 3 years, I was in Baltimore for 9 years, 7 in the same house, and was still regarded as an outsider.  Perhaps its the same with the studios....
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ttd
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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2009, 05:40:53 PM »

I think it depends on the area. We used to live in an area, where all social dancing was so much couples-oriented, that I didn't even bother going to the socials when my husband was out of town (we danced together back then). Once our teacher invited me to come to the social by myself (when I told her my husband will be out of town that day). I think I got 2 dances that evening - both with her.

Here people mix and mingle at the parties more, and there are a lot more unpartnered dancers too, and I don't think it has taken me that long to become part of the local dance scene. There were some ongoing changes in the scene too, which sort of brought the dance community together as well. But when I go to a less familiar place (i.e. I have a lesson 2 hours away and stay for the open party), I do not get as many dances.
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cornutt
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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2009, 09:53:56 PM »

Here people mix and mingle at the parties more, and there are a lot more unpartnered dancers too, and I don't think it has taken me that long to become part of the local dance scene. There were some ongoing changes in the scene too, which sort of brought the dance community together as well. But when I go to a less familiar place (i.e. I have a lesson 2 hours away and stay for the open party), I do not get as many dances.

To kind of tie this thread back to what MusicChica posted: Huntsville is not exactly a small town, but it's no Toronto or Sydney or Los Angeles or Nashville.  And because of that, I think there's a realization that if we are going to maintain a viable ballroom dance scene, we can't afford to be insular.  There are a lot of people at our studio who make an effort to spot visitors and newbies and try to make them feel welcome.  And Mendy Langford sets a great example -- she's one of the most welcoming people you'll ever meet. 

And MC made an interesting observation too.  As she said, the studio she dances at in Nashville is quite large.  The main room itself is far larger than our entire building.  The seating is roomy and spread out, and there's lots of other areas in the building where you can go -- a second dance floor, dressing rooms, the lobby, etc.  By contrast, our studio has almost no off-the-floor space; the seating is all crammed together, and the restrooms and a small office are the only public areas that aren't visible from the floor.  As she said, at the studio she dances at in Nashville, you can spend the entire evening without coming into contact with half of the people there, whereas the layout of our studio forces everyone together.  I wonder how much of a difference that makes.
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ttd
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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2009, 11:36:10 PM »

Here people mix and mingle at the parties more, and there are a lot more unpartnered dancers too, and I don't think it has taken me that long to become part of the local dance scene. There were some ongoing changes in the scene too, which sort of brought the dance community together as well. But when I go to a less familiar place (i.e. I have a lesson 2 hours away and stay for the open party), I do not get as many dances.

To kind of tie this thread back to what MusicChica posted: Huntsville is not exactly a small town, but it's no Toronto or Sydney or Los Angeles or Nashville.  And because of that, I think there's a realization that if we are going to maintain a viable ballroom dance scene, we can't afford to be insular.  There are a lot of people at our studio who make an effort to spot visitors and newbies and try to make them feel welcome.  And Mendy Langford sets a great example -- she's one of the most welcoming people you'll ever meet. 
Yes, that applies here, too. Our town's population is about 100K, not sure how that compares to Huntsville, the ballroom scene is not large (afterall it's not East Coast, it's Midwest). So to sustain it, people have to be more social, I guess. The bigger cities where I go to take lessons sometimes are about 15 times size of ours, so the scene is proportionately larger and being an unfamiliar face there is harder.
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StageKat
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2009, 03:19:39 PM »

Love this! Love all the comments on it too!
I've said it before.. I'll say it again... and this time quantify it geographically I guess  Wink

I have always equated breaking into a new social dance scene in the Chicagoland area to attending a new school. You're likely going to be entering a venue be it studio, club or dance hall where relationships among most have already been established. Folks have already got their social dance partners and friends and are a little weary of anyone that just pops in to that scene. I have found that you either have to be exceptionally outgoing to break in... or exceptionally persistent and keep showing up to make yourself a familiar face. (The former works much faster than the latter).

Heck I've been dancing for close to three years and going out socially off and on for the last 1.5... and I'm STILL breaking in as a familiar face.... time to just suck it up and become exceptionally outgoing! :p   
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elisedance
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2009, 04:48:23 PM »

well - seems like you're breakin' in here OK Cheesy
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Some guy
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2009, 07:12:45 PM »

I guess I've been spoiled rotten!  People over in my neck of the woods are very warm and welcoming in the social dance scene for the most part.   I've heard stories of cliques, but they are so few and far between that it doesn't really hurt the social dance scene too much.
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QPO
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« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2009, 03:16:39 AM »

We were lucky, we started at a school that focused mainly on soical dancing and of course it was predominately New Vogue, so we knew very few daces. Everyone was very encouraging and warm and inclusive. I am glad we had such a good start. We try to do the same for others that are new.. the only thing that was not good was learning the bad habits that we are still trying to break  Undecided
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elisedance
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« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2009, 04:19:25 AM »

dance habits I assume Smiley 

I think this needs a topic...
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
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