What it Means to be a ‘Social Dancer’

By Laura Riva

Being a social dancer is a fantastic thing. It means that you feel, deep in your core, a desire to connect with other human beings. It means you have a desire to be empathetic, caring, and in tune with the energy around you. We desire to create, channeling our energy into a beautiful experience that is always present and never replicated in any other place. And, unlike many things, we choose to create these magical experiences with a partner.

Being a social dancer means looking inward – not outward. It means feeling, and being ready to feel, all the sensations around you. Music, partners, the floor, the air: social dancing demands awareness of all. If we miss one, we lose them all. It is a delicate balance – and one we spend years perfecting – and we are constantly in search of making it better.

Being a social dancer means you are ready to take care of others. It means being willing to share the magic of dance with people who are further ahead on their dance journey, but also being willing to slow down and help someone take their first step on a road that can change their life. It is this kindness that differentiates people who dance socially from social dancers.

It means you are aware of your own limitations and the limitations of others – without prejudice or judgement. It means that limitations are not problems, but things to be explored, improved, or worked around. It is a culture of lifting up ourselves and others – not tearing them down.

Being a social dancer means we prize connection over aesthetics, kindness over ego, and people over movements. After all, being a great social dancer has less to do with being an amazing technical dancer, and more to do with creating magic between ourselves and others.

We can all be social dancers – but only if we actively choose it. It is easy to lose our way and get wrapped up in the glitz, glamour, and desire to leave the beginnings of our journey behind. But, at the end of the day, we must remember and embrace those beginnings. Without our beginnings, our dance would be nothing; it would be a speck soon forgotten.

We can choose to remember the social in social dancer, or we can choose to forget it. I would like to remember. I would like to remind myself every time that I stand on the floor to ask a beginner in the corner to dance. To teach someone their very first step (after all, it’s the only time it’s OK to teach on the dance floor). To spread the love. To share magic with a master – and a beginner. To share magic with my friends, and those I don’t know well.

I would like to remind myself to be the social in social dancer. The next time you set foot on the social floor, I challenge you to do the same.

This article was originally published on Laura Riva’s blog The Dancing Grapevine and appears here with permission from the author.

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