Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting the Most from Events & New Clubs

This is the season for going to dance events, new clubs and trying new classes. I've written a few articles on this topic over the years, so I'll summarize here and reference the other articles toward the bottom.

Rule number one: Say "Hello", "Hi", "Nice to Meet You", or "Wow... you look great" to everyone you see. If you ignore the rest of this article, you have the major point. Now practice it over and over. I'm also assuming your dancing is getting better over time if you're a newer dancer.

After dancing multiple years, I find it interesting how much I get turned down at a new club. I avoid taking it personal, and politely move on. It simply goes with the territory if you're a little older, have a few grey hairs, are very white and/or otherwise a little outside the norm for your local scene.

I'm not complaining, because it always turns around once they figure out I'm not their worst nightmare lead, even if that was their first impression. They remember me and I get asked to dance enough to know I'm making progress. The experience has taught me a few things along the way and I suspect you'll find some interesting points for your situation.

When you find yourself at a new club, keep the following in mind:
  • Everybody gets a few turn-downs if they are unknown
  • Be polite when you're turned down, but move on and ask someone else
  • Keep asking until you get some good dances
  • Dance with the instructors, since they rarely say no
  • Ask someone again after a few weeks
  • Smile when you are dancing, and find a way to have fun with every dance
  • Attend regularly until enough people recognize you
If you're going to a special event this season then similar rules apply, except the pool of new faces is much larger and dancing with new people is more common. There are many things you can do to improve your odds of dancing at an event.

You can apply the concepts to a new club or one where you're not dancing as much as you like.

Again, I've wrote about this before, so rather than repeat all the advice, I'll recap a few highlights and then reference some articles that provide additional details.

Keep the following in mind at an event or club:
  • Most people dance with their salsa "friends" first when possible
  • If you're unknown, don't be surprised if some people won't dance with you
  • There are plenty of people who WILL dance with someone they don't know
  • Don't stop asking, be a little bolder than normal and circulate around the room
  • Say hello to EVERYBODY, all the time, inside and outside the events
  • Be friendly and outgoing whether you're a beginner or an advanced dancer
  • It's a social event for most, and friends trump many other considerations
  • It's normal for ladies to be bolder at events, asking the guys if they're not getting the dances they want
  • Attending the same event (or club) multiple times makes it much easier
Make it a habit to say hello to everybody at the hotel or club. Practice saying "hi" to someone in the parking lot, while checking in, between workshops, or at the pool. Don't limit yourself to your concept of the "important people" or existing dance friends.

Say hello to the housekeeping staff, the waiters, the security guards, people in the elevators, the event check-in, and anybody who makes any eye contact with you while walking by. Do not stand in any line without saying something to the people around you, especially people you haven't meet before. Avoid only talking with existing friends, but expand the people who recognize you at every opportunity.

IT WILL CHANGE YOUR DANCE LIFE! (It also works in "real" life, but that's another subject.)

Saying hi/hello breaks the ice and is very powerful. People rarely turn down someone they recognize unless you're drunk, disrespectful, rough with others, or otherwise rude.

For more suggestions and details, check out the articles I wrote last year (below). There is significant overlap between new clubs and events, so some important points are repeated in the different articles, but they all relate to getting more dances and enjoying your experience.

Let me know what you're doing to make the most of new clubs or events.

Related articles:
The Power of Greetings
Why Don't the Guys Ask Me? (obviously for the ladies)
Breaking into A Congress or Event (Part 1)
Breaking into a Congress or Event (Part 2)

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  1. Good advice! (except for the part about saying "wow you look great" to women you don't know...proceed with caution, it could come off as a little skeezy).

    I wrote on this topic from the woman's perspective a while back:

  2. "Don't take it personally when they say no, they just don't know you yet."

    How ironic! Since they don't know you yet, why don't they give you a chance, just like you did to them by asking them? They say no = they're NEVER going to know me!

  3. Maria,

    Great clarification... you're correct with the compliments. Some people can take them wrong, so I recommend those are only given when they are sincere. No matter what you say, some people will take them wrong so it's important you don't overdo it.

    I like your article and I hope everybody reads it!

  4. Anonymous: I probably should have said something like "They haven't seen you enough to be comfortable..." Most will say yes once they've seen you around regularly. If you're saying "hi" to people and they see you regularly, it tends to break the ice.

    Nothing is perfect, and some won't dance with you they see you around and/or they see your dancing first. I understand that and based on some new guys being so out to lunch, it tends to get generalized toward someone who's a new face. Not always fair, but understandable in my book.

    I appreciate your feedback, it helps me clarify! If I missed something, please fire away.


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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero