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Rob & Dawn Shrewsbury, Orlando swing dance instructors

How to get your husband/boyfriend to dance

Posted on September 6th, 2007 by

Okay, so I thought I would tackle a really common and a really difficult question we get asked a lot by the ladies. How do you get your husband or boyfriend to learn to dance with you? I thought it would be best for me to take on this big question instead of Dawn since, at one time, I was in your husband/boyfriend’s shoes. That’s right, there was a time when I had no interest in learning to dance. So what magic did Dawn work on me? Well, she wanted to learn to dance for our wedding and decided to bring up the idea of taking lessons right at the point where she was most stressed out with the wedding planning. Needless to say, the potential outcome of saying “no” didn’t seem too appealing so I humored her and went along with it. As we’ve said since, she drug me out to the first lesson and I drug her back.

So having been in the “I don’t want to dance” mode, what advice can I give to you to help you convince your husband or boyfriend to dance?

The disclaimer: Keep in mind that there isn’t a silver bullet approach. If your husband or boyfriend really doesn’t want to dance, he won’t. You can’t force him. The best you can do is to encourage him to try out dancing to see for himself if he really likes it or not. Given this, there are several things you can do to help the process along.

What he means: Most of the time, there is more to “I don’t want to dance” than face value. For the typical American male, he is expressing that he is extremely uncomfortable with the idea of learning to dance. Let’s face it, our society is geared towards encouraging men in sports and not in the arts. To many, the thought of dancing might not be that bad, but the initial steps to learning to dance is intimidating to say the least. This is what you have to overcome. It’s your job to be encouraging and make him feel comfortable.

The odds: The odds are actually in your favor. The biggest hurdle is just getting guys out dancing for the first time or two. Once they discover that it is fun, they usually want to come back for more. This was true in my case, and we see it time and time again in our classes and at our dances. More often than not, beginner classes have more ladies than guys. However, the more advanced the class gets, the offset tends to go the other way. You start to end up with more guys than girls. Why is this? Well, there are many reasons, but one of them is that guys tend to stick with dancing longer than women. Women tend to view dancing as a fun and casual hobby. However, for guys, once they get hooked on dancing they tend to become die-hards. Besides the fact that dancing is a confidence booster, once guys start to master a skill like dancing, they tend to stick with it.

So what can you do?

Encourage and discuss. Whatever you do, don’t push or force him into dancing. That won’t make a pleasant experience for either of you. Instead, discuss with him that you would like to learn to dance together. The together part is important. So many couples today have different careers and different hobbies. Spending time together is becoming a rarity. Dancing is a hobby that you can share together and use to spend evenings out together. In addition, it’s an activity that strengthens your relationship and forces you to work together as a team. This is an excellent point to bring up to encourage him to try it out. Also mention that he won’t look silly or out of place and that you’ll be right there in the same boat the whole time. You can also bring up things like the exercise aspects of dancing, how social it is, and how much fun dancing is. The romantic aspects of dancing don’t tend to have big appeal with guys and you might want to spend less time on these.

Find the right place. Once your significant other has decided to give dancing a try, you need to select the right place to start. This can make all the difference in the world and spell success or failure for your dancing future. Look for classes or lessons that are cost effective for you. That way he can’t say “it’s too expensive”. Watch out for studios that offer attractive intro rates but drastically increase their rates after the introduction period is over. Also, be sure to interview your potential instructor. Find out how friendly and encouraging they are. Ask how many other beginner couples they have worked with and what they do to make them feel at ease. Make sure their personality will blend well with yours and your boyfriend/husband’s. This is the biggest factor in success. The only reason I returned after my very first lesson is because my instructor made it fun.

Find the right dance. This is something people often forget about. Ladies might be interested in the grace of waltz and the romance of tango and prefer to learn ballroom dancing. However, this may not appeal to guys. Men may be more interested in street dances such as salsa or swing. Be sure to discuss this with your husband or boyfriend. You may want to focus on a form of music he likes and learn a dance works best with that. Granted, I am bias, but swing tends to offer the most universal appeal for guys. It’s sort of a “safe dance”. It’s fun and energetic and doesn’t tend to have many traits that the American male would label as “feminine”. It doesn’t require you to move your hips like in a Latin dance and can be applied to a wide variety of music styles (probably one of which your S.O. likes). While ballroom dance shows boomed on TV recently, we’ve actually seen many couples turn to swing dancing because it is a form of music and dancing that both enjoys.

Lost in a crowd (or not). Some guys react better to group classes and some better to private lessons. This is something to bring up and discuss. Group classes are more cost effective plus it tends to show guys that they are not the only person in the learning process. However, some guys may react better to a few private lessons to start out with. The one-on-one attention may be more encouraging. Ether way you go, be sure you go out and dance. You won’t become good dancers by lessons alone. You have to apply what you learn. In this case, it’s often good to go out to a more crowded dance night for the first few times. Guys tend to fear being put in the spotlight. There is no better way to overcome this than being lost in a crowd.

Maybe a trade? Relationships involve give and take. Is it really fair that he tries something you want to do, but you don’t do the same in return? Offer to return the favor. Maybe offer to take some golf lessons with him or whatever he is interested in. We’ve seen this work for several couples. Not only do they end up with one hobby they enjoy together, but they get two!

Most of the time, the hardest part is getting guys over their initial fear of learning to dance. For many, it’s the fist time they have been exposed to such a thing and can lead to being very apprehensive. The best you can do is be encouraging and reassuring. Nine times out of ten, guys discover that dancing is a lot of fun and is a great activity that you can do together.

Interesting things to note: Single guys are usually very open to learning to dance since it’s a great way to meet other single people. Guys in new relationships are usually fairly open as well as it’s fun to find new activities you can do as a couple. However, the longer guys have been in a relationship, the harder it is to convince them to try dancing. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We just get set in our ways and sometimes it takes some encouragement to try something new.

Does it ever work the other way around? Yes. While it tends to be the rare case, we have seen some guys that have a hard time getting their wives/girlfriends to dance.


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