I have a friend who I brought out social dancing for the first time this past Friday, and I witnessed “the fear.” It’s something that I’ve seen before. It’s something that I’ve felt before: Overpowering anxiety at the prospect of asking someone to dance. I call it The Fear. Hilariously enough, the group that has studied this the most is the seduction community. They call the fear of walking up to someone “Approach Anxiety.”
One group I see with approach anxiety is Novice leads. They’ve taken some classes, come to a social dance and run smack into it. Maybe it’s being intimidated by people with higher skill. Maybe as someone new to the scene, the lead has feelings of lower social status, or like an outsider/loner. Maybe dancing is still linked with relationships or sensuality. Maybe it’s just the simple fear of rejection. Another possible source is the fear of being bad at dancing.
Another group I see with the fear is… most follows. Yes, I know, that’s a generalization. But today, in 2011, lots of women feel the echoes of gender roles set in the nineteenth century. “Men are supposed to ask women to dance.” Breaking out of that role is scary regardless of how high status one might be perceived to be. Or this might work against the high-status follow who shares the problem of the apocryphal pretty girl who never gets asked out on dates (they’re both too scary to ask), which feeds the idea that maybe no one wants to ask.
My Experience With Approach Anxiety
My first night of dancing social Lindy Hop (just about four years ago), I didn’t actually do any dancing. I leaned against a column for over an hour, watching the dancing, then lied to myself about needing to leave. Seriously. You can read about it right there in the blog entry.
To this day, I still have the fear. There are people who I won’t ask to dance because I’m intimidated. Lots of the local professionals are on that list for me. Why? Well, lots of times, I perceive that professionals project an invisible wall around themselves to avoid being approached. Sometimes my perception is that professionals are at a social dance really just to work on dancing with their partners and maybe with the occasional other high-status dancer, a group which I just unconsciously discounted myself from. And sometimes it’s just fear of being judged. And yes, I recognize that all as internal stuff, as opposed to reactions based on actual statements or attitudes held by people.
What To Do?
There isn’t a single simple solution that matches up with everyone, but in Lindy Hop Approach Anxiety Pt 2, I’ll discuss some ideas and tactics I’ve used.
Have you ever struggled with Approach Anxiety? Can you figure out specifically what you were afraid of?