Thursday, December 8, 2011

Even the dance floor has a glass cieling

Although dancing is a predominantly female hobby, the female part of it has a high turnover rate. A lot of women take up dancing only to give it up a few months later. The reason? Men are at a premium.

Even in social dancing, a man has his pick of any woman he likes. Women don't have exactly the same options. Of course, it is the 21st century, so if women want to dance, they should be able to ask, right? In theory yes, but when the ratio is so imbalanced, there may not even be anyone to ask!

Old fashioned or not, it's extremely demoralizing for a woman if she always has to do the asking. She sees all the "hot" chicks, who may not even be good dancers, get snatched up every song, never waiting even a moment for a guy to ask her to dance. Meanwhile, the observer waits as long as an hour for a guy to ask her to dance. So, she waits, every minute her self esteem plummeting exponentially.

She knows it's not because of the guys' shyness because she sees them asking all those other women. If she's new, she may not be savvy to the unspoken snobbery that sometimes occurs (some people will only dance with people they know). If she's not new, it's all the more demoralizing. Is she too ugly? Is she too fat? Is she too old? Is she unsexy? Is her outfit wrong? Is she a terrible dancer? Is there some awful rumor going around about her? All of these thoughts catapult themselves against her confidence. A gal can only take so much bombardment before she breaks down. 

Argue all you want about how her fate is in her own hands and if she wants to dance, she should ask the guys (though not sure how that works when there aren't any), but everyone knows how hurtful it is to be picked last or to never be picked at all, especially when you're not picked for superficial reasons. Yeah, yeah, it's her fault for not having confidence. Way to blame the victim. Besides, it's tough to have confidence when you're always beaten down. It's funny, combating bullying is all the rage these days because it hurts kids' self esteem so dramatically, but I guess when you grow up, how others treat you doesn't matter.

But I digress.....

Even gorgeous women who do get asked to dance all the time are at a disadvantage. If a woman, skilled or not, hot or not, wants to take her dance skills up a notch she will usually find herself incredibly frustrated at her inability to find a solid dance partner. Men are already at a premium, and men who want to dance in shows and competitions are even higher dollar. There are only a handful of them and most of them have partners already. If they don't, they are extremely picky about whom they'll consider.

She could also consider hiring a male dance instructor for pro-am competitions, but that costs quite a pretty penny. On average, private lessons cost anywhere from $75 up to $300. A pro-am instructor will want to practice at least twice a week, if not more. Unless the instructor owns a studio, then you'll also have to pay for floor fees in order to practice. Next, comes the competition, for which you pay registration. At first glance that one aspect might seem cheap. Some of them are as low as $25, but this is PER DANCE. Just like in other sports, there are "heats." You may have to participate in 10 heats, which means $250 more to cough up. We won't even talk travel costs, hotel stays, shoes, and costumes. 

Maybe she can afford a few private lessons, even if they are between $75 and $300. She'll be happy because she'll have the attention and criticism she needs to become a better dancer, but then what? It's not like her instructor is going to dance with her in shows and competitions. It also doesn't solve the lack of partner problem. At best, she can take her newly found skills out on the social dance floor with her, but she won't be dancing with many people who are at the same level as her instructor. Like any other skill, use it or lose it.

For a much lower price than the two above, she can try a performance team. Lots of dance companies/instructors have performance teams that do a few shows for several local dance studios and socials. Some may travel out of state, some may not. She's still paying for the lessons and the floor fees, but with all the other couples on the team, the cost is significantly reduced. This is probably her best option. She will still learn a lot and will still get to do a few shows, but it still won't be a competition. If it's a competition she wants, then it's going to be a long, arduous journey.

All of these factors combined can leave some women extremely embittered to the point that they give up dancing altogether. Others stick with social dancing, all the while wishing they could do competitions and shows, but knowing the never will. It's a sad state of affairs and there is almost no remedy.  

It's not to say that women get no satisfaction out of simply dancing socially. Most of them do. Shows and competitions aren't even in those women's minds. For the ladies that are looking for these opportunities and started somewhere after age 7, good luck to you!  

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