How can I learn how not to totally stand out at a Dance Club? (or how I can't dance)

…besides changing my race to non-white :wink:

So I went to a dance club last night with a few friends (I’m a dude, fyi), and realized just how much I can’t dance. Okay, so it was more of a reminder than a true realization, seeing as I have gone clubbing (only) once before, and I sucked then too.

Part of the problem is undoubtably my general social anxiety kicking in, which is ironic given that I’ll stand out just as much by not dancing at all. But that’s mostly fueled by the fact that** I have no idea what I’m doing.**

I’ve never danced before in any capacity, so I’m a complete loss as to what the general dancing style is, where the hill to put my four limbs, and how to interact with others on the dance floor. I also have trouble picking out the beat and thus don’t really know what pace to “dance” at.

Are there classes for this type of dancing? Or, in other words, is there another way I can get better at it without embarrassing myself by practicing at the clubs themselves :stuck_out_tongue:

Get really fucked up? You’ll have a much easier time “feeling it” if you are. Trust me. When I was younger I was sure that a “real man” didn’t dance. Then I discovered alcohol.

Oh, I got plowed, don’t get me wrong. And while my dancing certainly did improve (relatively speaking), it was still rather stilted, and I still had no idea what I was doing. I know I was dancing terribly because the promoter of the night’s event was trying to give me tips…yeah, I sucked =P

Most dance instruction studios do have nightclub dancing classes, if you think you’ll be going out often enough to justify the cost. Or if you think learning to dance would encourage you to get out to dance more often. (I’m a great solo dancer, but suck horribly when women try to dance with me, so I’ve been thinking of taking lessons.) It can also help to take any kind of dance lessons-- swing, waltz, ballroom-- to get the hang of moving to the tempo of a song.

I took swing lessons for a while, and while I’ve forgotten the actual moves, it trained me to step to the beat. Moving to the beat is something I’ve noticed a lot of folks suck at; they’ll step to the guitar, or shuffle to a DJ scratching records but they ignore the actual song tempo. The good news is, since so many people screw up that basic part, it doesn’t take much to either fit in or outshine the crowd. Upper body movements can be a lot more free… I notice a lot of people take drinks onto the dance floor so they can hold the cup or bottle rather than move their arms. Just don’t flail out and hit people, or look like you’re having a seizure, and people will probably not pay attention to your movements.

And Argent’s suggestion is how I made the leap from taking lessons in a studio to going out and dancing in front of people. Sitting there, drinking, wishing I could be on the floor and not sucking… and it finally dawned on me that no one out there actually cared, and most of them couldn’t dance, either, so it was stupid to be 5 feet away from where I wanted to be, yet not actually walk over there. Went out, shuffled to the beat (too scared to move my arms), didn’t get kicked out… if someone looked like a good dancer, I’d watch to see how they were moving, then try their move. Eventually, I just was comfortable doing my own thing, though that took a few trips to the club.

Don’t get trashed, though-- no one likes stumblers on the dance floor. Just enough to get a buzz and feel the beat; you want to remember the feeling of being locked into motion with the song, so you can recall that feeling on your future visits…

I usually scope out smeone I think is dancing well, then get far away from them and try to emulate them a little (not too much, just some).

Well, what kind of “dance club” is it? Do you mean something akin to a top-40 club, or something more like a salsa club or something like that?

If it’s the latter, ask a pretty lady to give a beginner some tips – earnestness and willingness to learn are god things! Of course if you’re with a female friend (or date) this is even easier.

If it’s a top-40 club or something like that, just have a good time, because (a) if someone remembers you after that night, it’s probably a good thing :wink: and (b) the only person fixating on how dumb you look is you.

Remember one thing if you’re struggling with awkwardness in a crowded place: it’s hard to underestimate how much the average person in the club cares about you (unless they find you attractive).

Props to this advice, too.

Look around you and see what other folks are doing. Many of them probably look a little silly while dancing, but they are having fun, and they are certainly not looking at you to see how silly you look. If they are, you are at the wrong dance club.

I started properly dancing when I started dancing with my eyes closed. That way I can forget that there are other people around, who might be looking at me, altho they never are. And even if the are, it doesn’t matter, because my eyes are closed.

Also, and this is important: find music you like to dance to. I can’t stand Top 40 or garage or industrial music, so when I went to such places (because that’s what my friends liked) I had a miserable time and concluded I couldn’t dance. But once I found music that was more to my taste, I danced at places that played it. Additionally, I could then hang out at Top 40 type places, and not dance, unselfconsciously, because I knew that the problem wasn’t with me but with the music.

I have a Brazilian friend that can dance extremely well (I think he has an extra joint in his hip, or so it appears) with a partner and to a certain type of music. But if he has no partner or if it’s a different kind of music, he is utterly clueless. So if you don’t know what to do with a particular piece of music, maybe you could pretend to be a classically trained salsa dancer who just doesn’t get Top 40.

That’s how I learned. I’m still not great, but I have a few moves down. I love to dance so that’s all that matters.

Although I’m way beyond club age, one thing I did notice when a buddy of mine and I went out drinking a few months ago. No matter what they club, or what type of music, there will be at some point in the night, some sort of line-like dance. Some variation of the electric slide. Almost without fail. While I can’t get to YouTube from work, I’d be shocked if there isn’t an instructional video someone made on how to do the electric slide. If you can keep a 4-count beat, you can do that dance. If you go to a country music club then you’re even more in luck as the current trend (at least around here) is to do some sort of fuckin’ line dance to every single song. Those clubs usually do have one or two nights a week where you can go earlier in the night and learn how to do some of the dances.

Salsa is a style that I’d be a little more leary at. There is a definit way to do it right…especially on the spins and turns. The beat is a lot harder to keep and if you do it wrong, you probably will have someone say something about it.

Most important? Have fun. Despite what Step it up or whatever it’s called want to make you believe, most people just sort of bop up and down to something resembling the beat.

Seriously dont dance then, first impressions are important and you dont want to look like a spaz doing the herky jerky.

Alcohol helps big time with the anxiety part, same with cigarettes in the club or designated area but I would take issue with the standing out part.

First your in a club , so you want to stand out. If your single in a bar/club then meeting the ladies is your mission , so you want to more blend in rather than stand out in a bad way. Secondly , next time your at the club , take a glance at the guys and rate how they are dancing. Bet ya most of them are doing the white man shuffle and a few might be actually cutting some major rug.

Unless its formal dance style like the tango or waltz, your going to find yourself swaying a lot and turning in circles, at this point I would not worry about the pace or the beat and just concentrate on developing a foundation move. Dont move faster or more erratic than the nearest dancers. so as to avoid bumping into them, and avoid mosh pit stuff.

It can take a while before you become comfortable enough in a club to actually not care about what way your dancing. Your main problem is a lack of confidence that should be worked on as well as your dance moves.

Been there done that :slight_smile:


I was a terrible dancer when I went to my first disco at 12, and I’m still a terrible dancer now. But I have discovered the secret. Dance only to songs you really like. I am quite happy sitting down with a drink just people-watching when it’s songs I don’t know, because if I try to get up to dance to them I will look like a puppet being jerked around by a very cruel master. But when it’s a song I know and love, I’m up there and I don’t give a shit how I look. I probably still look like a jerking puppet, but at least it’s an enthusiastic one (I think I probably look all right though, you can’t jump about ‘wrongly’ to Rage Against the Machine). Moral of the story - there is no need to dance unless you want to! And jeez, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a ‘dance club’… :stuck_out_tongue:

Nah, your partner will probably just smile, grin, bear it, and remember “Nice guy. Couldn’t find the beat with GPS.”

So, learn how to find the beat of the music. Any music. Anytime you’re listening to music, practice tapping along to the beat and not getting distracted by other things (or at least finding it again really quickly).

I know this is a joke, but I know too many non-white people who can’t dance worth a lick to ever believe there’s some rhthym gene lacking in white DNA. One of my friends is Mexican, and her ‘dancing’ looks sort of like ‘flopping around’. I’ve also met black people who are terribly embarrassed about their bad dancing, especially since there’s a whole big stereotype about what incredible dancers blacks are.

Anyway, my advice is just to keep moving, smiling, and always be nice to the ladies. Taking dance lessons would be wonderful. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to stay in shape.