Was reading a post on “then came dance” which is another great ballroom blog that you should be reading. I’ll include the link below if you’d like to scoot over there and read it real quick. And why wouldn’t you want to do that??
Anyway, the post got me to thinking. Now, I’m not going to claim to be an expert in manliness but I am, in fact, a man, so that might give me some authority to speak about men and dancing. I found it interesting that her post spoke about men softening and being vulnerable and showing their tender and sensitive side as the reason dance is indeed manly. Those traits are typically not considered manly and are usually things men are conditioned to suppress. The fact that she (and presumably other ladies) value those qualities is just evidence of why books like Men are From Mars, Women are From Venous are so successful.
I mean the theme “Real Men Don’t …” has been around for a long time with a wide variety of activities and things used as the punchline. Of course, you women don’t make it easy for us because some of you prefer the Macho, he-man alpha while some go for the sensitive, metro-sexual type. (Generalizations, I know as the lines are blurred). Interestingly, I was at a studio dinner where, for some reason the conversation turned to men and whether the instructors preferred a macho man or a more sensitive, European type and the unanimous response was that they wanted a MAN. Of course, it is also interesting that they’ve stated that their significant other would never be interested in dancing.
Can’t really explain why dancing has been lumped in with other less manly activities like figure skating and gymnastics. It could be the costumes – if a guy ever has to watch a real competition, then the things men wear for Latin dancing clearly don’t look like something the Marlboro man would ever wear so it might be easy to assume that it is feminine. Of course, I would argue that it takes a man who is truly comfortable with himself to wear some of those outfits. And the hip movements and arm styling certainly doesn’t help as it just doesn’t look manly (even if it might be truly attractive to most women).
Have I caught grief for my dancing. Yes, certainly a little. My brothers have certainly chimed in on my new hobby as have other friends. Guys are forever questioning each others’ manhood and I would venture that most men have heard “grow a pair” or “man up” at some point in their lives if they are perceived as acting less than manly. It happens but I accept it as the good-natured type of joking guys do to each other. But I can tell you that the response from women has been universally positive. To paraphrase an old commercial “Chicks dig guys who can dance”. That’s really what we should tell men who are reluctant to start dancing.
But, I digress. Yes, I think the perception of dancing as not being masculine keeps some guys away. That is because they really have no idea how athletic it actually is. If they really met and talked with a pro, they could probably share work out tips and the pro would much likely be in far better shape because it takes a great deal of strength and I believe most of the pros are always doing some kind of work regime. I started in with some strength training because I knew I needed it to reach the next level. Dance isn’t easy and dancer are athletes. But it is hard to see that through the spray tans and latin heels.
I can’t tell you though how many women I’ve met who find out I’m a dancer and say “I’d love to do that, but my husband never would”. The perception of dancing as less than manly plays a part but, at a certain age, I think a lot of men have an innate fear of looking stupid and learning a new skill forces you to look stupid from time to time. I suspect it is that fear rather than the perception of dance as less than manly that keeps most guys away. Since men aren’t supposed to admit fear, it is easy to cover it by saying things like real men don’t dance.
Confession time – I have really grown to love the Tango. There is just something almost a little primal about that dance. The man leads in all dances but in Tango, you are typically more connected and the movements are sharper and if you do it right, it looks like you are tossing the lady about. It called “whackage” in my studio which sounds awful but you get a lady into promenade with a sharp twist of the upper body and whackage makes sense. The other smooth dances are floaty and sophisticate and the Tango is just raw and passionate. I love the gancho in that dance because you are making a strong move into her space to get her to do the little kick. Tango just allows you to play the macho caveman having your way with the lady on the dance floor. You think dancing isn’t manly, then just watch or do a Tango and you’d change your mind in a minute.
Yes, dancing is manly. It is a sport and dancers are athletes. The sad thing is that guys who simply dismiss it really have no idea what they are missing.