If you take a dance lesson, you may be bitten by the dance bug. I’m pretty sure that, for some of us, ballroom dance is an addiction. Or maybe a cult because that’s how one student likes to describe it. In the right studio with the right people, it is a welcoming place that can become like a second home. Add in the magic of learning and accomplishing things you didn’t think you could and you do have something that is hard to walk away from.
The down side to ballroom is that it can be a very expensive endeavor. And it is important to remember that a dance studio is a business. To stay in business they need to separate you from as much of your money as they can.
Now, I’m not attaching any value judgement to that statement. In a good studio, the instructors will see you as more than a source of funds. They will celebrate your successes right along with you. A good studio will understand your goals and work with you to achieve them. In the right environment, it is a win-win situation. And, to be clear, my current studio is that type of environment.
It doesn’t mean they aren’t going to push as much as possible and try to get you to attend more events or take more lessons. So here are just some random thoughts about how to approach the whole money thing.
Last night, I was talking with another student about upcoming events and she said she just does what they tell her to do. That’s not really the approach I would recommend unless you have unlimited funds. You don’t have to walk into a studio for the first lesson with a plan but you should always be thinking about what you want to get out of dance. Not everything they offer is going to be on your path.
Have a budget. These are in no particular order by the way. Once you understand the cost, then it is important to really think about how much you can really spend on this activity. Depending on your situation and disposable income, it can be a rough estimate or a detailed plan. It is true that you will learn faster by taking more lessons in a week but it also won’t help if you spend each lesson worried about how much money you are spending. To go along with that:
I could expand on this to really mean communication about goals and budget. We had one student in the studio who really wanted to do a big event but it was going to take time for her to save and it meant she wasn’t going to do other things like Showcase. A good studio like ours was fine with that and worked with her to help her meet that goal. They are going to push things at you. It is just the way it is. You are free to say no. If you can only afford a single lesson a week, then make that clear up front. If you really don’t want to do a solo routine, then say no. If you don’t want to learn a specific dance because it doesn’t fit with your plan and goals, then say no. This is part of owning your journey and you really aren’t going to hurt their feelings.
The only caveat I’ll add here is that this is also a balance between being open to trying new experiences. If you aren’t entirely sure yet of your path, then it can be worth trying some of the events just to see how it feels. (That assumes it fits within your budget)
Always ask how much something is going to cost. I don’t know if this is universally true, but a lot of times, the studio will have sign up sheets for the events and make a big deal about going and then the cost is in the fine print. You find out when they tally it all up at the front desk and ask for your credit card. To be fair, that isn’t true with the bigger events that have the higher costs because they do a good job spelling those out. But I remember talking with a couple that signed up for Showcase and then got hit with a much bigger bill than they expected. It is easy to get swept up in the excitement of an event but, unless you have unlimited funds, you might want to get a rough idea of cost before you sign up for 50 heats.
It would be nice if we could experience the magic of ballroom without worrying about money but we don’t live in fantasy world. If you love it, ballroom is worth every penny. As long as you understand that it can be pricey and be realistic about what you can afford and what you want to get out of it. The saddest thing is people who go all in and then realize in a short period of time that they can’t afford it and drop out completely.
A good studio will work with your limits and still help you live the dream.
Also, part of owning your journey is not comparing yourself to others. There are going to be those with significantly more disposable income who can do all the things. It doesn’t make you any less of a dancer if you can’t. (And if the studio makes you feel lesser, then you are in the wrong place)