by Darius Johnson
There's an epidemic in the salsa world - snob dancers. There are lots of really good dancers out there that simply refuse to dance with people outside of their exclusive social circle. I understand that salsa is empowering, but how a person's ego can grow to the point where he or she feels like his or her salsa is too good for someone else. I'm baffled.
I remember some experiences in the Houston community when I was first coming onto the dance scene. I was friendly to everyone. Yet some people wouldn't say "hi" to me when I greeted them. When I was first learning to dance, about a third of the people I asked would turn me down or make some lame excuse and then dance the next song with someone else. I'm glad I didn't have self-esteem issues. Sometimes getting into the salsa scene can be intimidating. Having left Houston behind, I have two dancers in mind that I never got to dance with. I never asked them to dance, even after I got good, because they had turned their noses up at me in the past. Of course, as I got better, more people knew me and I can't remember the last time I was turned down for a dance. But it shouldn't be that way. In a perfect world, the beginners should be getting more dances than the established dancers. Obviously that's unreasonable to expect, but how else will the beginners get better? Don't we all want more people to dance with?
To be fair, I have to admit that I understand the snob's perspective on some level. Undeniably, women reject men for dances much more than vice-versa. Sometimes women feel that they need to do this for protection. Guys can get a little creepy in clubs. I'm aware of that issue and I've seen enough happen to sympathize with women who are weary of dancing with men they've never met. However, for the snob women who use the "creepy men" as an excuse to be snobs, give me a break . I propose the following: There's an obvious difference between someone who just wants to dance and someone who is using dance as an opportunity to get close to you. How can you tell? Well, the dancer will be enjoying the music. They may have danced with one or two other people before you (they're still shy) and they won't approach you with a ridiculous pickup line to invite you to the dance floor. As for the creepy guy, you should know not to accept a dance from someone who has been staring at you for the past two hours from dark corner in the club... unless you're into that sort of thing.
Snobby female dancers also reject guys because they don't feel that the guy can dance on their level. Women always want to look their best. They want to steal the show. They want to spin, dip, etc. They want every dance to be amazing. So they tend to flock towards male dancers that challenge them. This is natural and understandable. But what's one song here and there for the up and coming new dancers? It's not marriage. Just do it. In the end, you'll have more wonderful male dancers to make you look good.
The snob dancers don't only come in the female flavor. We men also have symptoms of "snob-itis" from time to time. There are some guys that really think they are God's gift to salsa (among other things), and they only dance with the best dancers. However, these guys tend to have complexes anyway. I don't understand them and I won't try to explain them. Just know that they're out there. They're rare. Most guys only appear to be snobs. They refrain from asking women to dance because they're terrified of being turned down. To make matters worse, they have to select the people they dance with very carefully. If they dance with the better female dancers and make them look good, maybe they won't get turned down as much.
So what's the solution? I don't think that this problem is completely fixable. It's human nature to behave this way. We can all do a little bit to make the situation easier for all parties involved. If you ask someone to dance, don't make them regret it. Dance one song and thank them. If you hold them against their will for three songs, they will probably avoid you for the rest of the night. Ladies, please don't turn a guy down just because he's not an expert dancer. You can help him to get better faster if you dance with him. And don't be afraid to ask a guy to dance with you. It's the 21st century! Gentlemen, be gentlemen. The fewer creepy guys the ladies have to deal with, the easier it will be for us to dance with them.