In my experience, most of the really, truly terrible dating advice I’ve gotten has been from one particular group…
…older female family members. It just seems like, especially early on in my dating life, my Mom or my Aunt would give the worst dating advice possible.
Case in point: my Mom said,”If you want to meet a nice girl, go to ballroom dance classes.” Not a good idea. Not a good idea for dating at least. For stories of wingnuts, odd social expectations and irascible dance teachers however, it was a great idea.
The dance begins…
The ballroom dance class at Moorpark College was taught by a vaguely hostile, slightly unbalanced dance teacher. She had been divorced many years ago and the scars of that seemed to color every interaction she had in the class and life in general.
She was also a little inept at managing her “classroom.” I was about 20 at the time of taking the class. Add or subtract a few years and you have the age ranges of most folks there. In other words, lots of energy and short attention spans made for talking while the dance teacher was giving her instructions. Different instructors have different methods for getting their class in-line. Hers was to simply yell really loud and in a really shrieky tone. She seemed to really take every conversion personally like it was a dagger to her heart.
Then there was her choice of music. Of course, there was some good stuff (Cab Calloway, Pennsylvania-Five-Six-Thousand) but the songs that I remember were “classics” like Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana,” a truly retched song that was played over and over and over and over again. And it gets worse. If we were dancing and we messed up a step, the teacher would stop “Copacabana” and have us start over. I estimate that over the course of the class I heard that damn song at least 150 times. Ugh.
And then there were the people in the dance class. The bold truth of ballroom dance is that men and women want dramatically different things from the class. Or at least they did in my class.
The men in the class want to meet women. (In fact, most activities that men do outside of work, showering, shaving and using the restroom are designed to meet women.) The women in the class wanted to dance. And that was it.
When you have such a dramatic difference in goals, misunderstandings are bound to happen. Inexperienced guys (like myself at the time) would see any basic friendliness on the part of girls in the class as a sign of interest and usually embarrass themselves by asking the girl out. That or they would talk themselves out of actually asking the girl for a date. But another issue was that the girl of every guys’ dreams was…
…one girl. The same girl in fact. In a scenario like the one below, a girl who was attractive in the non-ballroom-dance class world, was elevated to supermodel levels in ballroom dance class. And this girl, Abby, didn’t realize that she was the object of affection/lust for most of the guys in the class.
In fact, she really wasn’t present to many things. She was a bit of wingnut actually. A cult recuiter spotted Abby dancing by herself around the Moorpark College lawns and said to himself, “I’ve got a convert.” The next day she came into class, trying to convince every guy who found her lustworthy that this cult was the best thing since sliced bread.
Of course the imbalance of male attention didn’t sit well with the other girls in the class. There was a subtle hatred of Abby and a lack of understanding as why every girl but Abby was chop liver. It was palpable too. Men would lust after Abby when dancing with the other girls. They would not really pay attention to what their dance partner was saying, just stare creepily at Abby as she danced with someone else. Looking back, it was completely justifiable that the other girls were upset.
So what was the ballroom dance class in a nutshell? An upsettable dance teacher. Mixed intentions. Imbalance in affection. It was a mess. And so was the swing dancing scene that I used to be a part of after that.
You see, I really thought my Mom was giving me good advice so I kept pushing forward in this world. After two years driving to hell and gone for swing dancing events, I had gotten one girls’ phone number, gone on maybe one date and thoroughly frustrated myself.
Although I CAN dance, I really don’t like to all that much. And that’s mostly due to the nightmare of ballroom dance class.