How to Dance: Practical Advice from an Awkward-turned-Natural (001)

donna summerThe best thing about going to college in Los Angeles (despite my bitter antagonism) is being unwittingly seduced by the city’s amazing dance music scene. I didn’t even think I liked dance music of the electronic persuasion. All I listened to was scrappy lo-fi fuzzy distorted stuff. 80s new wave and Britpop were dancy, for sure, so it wasn’t a complete stretch. And in fact, (ex-)punks make the best, hardest-hitting dance music. I didn’t dance much while I was in LA though. I didn’t know how. Nobody taught me. Practicing clandestinely to YouTube videos seemed way too desperate an act for my pride to suffer. I watched cool people move n groove at music shows, easily mesmerized by their confidence and smooth maneuvering, yet I’d leave at the end of the night without a single clue as to how they achieved it.

I don’t know what happened to me. I can’t take any credit for “becoming a better dancer.” But I do feel like a “natural” now. Dancing is instinctive, is effortless, is so fun, and it sustains life.

✧・゚: *✧・゚:*    *:・゚✧*:・゚✧

I haven’t met very many people in Madison WI who like to go dancing. Madisonians seem particularly inept and uncomfortable dancers — “shufflers” or “gentle head-bobbers” are more apt descriptors. I’ve been that awkward kid too, so I can understand. Self-consciousness though, is a thing that can be shaken off. And it can be easily shaken off, when it’s done in the service of something more worthy. You just have to convince yourself of it. I can’t help you there – you gotta help yourself.

A less easy thing to shake off though, is one’s sheer inability to dance. Like, what if you just don’t know how??? It seems many people who are reluctant to dance are in that boat, as I once was too, so I figure this might be something I can help people with.

The following advice was synthesized after-the-fact (after becoming a “natural”), so it’s not been tried ’n’ true’d. That is to say, I did not follow this advice to become a “natural.” I somehow became a “natural” first, then tried to look at how it is that I’m dancing now (naturally), compared to how I danced before (awkwardly) .

Practice to your favorite tracks. If you don’t have any, I recommend the classic Donna Summer X Giorgio Moroder \\ON THE RADIO: GREATEST HITS VOLUMES I&II (1979)// or the lesser-known Malmö-based-label MB Disco’s compilation \\SWEDISH DISCO SOCIETY (2011)// to get your groove on. Groove slow and groove fast — experiment! Try practicing on hardwood floors in wool socks 🙂 ~~slip n slide around~~

be safe, kids – – –



Novice Level (upper body)

+ Locate one part of your body that is your << center of gravity >>. I once read that for women, center of gravity is in the hips; for men, it’s the shoulders. Obviously, there are not just two types of bodies (women’s/men’s). This will depend on your particular frame /bone structure. For me this spot is my core, or stomach area. (A few years ago, it was my shoulders, so I must be becoming more “womanly” as proven by the downshifting of my center of gravity…)

+ Once you locate your center of gravity, consciously make this your << fulcrum >>.

+ Ground yourself around this fulcrum — i.e., keep this part of your body a constant: stable, solid, dependable. (You can and even should move it, maybe back and forth, but it should “possess” and “know” the space it’s occupying.)

+ Now, here’s the fun part… … ready?… … …<< throw >> the other parts of your body around this fulcrum to the beat of the music!!!! Start with whole arms. Then try shifting forearms. Then try moving whole hands or palms. Always make a conscious decision to keep the hands/forearms/arms either stiff or loosy-goosy & fluid. Alternate to achieve ultimate variety :).

+ If you can toss your head and arms around like a #madwoman and STILL keep your fulcrum solid, you’re gonna look real good.

Satisfactory Level (lower body)

Now that you have some idea what the heck to do with your body, let’s take a look at your legs and feet!

+ While your legs compose two more body parts you can << throw >> around the fulcrum, they can also be used to change your << position >> in the particular room/space, in relation to other objects & bodies in that space. That is: use your legs to shift where you are located in space.

+ Always start with just 1 step. Take 1 step out with one leg, then bring the rest of your body to that new position as indicated by that leading leg. (Voilà! You’ve shifted your position in space!) Now using the other leg, take 1 step back to the previous position you were at, then follow with your entire body, bringing yourself back to the location where you started. Voilà! Repeat! Now you’ve got a rhythm going on yeah.

+ Feet are for advanced footwork — though simple footwork is cool too. I don’t think I’ve mastered anything “advanced” yet, because I don’t really believe in learning a set dance or footwork routine. So just try pointing your feet in different directions, with different timing — you’re bound to hit on something good eventually. Once you hit on something, make a mental note of that combination/sequence in your ‘dance move recipes,’ and make use of it again and again! Mmm delicious

Expert Level (whole body ♥♥)

+ the secret to dance nirvana? the potion to dancing like a natural?: :: STOP giving a sht about what anyone else is thinking, whether anyone’s looking at you or judging you. Because guess what? NO ONE IS LOOKING AT YOU. DON’T FLATTER YOURSELF. YOU’RE NOT THAT PRETTY. So just go do your thing. Whatever comes natural to you. Do that weird wacky dance whatever makes you feel good. Whatever feels most good to you, will look the most groovy and natural to everyone around you, and make them smile and wanna dance too. I guarantee it.

。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆   。・:*:・゚★,。・:*:・゚☆

Write in and let me know if this does or doesn’t work for you!

May be continued … with more advanced tips & tricks(?)



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