The One About Group Classes

Dear Dance Diva,

I’m a forty-something single man who started taking ballroom dance lessons about six months ago. I’ve always enjoyed music and dancing, but never had any formal training so I thought I would give it a try. I take one private lesson and had been attending several group classes a week until recently. Most of the folks in the group classes are very nice, but there is a lady who is rude and makes me uncomfortable so I stopped going.

In group classes, the instructors teach us patterns and the students rotate partners to practice. I know I am a beginner, but I’m a fit well-groomed gentleman and I honestly don’t think I’m a horrible dancer. My problem is this lady is very critical every time I dance with her. Recently while we were paired up, she asked the teacher, in front of the whole class, if we could please switch partners so she could dance with someone who knew what he was doing. Ironically, I was thinking the very same thing about her – she’s not a particularly good dancer either – but I would never say it. The instructor handled the situation well, but it was still pretty embarrassing. That was two weeks ago and I haven’t been back to a group class since.

To make matters worse, she dresses inappropriately. She wears very tight stretchy one piece cat-suit outfits, which do not fully cover her extremely voluptuous physique. Her bra literally sticks out on all sides and I’m not talking about just the straps. It makes me very  uncomfortable to dance with her. I honestly do not understand how someone could be so lacking in self-awareness.

I still take my weekly private lesson, but group classes are much more cost effective and they really help you learn faster. I also like the social aspect and I’d like to get back, but I do not want to dance with this person. I’ve decided to start again this week and I’d appreciate any advice you have for me on how to handle this situation.

—Gentleman Learning to Dance

Dear GLTD,

I am sorry your group class experience has been less than enjoyable. My guess is there are plenty of ladies in those group classes who love dancing with you. In the words of Donny Osmond, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch,” so  I’m glad you are planning to return to group classes. Still I completely understand any trepidation you may feel about dancing with this lady. If dancing with her makes you uncomfortable –  and rudeness aside, her inappropriate attire is certainly cause for this – don’t do it. When it is your turn to be paired with her simply say, “I respect that you do not enjoy dancing with me so why don’t we both practice solo for this rotation?” Then step away from her and practice your steps on your own. When the instructor announces it is time to rotate, thank her and move to the next lady.

Chances are you are not the only one feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable. She’s probably alienated other gentleman in class so your approach to mitigating any potential unpleasantness might serve as good example for others. Good luck and keep dancing!

Dance Diva

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