Do you ever hear a song and know exactly who you want to dance with, but someone else asks you?
What’s your reaction? Be honest. The immediate and initial reaction in my head is usually some variation of “dammit!” because I wanted something and I didn’t get it.
When I attend a regular social and I hear a song that I like, I usually ask whoever is in my vicinity. Sometimes I ask someone I know who can flow with that style of music and with me. Sometimes I ask a friend who I haven’t yet asked. And sometimes, I’ll ask someone completely new. Contrary to popular belief, I am usually the one asking and I’m very quick about it. As a result, I’m rarely available for someone to ask me.
When it’s an atypical night out, a special occasion, where there are a ton of people I haven’t seen in a while, with whom I also have a great dance connection, I find myself seeking them out for dances multiple times throughout the night. I feel like I’m making up for lost time and trying to get in a few more just in case I don’t see them for another long while.
This past Friday was one of those special occasions. It was the 8 Year Anniversary of the Candela Fridays Social, hosted by my friend DJ Alex Gonzalez. There there were so many faces I hadn’t seen in over a year, so naturally, my preferred dancer checklist was long.
On two occasions, Alex played a song I absolutely had to dance to. Based on the dancers I knew in attendance, I already had my top 3. With the first song, I asked two dancers but they had already said yes to someone else. Before I could ask anyone else, someone I didn’t know asked me to dance. I accepted the request.
On the second occasion, it was the last song of the night, and I must have asked at least 6 dancers who were all taken by the time I got to them. The frustration was real and it was occasionally expressed with an audible “arrgh.” I really wanted to dance that last song, but no one I wanted to dance with was available. As I was still scanning the room, someone I had never seen before, asked me to dance. I said “Sure!”
Both of these dancers were not my first picks, or even my third, yet they ended up being exactly what I wanted: fun, playful, musical connections.
And it was only possible because of the following 3 steps.
1 My commitment to my decision
Yes, I wanted to dance with someone else, many someone elses to be exact, but, when I said “yes,” I committed to that decision. I didn’t pout. I didn’t regret my decision. I wasn’t thinking of a way out. I wasn’t thinking of who I would dance with next.
I was 100% present with my partner.
2 Our commitment to each other.
My commitment to my partner was there as soon as I said yes, but my partners’ commitment to me wasn’t there initially, even though they asked me to dance.
My first partner was visibly and tangibly nervous. I could feel it in his connection, his lead and his general aura. I later learned that he knew of my long salsa career and my TED Talk. I am guessing the initial nerves might have been for those reasons. Perhaps he was wondering if I would enjoy the dance, if his lead was good enough, if his moves were engaging and interesting.
However, the more connected he was with those thoughts, the less connected he was with me.
As I continued my attempts to connect with him, to show him that I didn’t care about fancy moves, and that I was enjoying myself, and eventually he changed his focus to me and us. It was only then that the dance got really playful, musical and creative.
My second partner at the end of the night might not have been nervous but I could sense that he might have felt rejected, even though I said yes. Maybe it was because he saw me asking a ton of people around him, but not him. Perhaps it was the split second that my mind was still scanning the room before I said sure. It could have been the way I said sure or the way he interpreted my “sure.”
Either way, once we started dancing, his energy felt slightly defeated. The eye contact and confidence that existed when he asked me was no longer present. He looked at the ground and everywhere else but never at me.
It was the last song of the night, so I didn’t want to waste it by following his energy and disconnecting further. I made an extra effort to connect, play, smile, and make eye contact. Eventually, he shifted his focus from whatever was on his mind to enjoying the dance with me. We had a few really creative fails that we were both able to laugh at, and ultimately finished the dance with a genuine smile and a hug.
3 Redirecting my Focus
Before I said yes to these two dancers, my focus was on who I wanted to dance with and who I believed would give me the dance that I wanted. I went around the room asking, trying to find the who of my choice. When these dancers, who were not on my radar, asked and I said yes, the who I was going to dance with was resolved. To have the dance that I wanted, I had to then focus on what was actually important to me. Yes, I wanted a specific partner, but ultimately, what I really wanted was to have fun, be playful, creative, musical, and connected with my partner, the person I said yes to.
Having a fun and enjoyable dance is like a destination. We might have a preferred path, but there are many paths to the same destination. They might take longer. They might not be as smooth. But they can all lead to the same place, IF we commit to taking a step. Getting on the path only to stop and wonder if it’s worth the effort, is not going to get us anywhere.
- Do you say yes when maybe you should have said no?
- Once you say yes, how do you follow through?
- Do you know what you actually want?
- In the pursuit of what you want, are you blocking yourself from getting it by focusing too much on the who or the how?
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!