Avoiding Awkward Situations You'd Better Hope No One Sees Those Moves Eliza Hurwitz

The most awkward I ever feel is when I’m at a bar or club or any venue where people are dancing. I feel obligated to dance if people I know are dancing but I think I can safely say I am the worst dancer in the world. I even took an African dance class last year for fun, to improve my skills. Although I loved the professor of this course, the filming of the dances after we learned them only provided blatant and clear support of my worst dancer in the world theory. Being the worst dancer, however, has allowed me to become creative in that it has forced me to come up with multiple ways to hide my worst dancer status. I know that even though I’m the absolute worst dancer, there are millions out there nearly as bad as I am, which is why I want to let you all in on some of my dancing secrets.

Tap It Out:

When the music is overwhelming and you have no idea how to move to the beat, a simple tap of the foot works wonders. With the tap, there is no need for arm movement, hip movement or facial expressions. The tap says it all. It says, “I’m focused and entranced by the music. I can understand and follow the beat. I’m a musical genius.” This dancing makes you look not only musically trained, but sophisticated and in control. Fellow dancers may think, “Wow, when music comes on, I can’t control myself. But, look at this person, only tapping his/her foot. Now, that’s what I call control.”

Be careful, however – using the tap every time dancing is involved may make you appear too serious. And, if your tap is always the same and not connected to any beat or tempo, it will be obvious that you don’t know anything about music and have no rhythm.

Joke Dance:

When you’ve overdone your share of the tap, a great alternative is a joke dance. People always appreciate a good joke dance such as the robot, some cool ’70s disco moves, or over the top hip gyration. A person I always look towards for joke dance inspiration is Tina Fey.  She has done multiple forms of joke dancing on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live and she makes it look so easy and good. This proves that joke dancing has to potential to turn into a real dance that people admire and aspire towards.

The most important aspect of a joke style dance is that you appear in good spirits. You should be smiling and enjoying yourself. If you have a look of discomfort or, worse, terror, no one will be impressed. Instead, they’ll be concerned. Although you may feel like your tears will be offset by your robot dance of happiness, this crying robot can assure you, it won’t.

Bar Mitzvah Party It:

Being Jewish, I pretty much got to attend bar/bat mitzvahs every weekend of my entire seventh grade year. Now, you may think, wasn’t seventh grade the peak of your awkwardness? And I’d have to say that actually, seventh grade was just one of the many peaks. But I’d also have to say that the best part of seventh grade was that everyone was awkward, providing me with a sense of awkward camaraderie. That being said, some of my best dancing was done at bar/bat mitzvah parties. I can attribute this to the dancers people often hired, that would lead everyone in dances and instruct them on proper dance moves. They provided me with just the right amount of guidance to feel not only comfortable but also confident enough to perform their dance moves, while adding my own flair. The Electric Slide, Cotton Eye Joe, Cha Cha Slide and other songs where a dance was spelled out step-by-step in the lyrics were also helpful in transforming my would-be-awkward moves into something somewhat more graceful and appropriate. Sometimes I wish there was a club, bar, or other venue that was like a bar/bat mitzvah party because, those parties were when I felt most free.

So, why can’t we bring a bar/bat mitzvah party sense of freedom to every dancing venue we go to? We can. Just watch a person who is dancing really well and copy his/her every move. Be sure to stay far enough away from them. That way the dancer you’re copying won’t see you and also no one will realize your style is a totally derivative. The Electric slide, Cotton Eye Joe, Cha Cha Slide can easily be brought to any club or bar by simply recommending these songs to a deejay.

Go All Out

Another option, of course, is to just be yourself because, when it comes to dancing, no one is judging you. Most people feel insecure when they dance, anyway. But as long as you don’t let yourself feel like an idiot, you won’t look like one, or if you do, you won’t care, because you’re having too much fun dancing to Cotton Eye Joe.

Feature image via Vanity Fair.

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  1. I’ll admit I’ve spent a few evenings watching dance tutorials on YouTube. It can only help!

  2. I’ve given up trying to look too cool for school on the dance floor. I’ve decided that if the music is good, it’s worth going all out. Who cares about looking unattractive? If you’re meant to be with a certain guy he’ll like you for what’s inside, not what’s on the outisde.

    • Haha I need to borrow some of that confidence of yours! I always feel like such a dork when I dance. The only time I ever let loose is if I shove my way to the center of the dance floor where people who are not dancing can’t see me, if I am on the outside of the crowd though forget it! I usually don’t care what people think of me, but dancing has got to be where my shyness realllly comes out.

  3. I will confess to having done the Pee-Wee in public.

  4. I love zumba and salsa, but I dance a bit like a tree! Proper stiff upper body! Also I play the drums, so if I’m in a club and I’m not sure what to do, I’ll stand there swaying a bit and tapping in time to the music, both hands at the same time slapping on each hip… like everyone’s going to go “OMG! She’s so cool, she knows where the pause / cymbals comes in!” I do actually want to get a dance DVD so i can prance round the house by myself though cos dancing is fun (when no-ones watching!) x

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