SINGLE LIVING: Challenge Dance

Maxing out your joy and minimizing the impact of upsets are learned skills. My blog is based on the belief we can learn from the experts, our own experience, and each other. Circumstances may differ, but they often reflect common basic truths. Happiness is a Habit…we can learn how, practice, and have fun! Post your questions and comments, and I’ll try to show you how you be happy if…

SINGLE LIVING: Challenge Dance

A dateless Saturday Night…but I decide to have a good time ballroom dancing.  First – the equipment – Dance shoes, panty hose, black  push up bra,  black jersey dress with gold trim that hugs my curves and dips into a plunging neckline – uh-oh! better throw in a modest scarf  – I am a professor (I can always take it  off  later).  Good to go!

I get to the dance studio at 7:45pm, pay $15, and check out the hustle class. The lesson started at 7:30, which puts me at the bottom of class hustling to catch up as we change partners.  I move down the line and get to the teacher- a  buff guy (who, according to my gaydar, swings for the other dance team).  As I scurry to master the pattern, he advises me to be “more feminine”  I know what he means. My feet, perfectly planted for shooting basketballs, need be more geisha-close.  He also tells us to practice our “diva walk – divas – not donkeys!”  I try.

OK. Lesson over. I remove my scarf.  Time for fun! Only…no one is asking me to dance.  However, I am resourceful- if they don’t ask, I will.  I scope out possibilities – that slim, handsome, guy, I’m sitting next to – who is ignoring me? Naaah.  That less cute, but friendlier looking guy across the room, who I may have danced with six months ago? (In the dance world, that constitutes a relationship of some depth.)  Much better bet!  I walk across the floor and ask.  He agrees. We jitterbug. Things are looking up.

Dance over, I look around for other possibilities.  Ah! a foxtrot plus a man standing alone on the dance floor! I ask, “Would you like to  try this dance?” He says, “No!”  Whoah! Rudeness rules! As I walk away he adds, “because I’m dancing with her.”  Her? Who?

I decide to console myself with food. Ah…a fruit plate! I pick up a sliced banana. It breaks in two, falls into my plunging neckline, and comes to rest on my push up bra. I pick it out and eat it. (I need the potassium. Besides, it’s not as if anyone is looking at me).

I find my seat, pull out my Blackberry. and start Emailing my girlfriend in Florida. Good! she answers.  As I settle in for a ballroom evening in cyberspace, a woman (Supatra) asks me to dance.  I admire her spunky solution to the man shortage and accept.  She turns out to be graceful, sweet, and informative.

Her daughter is a dance teacher – a pretty twenty-something dancing with a man in his sixties – so she knows all about this particular ballroom scene.  This is a guest night party at a dance studio where many people take extended (and expensive) dance lessons.

Many of the dancers are “on the clock”- paid teachers dancing with their students or students paying for teachers to dance with them. Even the people who are not “on the clock” want to dance with others who know how to do set steps, poses, and routines. I don’t.

I digest this information, dance a few times with Supatra and return to my seat – and emailing my Florida friend – who is in her sweats and on her computer.

I decide to take a  snack break  and head for the peanuts. I take one and sit down.  Immediately, a man announces, “That’s my seat!” I look up – it’s the sixtyish dance student. I jump up and start walking away.  He adds, “That’s okay. I want to dance, you can sit.” By then I am pissed off, so I say, “No. That’s the kind of dance this is, and that’s the kind of men that are here!”  Then I pull on my coat, and start walking out. Before I leave, I stop at the receptionist.  I tell her that it’s not the fault of the studio, but the men are very rude…it might be a good idea to make an announcement about manners.  Then I leave.

I still need to do something – figure out How to Be Happy If… so here goes:

Happiness Habits

  • Be flexible and persistent – if people are crazy – try bananas! If people are nuts, try peanuts! If ballrooms are a bust – blog!
  • Vent by writing – posting to this blog made me feel a lot better! You can too!
  • Focus on the positive – the bond of friendship – in life and cyberspace
  • Get accurate information – I felt better when I realized what was going on with those “couples”
  • Put things in perspective – looked at from a distance, like “as high as an elephant’s eye”* – this dance is peanuts!

*  (from “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”, by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers)

SINGLE LIVING: Challenge Dance (Continued)

Had a few more thoughts about my “Challenge Dance”.  Yes – the men at that dance studio were rude.

I handled the situation by connecting with nice people – Happiness Buddies!  I emailed my friend and danced with the lady who asked me (instead of waiting for a guy).  She supplied useful information about dance teachers who were “on the clock.”  I also made up my mind to be happy – posting to this blog helps!

I’ll also stick to other dance venues, where I am part of a dance crowd and have partners and friends – and where there is less emphasis on formal styles and more emphasis on having fun.  There are also more available men – and that helps.

I’ll also explore different kinds of dancing – like contra dancing, where you dance in long lines, and change partners during the dance – giving you a chance to meet (and flirt with) a lot of people. Contra dancing comes out of a more communal, gender-equality culture.

A communal culture puts more emphasis on sharing and less on ownership. I suspect that the dance student who ejected me from my seat had paid for his dance teacher’s time and reserved the seat (though there was no sign) – so he felt he was defending his territory.

At a contra dance, anyone can ask anyone to dance; and we are encouraged to smile at each other, be generally friendly, and encourage the weaker dancers. Of course, this is an idealized view of  the contra crowd- but this dance style  does tend to attract more people with those values.

Ballroom dancing can be exciting and fun, but before I plunk down my money and commit my time for a dance weekend, week, or cruise, I (and you) might want to ask few questions, like…

What is the ratio of available men to women?  Available means that they will dance with available people  – not couples who will only dance with each other.

Are  there dance hosts? (Usually there is an over-abundance of women, and dance hosts  fill in the gap)

Are the dance hosts trained?  Ed (who responded to my previous column) is a gentleman. Not everyone is. A trained dance host knows he should return a lady to her seat, make sure she feels good about the dance and herself, and dance with everyone.

Are there lessons before the social dances?  That’s how you improve – and find dance partners.

If I’m  thinking about going away for a weekend, week or longer, I consider the likely outcome.  Far away means exotic adventure. Closer to home makes it easier to build friendships and sustain romance.

Happiness Habits

  • Choose a supportive venue. It’s not just the activity – it’s the values of the crowd.
  • Be realistic and see things in context.  To me, those men were rude. To them, they were doing what comes naturally. If you’re paying someone to dance – or being paid – why would you worry about someone who isn’t part of that equation? … unless…management makes it a point to be generally courteous.  That’s why I spoke to management.
  • Be friendly and courteous…copy good behavior – not bad.
  • Become a better activity partner.  If doing an activity (like dancing)  is the coin of the realm – polish your penny!

“No matter what the music, learn how to dance”

Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue
Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue) is a Motivational Speaker, Media Host, Singer-Songwriter “CD: Dr. Sue “Keys of Love” , Author of “Queens of Comedy” (Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres etc.) “Read with Me” (Children’s Book of the Month Club), “I Am Loved” (Inspirational Poetry) Blog: HOW TO BE HAPPY IF (

copyright 2010 Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue)


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on March 8, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    What a hilarious entry!

    The banana down your blouse… the rude patrons… the whole nine yards!

    Kinda’ reminds me of an old Steve Martin gag on Saturday Night Live (when it was worth watching), where in he is seated on a mass transit train of some sort, atop a newspaper.

    A fellow walks up to him, and asks, “Pardon me, but are you reading that paper?”

    Whereupon Martin arises from his seat, turns the page, sits back down, and announces, “Why yes, I am.”


  2. So glad you found it funny! It was all too true!
    I like your Steve Martin reference.
    Hope to stay in touch!

    Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue


  3. dr. sue: Great story, and thanks for having the courage to go out into the “world”, and then tell all……

    “Where there’s a monster, there’s a miracle.” I can speak so clearly to this right now in my life. Even though, the miracle about the monster I am deconstructing in my life is a self made miracle, the transformation does feel rather miraculous!!!!!

    Keep on writing!!!!


    • Thanks Vanessa, for your ongoing support.
      It did take a little courage to post this story…but I thought – hey – it could be funny, and it could help people – two good reasons!

      Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue


  4. Posted by V. in Florida on March 9, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I just heard a quote today that made me think of that stupid rude guy:

    “Where there’s a monster, there’s a miracle” …Ogden Nash made the evening pleasant and that was certainly a miracle under the circumstances!…lol…


  5. Posted by Ed on March 10, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Thank you so much ,Surely my contacts will benefit from this as will I.
    As a host my goal in dancing with a lady is ,when the dance is over and I RETURN her to her seat we BOTH feel better about ourselves

    I hope ladies look past the 60 year old men who are looking for a 30 something dance partner.
    We know social dancing is not a contest. Most men , who are critical of the ladies they dance with, do not have a good lead.

    til we meet again


  6. Hi Ed,

    Your response to the situation is (as I would expect from you) gracious, intelligent, direct and to the point!

    We met when you were a dance host – and I was lecturing – on Cunard Cruise Line.
    We had fun on the dance floor – plus great conversations!

    You are a credit to Cunard – and to yourself!
    Thanks for being my friend.
    Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue


  7. Posted by Rachel on March 16, 2010 at 8:41 am

    “Fun reading!”


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