Boy oh boy! I’ve been asked this question so many times that I lost count eons ago. It usually starts when a random student walks into MMA and is very excited to start dancing. After the first or second class I love to chat them up and see how they feel. Inevitably during the conversation, the ‘question’ comes up.
I usually reply with a lengthy explanation about the merit of taking your time and really learning. It’s extremely helpful to have an intellectual understand versus just being able to parrot what a teacher does. We’ve caught many an eager student looking to fly through the curriculum without really absorbing the information. We’ll then watch these same students not move their feet while they are dancing or not have a sound understanding of general partnering fundamentals. Our job as educators is to get you ready and no one wins if you fly through your experience like this.
If you are new and ready to start your dancing journey, I would highly recommend taking a moment and thinking about learning a new language. In reality, as social dancers, this is what we are doing. So imagine learning something like French and then only trying for an hour a week. Furthermore, due to shyness or a lack of free time, you don’t practice speaking with other people who can help you improve. During your next session, you come up to your instructor and ask when they think you’ll be fluent! Can you see the inherent problem with approaching dance or any activity in this manner?
So then, how long would it take you to learn to speak French?
Truth is, it takes time to get good at social dancing but the rewards are beyond measure. This style of dance is universal and you can find a slammin’ Salsa/Latin nightclub in almost any part of the world at this point. Take that in for a moment. You can literally go to Japan, India, Italy, Spain, Puerto Rico and Australia and not be able to speak the native tongue and still be able to ‘communicate’ through your dancing. If there is something more useful and beautiful than that, I’m all ears!
Learning to move with someone is an art and doing well requires dedication and attention to detail. I have an awesome student named Miguel who inspires me every time I see him walk in as he has progressed so much in the past 6 months that I can barely believe it. The thing is, I know he’s not in any rush, he’s just having so much fun that he’s enjoying the ride and getting good is the by-product.
The real question isn’t how long is it going to take to get good. The better and more inspired question should be, how awesome will it be when I get good at this stuff?
It’ll be great my friend, it’ll be great.
To your dancing…
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