9 Ways to Satisfy a Woman On the Dance Floor—Even if Your Dancing Sucks

jamesjosephThe Game29 Comments

You step onto the floor. You don’t know how to dance. What will you do?

This situation may seem hopeless but it’s not. If you’re on the average social dance floor—an unsophisticated floor, like a wedding reception—very few people know how to dance. She probably can’t dance. Her last partner was probably rough and off the beat. At this point she’s praying that you’re just a decent guy and don’t try to rip her arm off.

Lets look at how to survive this dance and, especially, how to achieve the golden rule of ballroom dancing: take care of your partner (I just made up that golden rule stuff). This will make her happy—and satisfied.

I know, you thought the headline meant sexual satisfaction. Hang tight because the things below can be used in all partner dancing situations (probably club dancing too), which includes demonstrating value to an HB.

But be prepared to dance with a variety of women, some by choice, some not. For example, consider targeting non-HBs because, to get better, you need to practice with many different partners, particularly women who are better than you. And then there are the obligatory dances with Aunt Betty at the family wedding or the boss’s wife at the Christmas party.

Before I go any further, I’ve assumed you can’t dance so let me introduce you to the default, non-dance: try to do, however crude, a rock or a sway. If you can hear the beat, make a weight change on every other beat of music as you rock back and forth: left foot, right foot, left foot and so on. If you both can’t hear the beat, no problem.

One more thing. If you want to neg her, I suggest you do it off the dance floor. Partner dancing is a vulnerable situation for her (you’re the designated leader and her roll, as the follower, is to react). Partner dancing will be awkward for both of you. Don’t risk complicating it.

And away we go:

1) Fake confidence. The only time you really look bad on the dance floor is when you look uptight. So don’t be bothered by your lack of ability. Since faking it requires some skill, don’t try to fake a dance, fake your confidence. The lack of dance training is excusable, but the lack of confidence is not. I’ve seen good dancers look bad because they lacked chemistry with their partners or they danced beyond their ability or they were frustrated over not being better dancers. And I’ve seen non-dancers look okay because they didn’t care how they looked. So hide the fear and settle the nerves (check out number 2 below). And don’t cop attitude about your dislike of dance—your willingness to go on the floor and take a risk, even if you can’t dance, projects confidence.

2) Pretend you’re having fun. Don’t be a square. Be a good sport. How you act on the dance floor is who you are. If you engage easily on the dance floor, you probably engage easily in life. You don’t have to have fun but don’t let her know that. The easiest thing to do is smile as you rock back and forth. At least give a facial expression that suggests you’re having a good time. Nobody wants to dance with a sourpuss.

3) Pretend you’re a knight in King Arthur’s Court. There’s a lot of tradition and formality around dancing. While this varies from dance to dance and from venue to venue, it’s best to start by being courteous and polite, like you were attending a dinner at the White House. For example, when you ask for a dance, look her in the eye and extend your hand; when the dance is over, thank her and walk her back to her seat. (I don’t always do this, but I have the mindset to deploy it in a pinch, e.g., if I were dancing with the bride’s mother.)

4) Pretend she’s fragile. If you’re just doing a gentle rocking back and forth, you’re probably safe, so this tip is if you try to do more. Too often people think they know how to dance or they want to goof around or, worse, show off. This leads to jerky movements, yanking on arms and dragging your follower around the floor. Injuries are common but they’re usually minor so you’ll never hear about it—except the next time you approach her to dance she’ll avoid eye contact, turn and hightail it away. Underarm turns are a problem so be careful you’re not aggressively cranking your hand above her head to turn her. Dips are another problem, not only because they’re done wrong, but followers may resist to protect their necks and backs (the last guy was rough so she’s not taking chances with you). In general, no quick movements. Less is more. Pretend you’re dancing in a china shop.

5) Make good eye contact. Eye contact is easy to overlook. Often you get all caught up in yourself—like trying to remember dance steps or looking at your feet (bad habit) or looking at other dancers (rude)—and you forget about her. Sure, you’ll give her some glances but that may not be enough. So go out of your way to give her warm and frequent eye contact. Try to hold it.

6) Build chemistry. If you can’t dance, you can’t create a dance connection. That’s okay, for now. But there are still ways to connect and build chemistry. Try some of these:

* Mirror her (a basic body language technique). Things to match or mirror: attitude, energy, facial expression, footwork and body styling.

* Show her a sense of play. Respond to something she does (“call and response,” found in music, is also used in dance). Respond to something in the music. Throw her a surprise. Maybe ham it up a little—see my blog post, “Ballroom dance like Steve Martin.”

* Create an emotional connection by taking the advice of the late Frankie Manning, the grandfather of swing dancing: pretend you’re in love with her for three minutes. For many women, there’s a fairy tale quality to dance, an escape from reality. This feeds that fantasy.

* Try to make a “rhythmic” connection. By that I mean getting you and your partner on the beat—in sync with the music and each other—even as you rock back and forth. Funny thing, there are plenty of guys who have lots of moves and think they can dance yet they’re off the beat. Dancing off time looks bad and feels bad to your partner. It will frustrate and annoy her. Ladies appreciate guys who are “rhythmic” so learn to hear the beat before you try to pull any fancy moves. If you can’t hear the beat be sensitive to her back-leading you to get you on the beat.

* Dance is physical. A deeper physical connection through body contact is, well, why we’re all here, right? There are some risks (I’ll do a future article on slow dancing and body contact) but if it seems appropriate, move in slowly and be prepared to abort.

* Conversation is a no-brainer. It’s so important it’s covered in number 7 below.

* If you’re going to try to do more than just rock back and forth, think about this: dance is a partnership, not a competition. Work with her. Even if you can dance don’t try to out-dance her just to showoff. There’s a teaching metaphor in dance: she’s the picture, you’re the frame. Let her shine.

* The way to ruin a connection is to criticize or correct her dancing. Also, try to avoid giving her instructions; for example, don’t say, “drop your head on the dip.”

* Be conscious of her face for fear, confusion or disgust, which will tell you something is wrong and you need to switch gears.

7) Engage in conversation. If you can charm her with some easy talk on the floor, you can work this into something where you barely dance at all and still save face. The caveat is that it’s bad etiquette to talk on the dance floor. But if you’re not getting in anyone’s way (try moving towards the center of the floor where people tend to dance in one spot) and if you continue your feeble attempt to dance as you talk, it’s probably okay. (I repeat: never stop dancing on the dance floor just to talk.) Here’s how it works: it’s hard to dance and talk at the same time. Talking requires even someone who can dance to dumb down their dance moves. So if you focus on light conversation as you rock back and forth, you now have an excuse for your awkwardness and lack of rhythm. Move slowly and keep your movements small and tight. If you’re sarging this is an opportunity to flirt.

8) Compliment her dancing. She probably can’t dance so she may not be worthy of a genuine compliment. So, like a lot of compliments in real life, it’ll be a throwaway line to endear her. But even if she can’t dance, you can be sincere with stuff like this: “you’re a lot of fun on the dance floor”; “you have great rhythm” (“rhythm” is ambiguous and positive); “you’re very musical” or “you have great musicality” (“musicality” is very ambiguous and also a positive); “you move nicely.” And it’s good to finish with a compliment and the line, “save me another dance.”

9) Loosen up. If you can adjust your attitude and relax a little, everything will go smoother. It’ll be hard to relax on the dance floor. But would you rather be a stiff guy who can’t dance or a relaxed guy who can’t dance? It’s natural to feel in the spotlight but, really, no one is watching (people watch the better dancers). Your partner is probably focused on herself and how she looks, not on you. A few things that’ll help:

* Like any activity, the more you do it the more comfortable it becomes. Break the ice and just dance.

* Try to hide on the floor so you’ll feel less self-conscious. If you move to the middle or the back or to a crowded section, you can shield yourself from people on the sidelines.

* Remember to pretend you’re having fun (number 2 above). Body language studies show that even if you do an activity with a forced smile, you’ll enjoy it more.

* Keep it flowing. Avoid stopping and restarting. Keep moving but remember, no pushing or pulling.

* Laugh easily.

* Don’t apologize excessively for your lack of ability or for mistakes. Dance is art, everything is allowable.

* Laugh at mistakes. Don’t take yourself seriously.

* Keep expectations low for your performance, for her performance and for the dance.

* A song lasts only a few minutes. Repeat this mantra: This too shall pass.

While the ability to dance is important, that alone will not guarantee her satisfaction. Even good dancers sometimes don’t deliver: they can be rude, rough, egotistical, insensitive and not fun. Even two good dancers can have an awkward dance as they learn to adjust. So even a trained dancer needs to do more than a bunch of cool moves if he wants to satisfy a woman on the dance floor.

Dancing is hard so a little bit of stumbling around is common. Awkwardness is average. But a dance floor is a test tube of social interaction with a lot more going on. If you can’t bedazzle her with your dancing, embellish your rocking back and forth with the things you can control. Give her attention, entertain her, take care of her and reveal yourself to be a man of character. She will speak positively about you to her friends (social proofing). And she will want to dance with you again.

Is there behavior or lines (spoken words) you use on the dance floor that the ladies like?

[Downloadfree Kindle version of my ballroom dance book this Tuesday to Thursday, Sept. 11 to 13.]

29 Comments on “9 Ways to Satisfy a Woman On the Dance Floor—Even if Your Dancing Sucks”

  1. Elegant yet simple.
    Dancing salsa for about 3 years, I still make mistakes but have the most fun having no expecatations.

    WSithout thinking,a spontaneous new move just happens on the dance floor, sometimes goofy, I just laugh and keep on going. Dancing is supposed to be a release of stress!

    1. Jubilant19, that’s a great place to be: dancing spontaneously and making up moves (plus hamming it up and keeping a light attitude).

      There’s an old saying in dance: “There are no mistakes, only syncopations.” It means that if you stumble or something, just turn the extra steps (the syncopation) into a new move.

      Instead of fretting over a mistake, own it.

  2. Great post, especially for a non-dancer like myself. And true for much more than ballroom dancing. Nice post, and good luck with the Kindle Select program!

    1. Neil, thanks for the kind words and generous plug.

      They say that the dance floor is a metaphor for life. I usually know a lot more about a woman (and where I stand) after a 3-minute dance versus 3 minutes of conversation.

  3. Also, try to avoid the ‘white guy over-bite’. Nothing says “This is awkward.” like a guy chomping his bottom lip off with his chipmunk teeth.

  4. Learning how to dance was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I was way out of my comfort zone coz i dance like i’ve got somebody else s 2 left feet on back to front. The reality is women love to dance & for me to go to dance classes took me out of my comfort zone so after that everything that I was slightly apprehensive about was a breeze. In every dance class i attended the guys were outnumbered 7 to 1. The girls were so happy to have guys to dance with, they weren’t bothered by my initial clumsiness & were more than happy to help me out. Apart from learning how to dance in a ‘safe’ environment I got to interact regularly with females & run a couple of routines, gauge reactions & improve my routines before I even hit the clubs. It was by far the best thing I ever did & continue to do. Don’t take my word for it, try it your self.

    1. Pilgram Jim, thanks for reiterating the safety of a beginners’ class. In a beginners’ class you don’t have to know how to dance so the women expect nothing. The other dancers will be friendly–they’re probably as nervous as you about being in that class. And there’s usually time to chat. It’s best when the instructor plays a few practice songs at the end of class so you can both work on your social dancing and work your game.

  5. learning to dance Salsa New York style has been a blessing for me. Not only do you get to meet a lot of great quality people who are passionate about something but dancing in it self is very sexy and anything that makes a man have to step up and lead with confidence is worth serious consideration unless you want to be the “What do you want to do guy” I started dancing seven months ago and I have made contact with people from all over the world so come January When I go to paris I will have awesome contacts for some salsa dancing and I will also have access to a bevy of lovely ladies. What more can a guy ask for you?

    1. hmagicpro212, well said. There are many real life techniques you can practice at a dance, like walking (with confidence), approaching, touching, flirting, taking control, moving in sync, nonverbal communication and body language.

      As you note, women are plentiful and “speed dating” is the nature of a dance. And, as you’ve discovered, friendly dance communities flourish around the world so dance becomes a great alternative to clubbing, esp. when you travel.

  6. Also I’d like to add that your number one job on the floor when your dancing is to make her look amazing. Don’t try to out dance her or make your self look superior. Remember to check your ego at the door and have fun 🙂

    1. hmagicpro212, good point on ego. One of my rules on ego is to never let your ego exceed your ability.

      A dancer with an ego bigger than his dance ability risks becoming fodder for the ladies when they talk about men behind our backs. IMHO, a dancer with a big ego tends to be insensitive, which can lead to roughness and potential injury (or fear of being injured).

  7. This goes back to the DD DYD evolutionary stuff, but you actually have to initiate the dance, like mating bumble bees or something, in a way that says “we’re dancing now”, and you can’t speak or communicate it verbally. Best way to do this is not compliance with her moves, but eye contact plus a simple rhythmic movement to suggest she follow your lead. A certain amount of mimicry doesn’t hurt either, similar to body language in conversation with someone.

  8. Kind of in a completely different situation to everyone here. Was at a music festival love dancing so went to this bar I was giving it socks on the floor then this really hot girl came up and challenged me to a dance off! It was definitely more of a competition I won too!! Were still texting!!

    1. Jenkins, good question but hard to answer without more information. I can’t speak to club dancing because there can be a lot of attitude at clubs so rejections are not surprising (maybe try less snotty clubs?). But at a partner dancing venue, like swing or salsa, there should be far less attitude. The proper etiquette in ballroom dancing is to accept a dance when asked.

      Some things to consider:

      1) Skip club dancing for now. Go to a swing or salsa dance. Choose a place that offers a beginners’ class before the dance. This will give you a chance to learn a dance move or two. Plus, they’ll probably rotate partners every few minutes, which will eliminate rejection. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to make connections with partners during the lesson, before the dance starts. These are the women you should ask when the dance starts.

      2) Even better, take some swing or salsa lessons at a dance studio. A dance class is a very safe environment. Again, they’ll rotate partners so there will be no rejection. It’s common for studios to have “socials,” i.e., social dances at the studio (choose a studio that has socials). These are the safest, most benign dance venues. And, presumably, if you’re also taking classes, you’ll see familiar faces to dance with. Also, if you ask around after a class (or ask the teacher), find out if there’s a public venue where students go dancing. When you go, look for familiar faces. See if there’s a night they all go together so you can go with the group.

      3) The hardest route to take, which could take years, is to become a great dancer. People always want to dance with the best dancers. Still, any improvement in your dance ability should be helpful. If you think you’re already a decent dancer, you need to break the ice as many ladies will not dance with you until they’ve seen you dance.

      4) I would take a hard look at yourself. Do you smell or have bad breath? Do you act like a creep? Maybe you’ve danced before and you’ve danced too aggressively—eg, you use a “crotch lead” often and inappropriately—and you now have a bad reputation among the ladies. Or maybe you’re too rough when you dance and potentially injurious to your partners. Yes, they talk about us behind our backs. How well do you know and use Neil’s content? You may need to improve yourself and your game, especially if your focus is club dancing.

      5) Don’t overcomplicate the opener. Just smile and ask: “Shall we dance?”

      Hope this helps. Good luck.

      1. Thank you for your reply James!

        My approach to club dance floor is simply to walk up to a girl and ask do you want to dance? Now sometimes I ask girls who are off the dance floor or who are there but not dancing at all.

        What do you mean act like a creep? What is creepy behavior?

        thanks again. And I will take your advice about taking dance lessons.


        1. Jenkins, again, rejection doesn’t surprise me at a club (versus a partner dancing venue). So it’s possible your experience is somewhat normal. Still, my sense of it is that you need to improve your overall game. I’ve got three more tips below but first…creepy behavior.

          Hmm, let’s say you violate the 3-second rule at a club and don’t approach right away. Let’s say you make eye contact with her but it’s not friendly, it’s a stalker stare. Lets say you follow her around the club, still waiting before you finally approach. That’s creepy behavior.

          Creepy behavior is hard to define. I’m going to cop to the old saying by Justice Potter Stewart when he tried to define pornography: he had a hard time defining it but said, “I know it when I see it.” So something may or may not be creepy, it just depends on the situation, like who’s doing it and to what degree. Anything that makes a woman uncomfortable will probably be creepy: invading her space (like talking too close, in her face), bad pickup lines, lying, bad kino escalation, sloppy drunkenness, dressing like a 1970s porn star. Of course, Brad Pitt could invade her space, give a bad pickup line, touch inappropriately and be dressed in a polyester leisure suit, yet still score.

          I asked an HB dance partner of mine about creepy men. She had this to add: someone who won’t leave her alone after dancing once together–someone who tries to dominate her the whole evening; someone who hardly talks, never smiles and has a cold demeanor; and someone who gives the vibe of having no friends—essentially, someone void of social proofing. She reiterated that women do talk about men behind our backs and, if you’re a regular at a venue, you may have a reputation that’s causing your problem. She wondered if your rejection is getting worse—did women used to say yes more often and now they don’t?

          Here are three more tips, which all relate to carefully choosing the right partner to ask to dance:

          1) Try several levels down from an HB, someone whose “attractiveness” doesn’t generate attention from guys. Think of it as practice. (Caution: this could backfire as less attractive women can have attitude.)

          2) There are women who have hang-ups about dancing so, perhaps, you’re asking women who don’t like to dance (unlikely to happen at a partner dancing venue but possible at a club). Observe the dance floor and stick to women who you’ve seen dancing and who dance with different men. Also, consider a woman who’s a bad dancer as she probably gets fewer invitations to dance (or, at least, avoid asking the best dancers to dance).

          3) Observe body language and geography. My experience over the years is that the closer a woman is to the dance floor, the more she wants to dance. So don’t ask the woman who’s sitting back against the wall, engaged in deep conversation with another woman. Ask the woman standing alone at the edge of the dance floor, who’s smiling, tapping her foot and bobbing her head. (Just make sure she’s not waiting for her boyfriend to come back from the bathroom.)

          1. James, Thank you for your reply. I appreciate it.

            I agree with you that I need to improve my overall game.

            You mentioned eye contact. I’ve been accused of staring before. What is the difference between friendly eye contact vs stalker stare? Is it looking at someone without smiling?

            Also you mentioned, “who gives the vibe of having no friends—essentially, someone void of social proofing”
            what kind of vibe is that? is it neediness and desperation?

            Im not a regular at any club. I was 2 years ago but I usually don’t go out to clubs often. It’s a once in awhile thing.

            I did an online search and it seems that an unattractive looking guy is more likely to get rejected on the dance floor and called a creep. Could it be my looks? Like you said I doubt Brad Pitt would have that much trouble.

            Thanks again for your time

  9. [This reply is continued from the last comment by Jenkins]

    Jenkins, if your overall game needs work, there’s limited help I can give you in a column on dance. If you have specific questions on the game, I suggest you email Neil at [email protected]

    I was being dramatic with the phrase “stalker stare.” I doubt you give the look of a stalker (although it sounds like you do stare). Do some research on eye contact. A fun place to start is to check out the movies that Neil watched to learn body language. He mentions a few on page 59 of The Game, movies like Top Gun and Meet Joe Black.

    As far as giving off the vibe of having no friends, in the case of my dance partner who made that comment, she said that the guy had told her that it was his birthday, yet he was at the bar alone. But that comment alone would not be enough to conclude a lack of social proofing. You’d have to see a cluster of traits, like poor social skills, e.g., he was also awkward to talk to.

    As far as an unattractive guy getting more rejections on the dance floor, I don’t know about that. I can speak for partner dancing venues, where the ability to dance is primary and good looks is secondary. Even club dancing, where attractiveness will help more, I think Neil has proven that your game is more important. So we’re back to improving your overall game, which may include a makeover to make you more attractive.

    My best advice still stands: improve your game, take partner dancing classes and go to the social dances at the dance studio. It’s a safe environment to practice everything—body language, conversation and, or course, your dance moves.

  10. “I see dance being used as communication between
    body and soul, to express what it is too deep to find for words,” (Ruth
    St. Denis). Dancing is many things to me, but mostly it has brought
    clarity to my eyes. It has helped me overcome my introverted nature, and it has shown me that every person is unique and different in every way.

    The way a couple moves on the dance floor can also tell a story about
    cooperation, competitiveness, and trust between them. There are
    so many metaphors for life in dancing: how to cooperate, how not
    to throw each other off balance, how to work together, respect, what
    roles you have, and what happens when you make a mistake. Mainly,
    though, it is about having fun. Great post!

    1. SirBenEsquire, how true, dance is much more than dance. Self discovery, self improvement, communication, conflict, partnering, harmony, spirit. And for those of you who refuse to dance, well, what does that say about you?

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