xxyte asks: I always go to these discos/parties every month (the discos/parties are for my age in case your wondering), but this month loads of people in my year in school are going – and I’m such an awkward dancer (I’m okay when I don’t know the people there) and the ‘popular’ girls are going to this and so I’m really nervous. I would just not go but the guy I like is going, so could someone PLEASE give me advice on how to dance and act at a disco/party for teens? And how to chat to the lad you like at it? It’s a no-alcohol event by the way.
Hi xxyte –
I really have two sorts of advice for you, and they’re completely the opposites of each other.
The first is to find a school or teacher near you who can teach you basic dancing really quickly. To be the best dancer in the room, and no longer awkward. And similarly, to get someone to help you with social skills like talking to cute guys (maybe a therapist). But the problem with both of these is that they take time. And you’re in a rush.
Now you point out that this is a non-alcohol event. Lots of adults use alcohol to ease their anxiety about occasions just like this. Drinking helps them feel less worried about what they say, so they talk more freely (and then sometimes say waaaaaay too much and have to apologize for it for the rest of their lives); and it can help them be more at ease in dancing, so they dance more freely (and then sometimes slip and fall on the floor, throw up, or any of the other charming things drinking can cause!).
So I’m glad there’s no drinking, because what this will do, instead, is give you opportunities to learn by trying, succeeding, and failing! You don’t want to be one of those grownups who has to have a drink to talk to someone – that can lead to horrible addictions. What you want is to learn, and to build your confidence, so that, for the rest of your life, you can walk up to really handsome guys, or really powerful intimidating women – or even really cute doggies! – without too much fear.
So my second advice to you is… wing it.
Get out there and try to talk with that boy. Before you go, think of five things that you could talk with him about: Do you have any classes together? Do you have any shared interests? Is there something he’s great at that you don’t know anything about? All of these are fine. If you try, most likely he’ll appreciate it and be happy to talk with you about them. (Remember: the most important thing about social occasions like this – everyone else is probably just as nervous as you. Yes, even that cute guy!)
And get out there and dance. Who cares if you’re great or not; you’re not auditioning for the next Beyonce video, you’re just having fun. Have you ever hear that saying, “Dance like no one’s looking?” Well, do that! But also enjoy that someone might be looking!
When Handsome first took me to the dog park, I tried to get the other dogs there to play with me, and none would. It was really frustrating. But over time, I learned two things. First, I learned just enough about how to interact with them (and who to interact with – and who not to!) that I started to get along well. But second, I learned what rules I wanted to play by. For example, I love to run, but I don’t want to chase other dogs; I like being chased. So I’d find other pups there, get their attention, and run from them. Four out of five wouldn’t do a thing. But then that 1/5, oh they’d run me ragged, and I was in ecstasy!
This is your future, xxyte, if you make it happen. Get out to that disco and make a thousand mistakes, and learn how the kids want you to act. But also figure out what you want, and find those who will act that way too!
One point though: there’s only one wrong thing you can do, my friend, in these situations. And that’s to be so lonely, so nervous, so eager for acceptance, that you let someone pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do, or aren’t ready to do. Remember, this is your life, and this is your night. So some girl who sneaks something in there that she says you have to drink or smoke, or some boy who says you have to do something with him… they’re wrong.
Way back, maybe fifty years ago, there was a popular song that went “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” Well, xxyte, this is your party, and you can dance, or flirt, or be goofy, or be shy… or cry, I suppose… if you want to. Because, my dear, it is YOURS. Take it!
All my best,