I grew up in religious home that believed dancing was a mortal sin punishable by death. (I'm exaggerating, my church doesn't believe that nor do my parents.) I also went to church school where we had banquets, hence why I didn't have dances or proms in high school to go to which I guess is where most kids learn how to or perfect the art of relaxing and dancing. That said I will agree that there is a lot of dirty dancing going on that is just ridiculous and simulated sex on the dance floor. But you don't have to dirty nasty dance to have a good time on the dance floor. And this is something that my parents really couldn't teach me because my mother didn't grow up dancing and I'm not sure that my dad was the kind of guy that danced in high school. He just hung out.
Even though my parents didn't teach me to dance that doesn't mean I didn't turn the radio up in my room and flail my arms and legs about in some thrashing manner to the beat of the music. I have rhythm and hearing the beat and moving to it has never been the problem. Here's where the problem was; in my room only I could see myself in the mirror, there was no audience around to look at me and see just how silly and ridiculous I looked. When no one was watching, I didn't care how I looked, I was having fun and expending loads of energy all at the same time without the fear of of laughing and pointing at me by a whole dance floor or room of people. As a result of my private sessions, let's just say I can do a mean running man which took lots and lots of practice. And now when the Office theme song comes on TV, I tear it up on the living room floor much to the entertainment of my husband who refuses to join me.
I did just fine with this in junior high and high school. But then college came and I made a trip to Austin with a friend to visit a friend. We decided to go down town to the world famous 6th street to hang out and catch any random band playing. So we went into a place and a reggae band was playing. We were just standing there enjoying the music (standing room only) without moving a muscle. After a bit we started to notice everyone around us was relaxed and moving to the music. It didn't really come to my mind at this point in time that they were either drunk, high, or both so they were chemically relaxed. Instead, it occured to us that we ought to relax and enjoy ourselves and not be so stiff. So there we were doing our best to sway to the music while feeling awkward and stiff. Do you know what a board looks like swaying to music? Well that was me. I was also fighting a look of shame and embarrassment on my face at the same time too. Luckily it wasn't brightly lit but in my mind that didn't matter. My face was glowing red and lighting up the room and it was as if somone was yelling through a bullhorn telling the room to look and how dumb and silly I looked stiffly bopping and swaying to the music. This wasn't even dancing. This was attempting to do something that should be easy. But not so much much for me.
Later in college I went to establishments prime for dirty dancing. It took a few times to build up the courage to go out on the floor with a female friend and just jump around. In fact that might have been the song to get me out there, I don't really remember. Jumping is a good way to start loosening up though. As time went by and I realized that people cared more about drawing attention to themselves than looking at me, I relaxed and embraced my inner dancing queen since most people looked as or more ridiculous than I did.
Whenever a country song came on, slow or not, I'd leave the dance floor. This is because, 1 I hated country and more importantly 2, it usually involved coordinated steps, which went against my nature. One time, one of my friends convinced me to go out there and he was going to teach me to two step. Awkward. This was my first attempt at dancing where you follow someone else's lead. So he told and showed me what my feet needed to do and where my hands went and we were off. This kind of dancing actually makes much more sense than my way, but requires much more discipline, control, and relaxing I think than I have. Anyways I generally spent the whole time counting my steps and looking at my feet, because when I wasn't doing those things, I would get off step and so it was just best if I concentrated. Besides, what are you supposed to do with your eyes?? Make googly eyes at each other. He was hot but he had a girlfriend and I wasn't about to step in on someone else's territory. So that added to the awkwardness. So I decided feet were better than eyes at this point. I was glad I tried and learned it though because it gave me the ability to try it a few other times. Even though I remained somewhat stiff, I still did it. Which was better than not trying at all.
I usually danced with my female friends or a few guy friends since they were "safe." If a guy I didn't know wanted to dance, I would give him an opportunity, but if he tried to put his hands on me or invade my personal space, I was out of there. As time went on, I found out that I had a sign flashing on my forehead that said "back off." Or something along those lines. The older I got, the more I made sure it was flashing when I went into a facility of drinking and dancing. This is because I had more fun dancing with my friends than fighting of some drunk guy rubbing his business up against me. That was not my idea of fun. And I found myself not getting asked to dance nearly as much as my other friends. And I was quite alright with this especially since I wasn't there to find my husband. Anyone that thinks they can find a quality mate in a bar or a club is crazy. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I'm just saying that wasn't the place to find someone with similar values as mine and it wasn't my intention either. My only intention was to have fun and get some good exercise.
I once took free or cheap dancing lessons with a friend and it was us and some women, and some smelly unattractive older guys. I don't remember but there may have been one or two dirty (pervy) old men there. If I remember correctly there were more women than men and my friend and I ending up dancing together a few times. I think I was usually the man. Because I'm taller of course. Anyways my suggestion is if you ever go to dance classes, take a partner of the opposite sex with you. Because if you're like me switching from leading to following is simply not possible in such a short amount of time. It was still fun though.
I think the trick is to take multi-purpose dance class when you are little. Then you can get over the anxiety of looking like a doofus because you have the confidence of a trained dancer. At least for girls.