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  • Why do I get so many NOs & how to deal with it

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    Rita Morais

    Would you like to dance?

    There are moments where we feel like we are caught in a wave of nos. One after the other, the more we get them, the more this invisible negative force starts pulling us down and away from the contrasting joy and happiness of those dancing around us. “It looks so easy… Why can’t I find someone to dance with? Why does no one ask me to dance? What’s wrong with me?” And the more nos we get the harder it gets to want to ask, so we sit in a corner, frowning, passing all possible “no” vibes ourselves.
    Yes. We’ve all been there, and it sucks. This post comes from the bottom of a heart that has heard infinite nos and spent several full nights feeling like a rejected little ball of failure ❤︎, it might sound a little harsh, but I’ve seen people leave the dancing world because they got stuck in the “no one wants to dance with me” phase, and hopefully it can help someone out there go through it.

    *Also, side note, these reasons apply to both leaders and followers, even though, of course, at most festivals the numbers are unbalanced: more followers than leaders. This means that followers will struggle to find partners more than leaders will, making each no so much harder to hear.  

    The whys and how to deal with it

    There are so many possible reasons to get a no, very few actually have anything to do with you, I decided to divide the ones I think are the main ones into two buckets:

    “not about you” aaaand “maybe it is a little bit about you”:

    Ok, let’s start with the easiest one:

    NOT about you

    The person you asked is

    • tired
    • wants to take a break
    • wants to go to the toilet
    • wants to go smoke
    • wants to skip this particular song (it’s too fast, too slow, etc)
    • wants to go talk to someone
    • wants to have a drink
    • wants to leave the party
    • wants to go change their tshirt
    • wants to dance with someone who already asked
    • wants to go ask a specific person to dance
    • wants to think about the endless incertitude about the meaning of life…

    The list could go on forever.

    How to deal with these?

    First of all remember how important it is for people to be able to say no to a dance freely. We all fight for an environment where people dance with whom they want, when they want. ALWAYS. This means, some of these nos will eventually be directed at you.

    Acknowledge that the person who told you no the fifth time doesn’t know about all other four before them. Life, and specially a forró party, does not revolve around you. Most dancers would say yes if they knew they were your fifth no, if they knew how hard it is sometimes (specially for followers) to not be able to dance for several dances in a row. Just shake it off, take a deep breath and understand “It’s not about you”.

    Another tip is to form allies, people you know like dancing with you (make them like dancing with you!). Those are the ones that can “save you” from these negative spirals, you can be honest and say “I really need to dance with you right now”. Most people will understand and either dance with you or keep you company at least!

    One more point: GO TO CLASSES. If you are in a festival attend the workshops, this will allow you to meet some people and this will for sure make it easier for you to find someone to dance with at the parties! (Also, it goes without saying: you’ll get better!!)


    Now… let’s get to the hard part…

    Maybe it is a little bit about you

    If you do consistently get nos and specially from people you have already danced with before, then there might be other reasons. We all deserve to be treated with care and respect, but we need to do our part to be an attractive partner (and I’m obviously not talking from a looks perspective).

      • Maybe your dance is too heavy/too energetic – this is MY number one reason for saying no (both as a follower and as a leader), we need to respect our bodies and dancing with a heavy dancer is definitely not ideal. How would you know if you’re heavy? Ask. Ask anyone really, ask people you know and trust and be critical with your own dance (in a positive way!!). Learn to switch roles! This will give you SO much insight on what feels good and what doesn’t.
      • Maybe your personal hygiene is not good enough – maybe you smell bad, maybe your breath smells of tobacco, maybe you are too sweaty – again, ask your allies, bring several changes of clothes, deodorant (ladies, us too ok?), etc
      • Maybe your level is too low for the people you keep asking to dance with (and you don’t know it) – Now we get a little political here, I am a firm believer everyone should dance with everyone, but I’ve seen this several times: people only want to dance with people with levels way higher than them. Intermediates wanting to only dance with very advanced dancers. If you aim that high, chances of getting a no will increase. It makes sense if you think about it, in the end it’s a numbers game. The good dancers very rarely can actually choose who to dance with so it’s natural they have to say no sometimes. Knowing your actual level is hard, I remember thinking I could follow 100% of someone’s dance and realising years later that I actually couldn’t. They were toning it down for me and therefore not exploring their full dance when they danced with me. How to deal with this? Practice practice practice! It does get better the more you practice, the less nos you’ll get. Be open to asking anyone, there are always a lot of available people to dance with, even when it seems like the world is all against you, maybe you’re just looking the wrong direction. Here’s a really good blog post from Felipe Raso about dancing with different levels (in portuguese). 
      • Maybe you don’t match what they want at that time – not all people dance the same style or with the same “goal”. Hear me out here, apart from the level, we can also discuss style. Some people are more flow-y, some people like bigger movements, some people like more turns, etc etc. some can (and want to) adapt to others, some cannot. Dancing with a stranger is always a gamble, and people might not be in the mindset of taking a gamble at that moment. Or maybe, they do know you and you just don’t match their style – maybe they even feel uncomfortable that they can’t adapt to you. In terms of “goal” – some people dance to have fun, some people dance to improve their skill and explore their dancing, some people dance to flirt (not that many in forró, but some) and, of course, it changes according to the mood and situation. You might just not match what they want at that time – or ever. This could actually be in the “not about you” section from a personal perspective – the point here is: don’t think too much about these people who just don’t “match” you, and if it does bother you… ahm… Practice! ❤︎ and speak up! Don’t wonder in the shadows forever, most of the times… it’s all in our heads.
      • Maybe you’re passing “NO” vibes yourself – This is tricky to fix, but if you are looking like a “little ball of failure” you’re not very attractive to ask to dance either, most people would also expect a no from you. Shake it off, smile, and then go for it and get your 12th NO if you have to! Eventually the wave will pass! It always does.

    There are of course many other reasons, but I hope this helped some of you rethink your negative waves in the dance world. Things are getting better: many festivals are trying hard to balance their numbers to avoid having too many people “waiting” to dance, many dancers are learning to switch roles (although I think/hope many switch roles because they want to and not out of necessity!). Remember, we’ve all felt the wave of nos and as any wave, the best is not too fight it, but to learn ride it.

    Do you agree with these reasons? Do you have other reasons? Let us know!

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