Monthly Archives: February 2014

Why EVERY man should learn how to dance.

salsa-dancingI can say with some certainty that for as long as there have been humans on this ball of mud, there has been dancing. Our bodies react to rhythm. Some better than others admittedly but we all *want* to move. Each of us stirs a little when our favorite song comes on.

So it baffles me then, as someone who has been part of the club scene as a DJ, the bar scene as an owner and an overall lover of music and  dancing, why I hear so frequently from women the phrase “He doesn’t dance…”. This is usually followed by a tell-tale look of disappointment I’ve seen so many times before.

Men are by nature, “macho”. In Mexico, a place I love like I was born there, “Macho” is actually a term for a man (or more accurately a boy) who is parading himself around like a peacock. It’s a coming of age but during this coming of age, Mexican boys learn something that has seemingly been lost on American’s. Dancing.

In many countries other than Mexico, dancing is an important right of passage as well.

So why doesn’t your man dance?

Most of the responses I’ve heard when badgering a guy into telling me his reasoning for refusing to dance is lack of confidence rather than lack of desire, which is a common instant rebuttal. This  is valid. It takes a little bit of courage to get out there and ask a woman to trust you to throw her around the dance-floor. Never having been taught is another reason I hear. “Dancing is girlie”, “I have no interest” as well as other weak responses are common as well.

If you think dancing is “girly” you should ask a woman what she thinks of men who dance. I did. Several. Just for this blog. You know what I got back when I asked several female friends to give me three adjectives that come to mind when they see a man dancing?

Sexy
Mysterious
Confident
Fun
Intriguing
Light-Hearted
Spirited
Comfortable in his own Skin

Admittedly not all adjectives, but, do you still think dancing is “girlie”?

You can dance if you want to…

Want is the first step. You have to “want” to learn to dance. But why should you?

The reasons TO learn in my opinion far outweigh those NOT to. For a single guy, one of the best reasons to at least familiarize yourself with some simple dancing is, well, women. Women love to dance, women love men who dance. I guarantee you that more women are going to be intrigued with your “Sure, I’ll dance with you” response then your “I’m too much of a bad-ass for that sissy crap” response. Women dig confidence and as I mentioned, it takes confidence to get out there. Dancing is an amazing ice breaker.

For the married or otherwise attached man, dancing is a social activity that you can enjoy with your partner and meet other couples who are of similar interests. Dancing is a challenge and learning new routines can be a confidence builder. It’s something you and your significant other can practice at home. It takes almost no investment and dancing is great cardio.

But. You have to get out there first.

You can leave your friends behind…

Confidence is the hill you are going to have to climb. If you have the desire but not the will, push yourself to get out there. Skill will come naturally with time and practice. If your friends make fun of you (like they did to me), you’ll have to ignore it and keep pushing. I promise you they’ll be asking you for advice when they see you confidently walk out on the floor and ask a women to dance.

Dancing and music in general is what saved me from becoming an extremely shy and anti-social adult. I never danced in high-school and I was terrified of the prospect of asking a girl to dance. This changed with the right words at the right time from a friend of mine just after high-school. You have to assume you’ll get rejected and just keep moving. She might lack confidence as well, she might just not be interested in it. She might be where you were when you started. If you are familiar enough, offer to teach and if not, move on.

Most importantly, ignore any ridicule you get from other men for your dancing. Peer pressure is a confidence killer but if you ignore it and move past it, you are going to see looks of envy from those same friends who had faces of disgust. Nothing shuts a “macho” man up faster then seeing you walking out to the dance-floor hand in hand with the women he was admiring. Nothing.

Ok, I admit it, I want to learn, but how?

There are so many answers to that question. If you aren’t standing in a douche-bag laden club full of guys twerking (which is NOT dancing), most dancers will be willing to teach you the basic steps. One of the ways I learned Salsa for example, was simply by going to Salsa nights at local dance-halls and restaurants. Often they will have free lessons for the first hour and because so many people come out, you are bound to find a partner at a similar skill level. I met many friends this way and even a partner who was willing to put the time into it like I was. She was married, her husband came as well but because of build differences, Salsa was difficult for them as a couple but they enjoyed the dance style with others. Later, when they married, both myself and his Salsa partner took the floor after their first dance and did a duet dance.

There are also MANY You-Tube videos out there with free instruction. Books can be found at resale book shops for next to nothing and there is always your social group, surely someone you know cuts the rug?

Repetition is important so you become familiar with the steps and aren’t concentrating on them. When you achieve this, your flow will be smooth. If you are lucky enough to master a school of dance with a partner, you will begin to anticipate their moves.

In ending…

Aside from all of the above, dancing is sexy. Plain and simple. When you are one with your partner on the floor and your bodies are accentuating one another’s, people notice and that is a huge confidence builder. You are looking in each other’s eyes and there is a bond of anything from mutual respect and grace to “I want to rip your clothes off right here and now”. Whether it is a graceful waltz or a sex-emitting salsa, feeling another person’s body in your hands as you ebb and flow through a routine is one of the most beautiful, sexy and primal things you can do with another person.

Additionally, there are a few times in a man’s life where he should be required to dance. Yes, the wedding. Obviously. Nothing makes me cringe more than watching a new husband and wife struggle awkwardly through their first dance. It’s painful to watch. On the other side of the coin, it is extremely joyful to witness the same couple who obviously did a little preparation and choreographed a simple first dance that looks rehearsed and polished. You don’t have to be Fred Astaire out there, you just have to put a little effort in.

Suicidal Tendencies

suicide7Suicide is never the answer little camper. That line comes from an 80’s comedy I know well but there is nothing comedic about suicide.

When I was a teenager, I thought long and hard about taking my own life. This might be a surprising revelation to you if you happen to know me now.

I thought I was not loved. Certainly I knew my family loved me but I thought that was as much as I would ever know. Enough of course, the love of your family but somehow at the same time not enough. These were the thoughts of a shy, awkward teenager. I was the fat kid. I was the geek. I was the kid alone at the dance. I thought “this is as good as it gets”.

Tonight I’m sitting I am sitting in a bar around the corner from my loft. The bartender who is usually chipper and excitable looks like someone hit her with a truck. I ask her what is behind the lost look in her eyes. Silence. Contemplation. Finally; “My sister committed suicide this weekend”. She looks me dead in the eye and says “I love her, but that was the most selfish thing she ever did.” I agree of course because I’ve come to believe the same, that suicide is a selfish way to go.

Earlier this year I lost two people to suicide within a week of each other. One I didn’t know well, the other however, is someone I counseled and thought I knew pretty well. He had his demons as we all do but I thought he had them under control.

What I am about to say might piss you off. So be it. Suicide is the chicken shit selfish ass way out. Chances are if you are reading this, you aren’t living on the streets of a third world country. Think you have it bad? Think again. And before you go off ranting about “you’ve never been there, you have no idea” please remember, I have indeed been there. Not been there for attention but been there in my room with a gun to my head counting up the reasons why I should and should not pull the trigger. Yes, I get that depression can play a part. Yes, I understand all too well that teenage angst, hormones and naievty causes our children to think “This is as good as it gets”. Whatever the reason, I stand by my rant. It’s the chicken shit way out.

I spent a good amount of time as a teen mentor in my mid to late twenties. Along the way, I lost two. The last finally pushing me, as it has pushed many, out of the mostly volunteer field of young adult mentorship. I felt responsible. I felt like I didn’t do enough and for years it lived with me as “my fault”. It wasn’t of course. Nothing anyone could have said would have fixed that little girl. She had to want to fix herself. She refused. She decided “this was as good as it gets” and at 15 hung herself in her bedroom where her parents found her. Selfish? Absolutely. Her parents will forever live with the image of their baby girl hanging limp in the bedroom she grew up in. Her friends will never forget the day she left them. Her brother, previous an honor roll student dropped out of school the next semester and last I heard had been put in rehab for a heroin addiction.

The kids are the hardest but on some level more understandable than a grown adult taking their own life. Young adults don’t have a worldly view, they have a narrow view and so it’s easier to understand why they might think “this is as good as it gets”. You want to scream at them “Just wait, it gets better!” as they are stepping off the roof. But adults? I don’t get it. Yes I know it gets bad. I was married to a bi-polar woman for many years. An amazing woman but one who was off medication for the better part of our marriage. She really hated the meds and when I was young I supported her, I thought “She’s strong”. And she is, but as I’ve gained knowledge and understanding, I’ve also changed my opinion on medication that assists chemical imbalances and completely changed my view that “you can overcome by just trying”. Shortly after we split, she found the right doctor and the right cocktail and she is a completely different person. It works, but you have to want to help yourself.

In 2005 I dealt with my own first experience with complete depression. I had gone through something extremely painful. I went to work, like a robot. I cam home and slept. I was sick to my stomach constantly. While suicide never entered my mind, I started to understand how it could for others going through the same thing. I didn’t seek counseling but I did read a lot. Slowly I recovered and one day I just felt like it was all going to be alright. That doesn’t work for everyone but it worked for me. What it taught me is that depression is for real. It isn’t for the “weak minded” as I once thought. I remember being a teenager and telling my sister that depression was for the weak. I was wrong. I was oh so wrong.

As I sit here writing, I am thinking back to all the people I’ve personally lost to suicide. A girl I worked with in high school who also happened to be on the same volleyball team with a girl I dated. A young adult who I worked with and with whom my ex-wife was also connected to through his wife who shot himself not long after having their first child. A girl I dated in a small town in Texas just after I moved out of my mom’s house. The list goes on and on. The fact that I can remember each one of them proves to me the selfishness of suicide. If I can remember them so vividly, imagine how those close to them were affected.

I’ve rambled quite a bit in this post. For that I apologize. I implore you. If you are reading this. If you think it’s the way out. It isn’t. I know it’s dark. I know you feel like no one will understand. They will. You have to open up and I know that is the hardest part. Take it from someone who has been there, who has been there for other and who has lost still others; your life is worth the effort.

“You’re pretty.” – “&%$# off!”

woman-throwing-drink-on-man(1)I am a hopeless romantic. The first time I realized this was probably around sixth grade. I remember going to an ice cream social and the feelings I had for a cute little curly headed girl. I was pretty shy which people find hard to believe these days so the first time I acted on my romantic inclinations was at a mall when I was approximately 16 years old. A friend and I were walking through the mall and there was a florist pagoda. I bought three roses while my friend stared at me in confusion. I explained to him that I was going to walk up to three pretty girls and give them a rose with no explanation. He thought this was absolutely ludicrous and that we should go down to the arcade instead.

Very few people can fathom that I even have a romantic side. Even fewer can imagine that I would act on it in such a way. As I have matured, I find myself doing these types of things less and less. The reasoning behind this has nothing to do with desire but rather the reactions that I have gotten from people over the years. Where once things like the flowers at the mall seemed romantic and innocent, they are now considered creepy or even assuming. I went back-and-forth trying to decide if this was a changing of the times or simply something that happens with age. I settled on both. The times have changed and we get more suspicious and less willing to be hurt with age and experience.

But. Rant.

Ladies, just because he tells you that you’re pretty, doesn’t mean he wants to sleep with you.

Certainly, many DO want to sleep with you and an opening line like that is supposed to woo you. However, if you come to assume that every one of us  “wants you” because we tell you that you look nice, you are not only an ego maniac but you are going to be lonely too.

I get it. You can get laid any time you want. You are female and have “the power” and you are going to tell me you can brush off as many men as you care to and still pick one up a minute later. This is true. It is. Except that the “guy you can pick any time” is going to have the intellectual capacity of one of the Jersey Shore boys. He is only going to want you for what is under your clothing. Which is what many women end up dating… And then complaining about… To the guy they should be dating.

There is an internet saying I’ve heard where a woman asks “Where are all the nice guys?” and some random off-screen male yells “In the Friend-Zone where you left them!”. There is some absolute truth to this. Many women I know have said to me “But I want to date the bad boy!” There are plenty of bad boys out there who have stable careers, triple digit IQ’s and don’t have to borrow mom’s car to take you out.

I’m not defending the males here. We have ourselves directed you ladies into thinking every compliment really means “can I sleep with you?”. I have in my head a bar graph that shows the lack of innocent comments to the increase of comments said only in hopes of bedding you. The slope looks like a big X. Because of the sheer ratio of innocent, from the heart comments to those made in hopes of getting laid, it is easy to fathom why most women simply blow off romantic comments from someone they don’t know. The vicious cycle is that the guys willing to step up and say something from the heart diminishes each time they are completely and sometimes rudely blown off.

I mentioned earlier that women “have the power” and it’s true. I only recently had a conversation along these lines with a female friend. It’s not hard for a woman to get a date. On the contrary, it takes a bit more for a guy, even a confident one, to step up and ask a woman out on a date. Most of us got past our rejection issues early on but they still linger there, whispering in our ears as we build the courage to ask you out. We know from experience how easily and quickly we will get blown off. We pick the situation carefully in which we will ask.

So women have the power. Men also have some of this, especially confident men. Yes, some of us could probably go out and pick up a woman tonight. The difference is, those same guys who are in the business of making sincere compliments are the same ones who aren’t going to pick up a woman for the night because it is not chivalry and the same ones you left in the friend-zone and complain about not finding.

Next time a guy walks up and says you are pretty, utilize some of your natural empathy skills and decide if he is just trying to get laid, or, if something you did caught his attention. “Pretty” might have been all he could muster but it could have been the sway of your hair, the glint of your eyes or the way you sipped coffee that intrigued him rather than your chest, backside or what he imagined you to be like in bed.