WEST COAST SWINGJust Say "Yes" (Maybe)

© 1997

by Kelly Buckwalter

"Would you like to dance?" These are the five most common words heard at any swing dance, yet for many people the emotions that come up when they speak these words are overwhelming. Face it, no one likes to be rejected. I know from experience when I was in high school and college I was NEVER asked to dance. Since I had the misfortune to have very beautiful roommates, whenever a guy approached me I discovered that he usually wanted the name or phone number of one of my girlfriends. Very humiliating.

So I soon learned if I wanted to dance I would have to ask a guy. So I did. And most of the time they said "No." (They really did! My mother tells me I was just a late bloomer...) Fast forward a few years to my introduction to the swing scene. I discovered that everyone asks everyone else to dance and guess what? Having been rejected all those years I vowed I'd NEVER say no ... well, almost never.

Over the years I've modified my "never" to allow me off the hook under the following circumstances:

I figure it's only about 3 minutes, it can't be all that bad, and maybe I'll make a new friend or learn something new. Besides the more I learn about the dance, the easier it becomes to compensate for both my mistakes and my partner's mistakes. Since a lot of people have told me they are terrified to ask anyone to dance and they feel like leaving when someone does reject them, I figured if I repeated some of the rejections given me, maybe some of you will realize that if you get rejected, a lot of the time it is more a reflection on the other person than it is on you!

Note: Although obviously I have been rejected by guys, I assume that people are people, and probably you guys have gotten some of the same responses that I have. My guess is that women reject men just as much as men reject women - what do you think?

Anyway here are the responses for your amusement. By the way, lest you think that once you've been labeled a "good" dancer no one will turn you down or be rude to you, think again. The following responses were said to me after Dominic Yin and I had won the U.S.Open and I had been judging and teaching for over 10 years.

My questions: "Would you like to dance?" The responses:

And last but not least, my all time favorite: "I don't know." (What the heck does that mean?).

So what's a good response to the questions. "Would you like to dance?" Well, here are some of my favorite responses:

And remember folks, use common sense. Ask the people who look like they want to be asked (I think those NGSDC "Ask me" buttons are a fantastic idea!) Donít go for the lovers in the corner or the person involved in an intense conversation. If I see a woman I donít know with a good male dancer, I always ask her first if I could ask her partner if he could dance with me, and when my partner said sure, the guy just took my hand and pulled me onto the floor. When I asked him why he didnít ask me he said, "Why? Your partner said it was ok, didnít he?"

Kelly Buckwalter, from the San Francisco area, is US Open Classic and Jack & Jill Champion. You can purchase her popular and extremely instructive video tapes by calling (707) 544-8184.