Men Who Dance Are COOL
My unpopular opinion: that dancing is something for men (and all genders) to be proud of
Men Should Dance Too.
As a dancer who has been dancing my whole life, never once have I seen or danced with a boy in one of my classes. Not one. And that is saying a lot, since I have been dancing since age 5, in 3 different studios, of different styles such as ballet, jazz, musical theatre, broadways jazz, and now flamenco. Out of hundreds, maybe even a thousand (if I am being over-dramatic), people I have danced alongside, not one of them was a boy. How absurd! I always wondered why this was. Now I can see that it's because of the oh so popular stigma that boys cannot or should not dance.
I grew up in a dance loving home. Before I was even born, my parents had actually met salsa dancing. My father was born and raised in Mexico, where latin dancing is very popular, and pursued his passion here in Vancouver where he had been lucky (for me) to meet my mother. My mother was new to dancing at the time coming from a small town, but my father easily swept her off her feet during those many dancing events where they would dance the night away. Once I was born, dance was instantly a huge part of our family. I would go to watch dance shows, or stay home while my parents went out dancing with their friends, and started dancing myself whenever we were allowed to be let on stages. As soon as we reached an acceptable age to be thrown into a couple dance classes, we began. My parents would watch every dance show and would even join classes themselves at the same studios. So it is very obvious that dance was a hobby for all of us. I grew up dancing, and developed the same passion for dance as my parents (not to mention also got professionally good at it), but soon learned that this passion was not so popular among an unfortunate, distinct, gender.
At school age it was clear that most of my girl friends also took dance, and none of them seemed to be boys. That was just the norm. When the dance unit began in our gym classes, I was horrified to see what this lack of dance education had done to these poor boys! OH the agony of watching these boys struggle with simple side steps while laughing and humiliating each other. I couldn't believe my eyes when they could not keep a beat to save their lives. The whole time they called at each other yelling they are so"sissy", "gay", and "girly", finding shame in that as they made this whole class into a big joke and opportunity to tease. Well, I think the real shame here is their lack of confidence and groove! My hopes and dreams to fall in love dancing with my soulmate vanished pretty quickly.
For the record, I think our culture and our stubborn boys got it all wrong. Somewhere along the way of socially constructing the ideal notions of gender roles and masculinity in our western society, dancing somehow was categorized as a feminine activity, something only women could do. Do we forget, how we mostly are immigrants to this land, and came from Europe all that time ago? Those same cultures that never lost the touch between men and dance? Now in our modern day society, all these boys are growing up socialized to popular "masculine" norms via television, instagram, or whatever media it is, that dancing is for gay guys, or dancing would ruin their egos or any chance to prove their manliness. Boys think it's embarrassing and wrong for them to dance because they just are not natural at it, and dancing does not appear attractive to women. I just have to note here again this is absurd. Guys can dance, we see it in dancing competitions and other areas of the world where dancing is accepted for guys. If it is possible for them, it is possible for the guys here too. And If there is one romantic movie scene I want to happen in my life, it's the one where the guy asks me to dance and we fall in love, happy ever after. Also, my dad managed to do this in real life, so this shows just how impressive a dancing man can be.
I also want to address in more detail here, how dancing is popular in so many other areas of the world, especially Latin America, Europe, and Africa. In these cultures it is all genders who dance in social settings, whether that is swing, salsa, merengue, macru, tango, and so on. It is a norm for them to dance at holidays, gatherings, celebrations, or on the streets for fun. The beauty of flamenco, which is what I currently study, dance, and teach, is that it is often seen on the streets of Spain where families, men, and women all come together to share their own dancing skills and rhythms. The same can be said for many other dances and cultures, so it is not abnormal or unnatural for men in Western cultures to get on this same level!
One last point I would like to use to drive my argument home, is that dance is scientifically proven to improve mental, emotional, physical health. It is after all, a cardio-vascular activity that requires coordination, fitness, and memorization. You are constantly challenged to move and stay balance, all the while focusing and training your mind to memorize the steps and move to the music. Dancing is proven to prevent illness, increase stamina, and improve muscles and bone strength. In addition to all these crazy perks and benefits, it is a mental or emotional escape from your life, or those horrid social pressures are telling you what or not to do. This is your chance to let loose and be yourself, and of course, dance like no one is watching! It is possibly the best therapeutic relief, and offers so many other physiological benefits at the same time. How can you not want to dance?!
I know this opinion is not going to be easily swayed, since our whole culture sees men as dancing as some sort of taboo that shows weakness, or gayness or whatever it is that guys do not want. I am here to share my un-popular opinion here, that everyone should feel comfortable and welcome into the world of dance where passion, joy, and love exists. However cliche that sounds, it's true! My parents know this, and all their other friends who also married their dance partners. Next mission, is getting my own boyfriend on the same dance train...
I recommend if you have never danced before, but are now willing to give it a shot (now that I have showed you just how cool it is), research the type of style you want to try and see what classes or programs are available in your area. If you are more of a partner type of dancer look into salsa, ballroom, or other latin styles. If you are more comfortable with dancing by yourself and working on your own confidence and groove, try looking into hip-hop, zumba, contemporary, or flamenco! There are also probably many courses or videos online for that sort of thing. All it takes is practice, and even if you are late to joining the party, there is still hope for you.
Thank you all for reading, I hope I convinced you that dancing is fun and a cool thing for anyone and everyone to do, regardless of gender identity. Please show your support if you enjoyed this article so I am encouraged to make more and keep promoting my dreams of a world of dance in my culture, whether that's sharing it with friends, giving it a like, or sending a tip. Break a Leg --- Veronica.
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