It strikes me that these days there seems to be some pretty high expectations of dances and dance events. People want greatness from their dances – that incredible connection when everything aligns with a partner and the music – and greatness from their events – the amazing energy of an inspiring weekend experience. I don’t blame those with such expectations: who doesn’t want great dances with their partners? And with an increasing number of events to choose from, we want great value for our dollar – events that are fun and rewarding.
The problem arises when people are overly disappointed because reality doesn’t match their expectations. Just because a dance isn’t out-of-this-world amazing doesn’t mean it isn’t something to be enjoyed and appreciated. Just because a dance event isn’t mind-blowing doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining and worthwhile. Sometimes good is good enough, and we should be happy with that. Because you know what? “Amazing” is a rare thing.
The fact that “amazing” isn’t common is partly what makes it so amazing. If every dance were amazing, then the bar would simply get raised and we might start expecting more. The rarity of “amazing” is what makes it special, and what keeps us coming back for more, and what drives us to work harder to improve. It’s the possibility of having that amazing experience that makes this dance both exciting and rewarding. But the truth is that most of the time dances are not amazing.
Take competitions, for example. In any finals of a higher-level division, there may be a couple or even three truly outstanding dances. Then there will be a few good but not amazing dances. And the rest will be less than successful – missed connections, misaligned styles, conflicted partnerships, etc. So of say ten dances, only a couple are going to be amazing. Why should we expect any more from our own dancing experiences, whether competitive or social?
Honestly, I mostly blame social media. Let’s face it: No one posts videos of crappy dances on YouTube; they post the amazing dances. And no one writes post-event status updates on Facebook discussing why an event wasn’t enjoyable and how it could be improved; instead they write about the amazing dances!, the amazing competitions!, and the amazing people!
But the truth is: not everything is amazing. And that’s okay.
I’m fortunate to live in an incredible dance community – big, friendly, and talented – and I know I get spoiled with great dances. So when I go to a dance or weekend event, yeah, I’ve been the guy who has a run of bad dances and complains about it. But then I remind myself to have a little perspective: I’m so privileged to be able to do this thing we call partner dancing – to express my love of music through movement, and to get to do that with someone else. So maybe we didn’t create magic, or we had some missed connections, or I had to work a little harder. I’m still getting to do something I love, something not everyone can do or do well, and even if it wasn’t great for me, maybe I made someone else’s day a little better. It may not be amazing, but that’s pretty darn good, don’t you think?
So as the year ends, and the holiday season arrives, let’s be thankful for all our dancing, amazing or not. And may the coming year be one in which we find the amazing in all our dances.