Dancing can be intimidating. At any wedding or club, there always seems to be someone there who looks so effortlessly cool moving around on the dance floor. Not everyone feels that confidence or has an arsenal of moves to break out at just the right moment, though, and when you’re in a time crunch before a big event, the whole dancing thing can send you into a little anxiety spiral.
Worry not: There are a few simple moves and confidence boosters you can learn right now to prepare you for your big boogie debut.
Novell Loh, a competitive dancer in New York, told Lifehacker there are some moves beginners need to study: the box step, the dip, the under-arm turn, and rolling off the arm.
“These are various steps that can be combined to form different variations,” she explained.
We hear you: What are those? Get yourself to SchoolTube to find out. You didn’t think you’d learn dancing by reading words without getting a visual, did you? Here’s a tutorial on the box step. Here’s one on dipping. Head here for the under-arm turn, and here to learn about rolling off the arm. (Go ahead, watch them; I’ll wait.)
Remember that no one at a wedding or a bar expects you to be an expert unless you have somehow implied that you are. It’s not likely you’ll be getting down surrounded by pros, either, so you don’t need to worry about acing difficult maneuvers.
“If you’re not as knowledgeable, try to keep the steps simple,” Loh said. “It is more beautiful and enjoyable than to stress over complex steps.”
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Feel the beat. Move side to side and tap your feet together. Look, you’re dancing!
In case you haven’t heard, TikTok is all about dancing these days. You’ll look a little silly hitting the whoa at your cousin’s bat mitzvah, so don’t, like, replicate everything you see on the app, but check it out for tips on how to feel the music, groove, move freely, and generally look a little more confident.
The #dancemoves hashtag has 1.1 billion views and #dance has 318 billion. You’re not alone in seeking guidance here.
This won’t help you if you have a big event coming up in the next few days, but if you have some time to plan ahead or want to prepare for the possibility of a future surprise event, look into dance lessons. You can learn ballroom dancing, salsa, waltzing, and even square dancing while making new friends in a comfortable environment.
But make sure you get started now: Loh recommends three to six months of lessons before a really big event. Becoming a lord of the dance does not happen overnight.
It feels like everyone is watching you, we know, but they really aren’t. In most situations, you’re going to be in a fun environment, surrounded by other people who are trying to enjoy themselves, not critique your moves. You should be trying to cut loose and have a good time, too.
“Just truly enjoy the dance,” Loh said. “Don’t stress about anything, but be present with your partner. Smile, relax and keep your head up. When you are ‘in the moment,’ you will be out of your head and less likely to overthink, and that naturally helps with enjoying the dance.”