How to Dance at a Wedding.

In most cultures, weddings are a time of celebration. And, most of the time, that involves dancing. What, you don't know how to dance? Don't worry, neither do I. But fortunately it's easy to learn.

If you want to learn to dance you could take lessons, but that costs money. Fortunately, most modern dance doesn't require formal training and formal steps. It just requires practice in holding a beat. As with most skills, the way to become a good dancer is to be a bad dancer for a long time and not care.

Weddings are a great place to practice, especially if you're embarrassed at how new you are. For one, everyone is generally in a good and friendly mood already, so they are less likely to be judgmental than at a club. For another, wedding dancing is usually after dinner and drinks, so most people will be at least partially drunk. As long as you have less alcohol than the rest of the wedding party, you're already a step ahead!

Preparation

  • Select an appropriate wedding. Make sure you know at least the bride or groom. If you know both that's even better.
  • Don't over-eat. Nothing cramps your style like cramps.
  • Go easy on the booze. You want to be the most sober person on the dance floor; that way you look good by comparison.
  • Wear comfortable clothing you can move in. If you're wearing a suit, take off the suit and just go with a good dress shirt. If you're in a dress, make sure it doesn't restrict your leg movement. If you're wearing a kilt, you're awesome and need to make sure your sporran is securely in place. If you're wearing a vest, you're just awesome. Full stop.

The Approach

  • You don't need to be the first on the dance floor, but there's no need to wait for it to be full. Just wait until the first few people are on the floor, and you're good to go.
  • Listen! Dancing is all about moving with the music. Stand near the dance floor and try to identify the back-beat for the song. Try two or three songs, and you'll probably notice they all have easily-identifiable back-beats that are consistent through the entire song. That's your rhythm.
  • Catch the rhythm. Tap your foot, tap your hand on your thigh, whatever you need to just get some part of your body moving with the back-beat.

Larry dancing at a wedding.

Engage (this is a wedding, right?)

  • Wait for a song where you can easily follow the beat. 80s music tends to be good for that.
  • Once you have a rhythm, step onto the dance floor walking with the beat. That's the key: Whatever you do, just follow the beat. Use it like a metronome or conductor.
  • Stop walking forward. Walk backward two steps, with the beat. Now forward. Now backward. Turn 180 degrees and go backward again. Now turn sideways with one large step and step sideways.
  • Guess what? You just did about 70% of what wedding dancing entails. Just keep timing your movements to the back-beat, ignoring the rest of the music. It's just a distraction at this point.
  • Smile. No, really, smile. You're supposed to be enjoying yourself. If you're enjoying yourself, you'll have an easier time getting your groove (aka, following the beat long enough that you don't have to think about it).
  • Now try something besides your legs. Hands, arms, head, shoulders, hips, whatever muscle group you feel comfortable using. Eventually you'll add in several of them, but start with what you're comfortable with. Just keep following the rhythm.
  • Look at the people around you. You'll probably see some and go "wow they're good." Ignore those people. Look at the rest of the people on the dance floor. Don't they look silly? They do. So do you. That's OK. You're all looking silly together. That's the whole point!
  • Don't under-do it! Dancing involves confidence. Even if you're not at all confident in what you're doing, pretend you are. "Fake it until you make it." Pulling back and half-assing your effort will fail. You're dancing; you're all-in.

And after a few weddings, you should have enough practice to graduate to the big leagues: DrupalCons.