Ep. 86 When You Just Don’t Dance Well

It can’t be avoided. At some point, you will have a performance that just doesn’t go well. You will have days where your dancing is just…off. Even if you do everything that you can to plan, prepare and mitigate issues, there will be times you just walk away knowing it just wasn’t your best dancing.

And we have to live with that.

In this episode, I tell the story of my recent Nightclub night at a competition and how I just didn’t dance well.

Then I offer some Dos and Don’ts to help you deal with it and get past it.

For help figuring out this for yourself, might I recommend a free ⁠Dance Strategy Call⁠

If you want a ballroom community with a hefty side of mental and emotional resilience, join my Facebook Group, ⁠Joyful Ballroom⁠

Welcome to the podcast. Everybody. I just got back from the Citylights Open and I knew exactly what podcast I needed to do. I’m going to start with a story from Citylights Open, and then I’m going to give you some do’s and don’ts for when you just don’t dance your best.

So I was at the Citylights Open and we were dancing the nightclub night, and it was going okay. It was going fine, but I did feel a little bit kind of off. I felt a little bit sluggish or slow. I felt a little bit rusty or something, but it was going okay. Like that happens sometimes, right?

You have some single dance rounds to help you get into a groove, help you shake off the rest a little bit. And so that’s not unusual. So we’re trying, you know, we’re doing our multiple single dance rounds. But as it’s going, it’s just not coming together. I just could not quite get into my normal groove.

I did feel kind of stiff. I had worked out with my trainer the day before and I felt kind of sore. So I didn’t feel like myself. And as we were dancing, which we always dance the nightclub stuff lead and follow, we don’t have any routines. And as we I just felt like I couldn’t quite connect with my partner, and I did feel like what he was putting together, the combinations he was putting together just didn’t feel normal. We don’t always do it the same by any means, but it just felt different. Like we don’t usually put these in this order. So I was having trouble following his leads and I just, it couldn’t feel loose.

It couldn’t feel fun. It couldn’t feel like it normally feels. It felt like I had this image in my head of like, when I had done this mud run, it was a dirty dash and I put my feet in the mud and it suction cups your feet in the mud, and it kind of feels like it’s going to pull your shoes off.

And then you finally get out of the mud and you get going again. And then the whole rest of the race, there’s like sandy pebbles in your shoes. And that’s what it felt like. It was like we couldn’t get it together. And it just kind of felt like a mess. Okay. And I just started to literally get pissed.

Like I started to feel angry and I wasn’t angry at him. And I wasn’t even angry at me. I was just angry at this situation. And there were for sure moments that it was okay, but I was getting very frustrated that it wasn’t going well. I almost hit him in the head, twice. My hand like whiffed over his hair, and he was like, “Whoa!” and then finally I did actually hit him square in the forehead with my arm, and I had a crystal bracelet on, which cut his head and drew blood.

Okay? And then he did not react well to that. So when we got off the floor, I let him know that his head was bleeding. So he left to go tend to it, and I felt so bad about that. And so then I just was kind of done. I was like, I even said to him, we’re not doing this ever again. And I don’t even know what I meant.

He was like, “What? Compete?” And I was like, “no,” like, I don’t know. I just wanted to never do this again. I just never wanted to feel this way again. So he comes back from the bathroom when he was tending to his injury and He’s like, “I’m not mad. I’m not upset. Come on, we have a little bit left. We can do it.”
And so we get to the very last round, which is a multi dance and we’re the only ones doing it. Nobody else has signed up for it. It was uncontested and it’s a four dance. I can’t remember what it is. It’s Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Hustle, something like that. So everybody in the room is watching us.

Okay. The first song is a salsa and the music starts and he starts dancing and I am certain that he started on beat two, which we’re supposed to start on beat one. So I am struggling to follow him because I can’t reconcile what he’s doing with what I’m hearing in the music.

So I think he can tell. And so he says, am I off? And I said, I think you are. And so we start dancing on what I want to dance on. And I am feeling so much better about it. I’m like, yeah, this feels like one. And then he was like, no, no, I can’t do it. So we spent the entire minute and 10 or whatever it was, basically fighting over the salsa beat, which all of you know, if you’ve ever heard any interviews from judges, it’s like the one thing that they cannot abide is when people can’t stay on the beat. So what is going through my head is that all of these judges and all of these people are like, why can’t they get it together and get on the beat?

So that did not start our multi dance out well. So the following dances, I can’t even remember. I probably am blocking it out. So we get done and we get off the floor and I’ve just had it. Okay. I’ve had it. I’m done. So we’re walking out of the room at the end of the night and people are taking pictures out front, you know, in front of the ballroom.

And I want to get a picture of the outfit that I had created. And I’m in the worst mood. The worst mood. Like, I’m furious. And Mark’s trying to settle me down. He’s trying to help me feel better. And I just, I just want to be in a bad mood about it. I just want to be frustrated by it. And a couple of judges come out and they come over to us to tell us what a good job we did and how much they liked it and how much they enjoy our dancing. And they love it when we are at the competition because it’s so fun to watch and they love our nightclub because we dance at lead follow and, and we have so much fun and that’s how it should look and feel. And I’m thanking them of course, but I’m like, yeah, I just, I didn’t feel like it was my best dancing tonight.

So I’m frustrated by that. And Mark says, yeah, she’s kind of beating herself up. And I was like, hold on. I am not beating myself up. I do not do that. I do not believe in that. I’m not beating myself up. I’m not making it mean anything about myself. I’m not, like I said, I’m not mad at myself. I’m not mad at him, but I am processing how I feel about it.

And so I wasn’t happy. I mentioned that at the beginning of the multi dance, that salsa, I couldn’t hear the beat. And Mark and I spent the whole salsa arguing over the beat. And one of the judges, I kid you not, said, yeah, when I heard that song, I thought, what is this song? Like of all the songs we could choose, why are we choosing this one?

And I felt so seen and validated in that moment that I think at least 50 percent of my bad mood melted away. I was so grateful that she said that, right? Okay. But mostly I just was frustrated because obviously we want to dance well, we want to dance our best and we want to have fun.

All I think just about everything I danced was uncontested. And so I still got all these first place medals, which just don’t feel the same when you just know you didn’t do your best and you guys know I don’t focus as much on the results. That’s not as important to me as the dancing and as the experience.

So I was just frustrated about the experience. Now, all I wanted to do at this point was just like wash the day off, right? I just wanted to get out of there. I wanted to scream into my pillow and then just like get the next flight home. Like that, that’s how I felt in the moment.

So what I want to offer to you right now is some do’s and don’ts for when you just don’t dance well, because we are all going to have these moments.

The first one I want to offer to you is, I’m going to offer to the don’ts and then the do’s. Okay.

Don’t trust your brain in this moment. When you are having a moment like this, your brain is going to say all kinds of stuff. It’s going to be offering you all these thought storms. It’s going to judge you. It’s going to be very hasty and it’s going to say and do things that you just can’t trust. It’s going to offer you stories. It’s going to be dramatic. And it’s going to tell some lies about how you don’t belong here. How you shouldn’t even be doing this and how everybody hates you and that they think you suck. And it’s all stories and you cannot really trust any of it, especially the stuff that you’re not intentionally choosing. If it’s just what your brain’s offering you, when you’re in this emotional storm, then you can’t trust it.

Number two, don’t get attached to those stories that it offers. Those stories about how you shouldn’t be here, how you don’t belong, how you embarrass yourself. All of that, those are just stories. Don’t get attached to them. This is just one of those days and we’re not going to get attached. We’re not going to make it mean anything about us. I’m not gonna make it mean we’re a bad dancer, none of that.

Number three, don’t make your emotions facts. Emotions are transitory. They are temporary, like a fog. They kind of roll in and they roll out, or like a cloud. So don’t attach meaning to what you feel. All of us experience emotional waves. And when you’re in the midst of that emotional wave, when I talk to my clients about it, I talk to them about it like it’s a waterfall. And we’re just, when we’re in the waterfall, we’ve got to go down the waterfall. Okay, but it is eventually going to settle out and you are eventually going to have some clarity. And a lot of that stuff that you were thinking and feeling in the midst of that emotional wave, you’re not even going to care about anymore.

And you’re gonna be like, I can’t believe I said that. I can’t believe I thought that. I don’t even know why I was being so dramatic. And this is what happens when you’re in those emotions. So don’t attach meaning to it. Don’t make it a bigger deal than it is. We’re just going to let those emotions happen and then we’re going to move on.

So here’s the next don’t.

Don’t make hasty decisions. Like how in the moment I felt like quitting. I felt like dropping out of the next rounds. I felt like going home. And when I told Mark, I’m never doing this again. I didn’t even know what I meant, but I wanted to make some hasty decisions.

Of course, I never meant any of that. So you can’t make hasty decisions when you’re in that kind of an emotional state. So we’re not going to fly home. We’re not going to quit dancing. We’re not going to fire our partner. We’re not going to never dance salsa again. All right. No hasty decisions.

Now let’s talk about some do’s.

Number one, do let yourself feel your emotions. You are a human being and you have a full range of emotions and it is normal and expected to feel them. You are not a robot. You are not a sociopath. Feel frustrated, feel angry, feel disappointed. Okay. Now there’s a difference between feeling your emotions and allowing your emotions, and ruminating on your thoughts and spinning in a mental cesspool.

And there’s a difference between feeling your emotions and letting yourself process them and reacting to your emotions where, for example, if you’re angry, you’re yelling at people or you’re throwing things or slamming doors. Those are different. Processing an emotion doesn’t have to look like really anything on the outside.

You’re just going to feel it. You’re going to allow it. And this is why I wanted to be upset that the dancing didn’t go well. Okay. Feel frustrated, feel angry, feel disappointed. You don’t need to talk yourself out of those emotions by telling yourself, you should be grateful that other people have it worse than you do.

Don’t invalidate yourself. Your emotional responses are valid. We got to process them so they don’t get stuck. Okay. So let it happen. Indulge it for a little bit.

I do recommend, number two, that you talk it out and that you vent. If that feels like that’s what you want to do, I do recommend that over stuffing it, honestly. But talk it out and vent with people who are trusted people, who won’t take it all very seriously or, um, try to solve it for you. The purpose of the venting is to help move it, to help you process it. Okay, so we just want to have kind of somebody be a lamppost and be there for us so that we can talk it out so we can help move that energy. And they’re not gonna, they’re also not gonna make it permanent what you’ve said. They’re not gonna believe that you really mean it. So you gotta be selective sometimes about who these people are.

Sometimes I do this with myself. I’ll turn on a voice recorder or I’ll turn on an app where I can talk into it and I vent to myself. So, do vent.
Number three, do move your body. This is another very good way to move energy and to process emotion is to move your body. And this can be walking, go for a walk, get out of the ballroom, go for a walk, especially if you can like go outside where it’s cold. And that’s going to kind of shock your system a little bit.

Maybe you want to take a bath or a shower. Water is very good at moving emotions and cleansing away energies, mental and emotional and physical energy. Listen to high vibrational music, that’s another one, or shake it out, just shaking your body, just shaking your body is going to help you move some of that energy and move some of that emotion.

Another good one for anger is to go right up to a wall. And push with your arms straight as hard as you can against that wall. And even just like, Oh, just like grunt it out. Use those muscles, contract those muscles as you push against the wall to help move some of that energy scream into the pillow. If you want, maybe you need to make some changes to shift things, go change your dress, go pick a different dress. Do something to help you shift your state.

Next one, do learn from it. Do figure out what happened. Why did it happen? Can we figure out any of it? Sometimes I just tell myself, it’s just the moon. It’s just the position of the moon. And that brings me a lot of peace sometimes. That’s it. There’s no answer.There’s no reason. There’s nothing anybody really did wrong. It just wasn’t our day. And sometimes that’s the only answer I can come up with.

But a lot of times, like in the case of Citylights, I could point to some things. One, I had worked out with my trainer and my body was kind of sore and I didn’t feel like I could move very well. And so I thought to myself, you know what, I’m going to make sure that I don’t have any strenuous, really tough, heavy workouts the day or two before the competition.

Or when I felt like Mark’s combinations were confusing to me, I did mention that to him at the competition. And he said, I can see why that’s the case, actually, because when we’re practicing in the studio, I do it a little bit differently because we have a lot more time.

And when we’re on the floor, I’m consolidating them in a different way. And so they probably are in a little bit different order that you’re not expecting. And so we talked through that, like, oh, we might need to either practice that. Or do it in a way that feels more like what I’m used to. I felt like at times some of the dancing was just a little rough. It was just a little bit intense. And so I need to talk to him about that.

I probably needed more of a warmup that day, with the traveling and everything. Because we traveled and then went right into dancing. So it was like, I got off a plane and started dancing. Essentially, figure out what are the things that I can mitigate next time so that we can help prevent some of those. Definitely learn all of that from, from the details.

Next, do let it go. Have a short memory. Do not let it bleed into the next event, the next day, whatever it is. Pick an amount of time, pick an amount of time that you’re going to vent. Indulge, do the learning from it, all of that, complain, whine, scream, pick an amount of time that you’re going to indulge all of that. And then when you’re ready, you’re just going to decide, you’re just going to very definitively intentionally decide I’m letting this go never to pick it up again. Okay. Let it be history. Let it be old news. It’s not relevant to the next event and be very intentional about that. So for me, I had rhythm the next day.

And so I very intentionally decided, I said it out loud to myself, I said, I’m not bringing this energy into tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day. I’m going to go get some sleep. And this all resets. I’m wearing a different dress. It’s a whole different situation. We’ve got our routines. Tomorrow’s not gonna be anything like today. And I set that very intentionally. I was like, tonight will not matter at all. Tomorrow, let it go.

DO…get back on the horse. We’re not going to quit. We are going to do this again. And really as soon as we can, what I love about this particular instance was I had the nightclub events. And then the next day I had the rhythm events and rhythm events, and I felt like I redeemed myself to a certain extent.

So I was able to leave that competition on a good note. We don’t want to have a situation like the nightclub night where it just doesn’t go well. And if you had decided in that night, like, I’m just, forget it. I’m done. I’m scratching everything else. I’m getting on a plane. I’m going home.

You’re leaving that situation on a sour note. With a bad taste in your mouth, and I would rather have you get on the horse as soon as possible, so that you can have another positive opportunity to have another positive experience. Okay. So we’re going to get back on that horse. Like if the horse bucks you off, the sooner you can get back on that horse, the better so that we don’t let this persist. Redeem yourself. Don’t leave it on a sour note.

Listen. Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen. Bad days happen, okay? You will feel like crap about it. Welcome to being human. Believe it or not, the point is not that you are never going to feel that way. The point is not that you are never going to have a bad day.

The point is, is that when bad days happen, when things are off, what are we going to do about it? We’re going to do what we can with it, and then we’re going to move on as soon as possible. And that’s the point. The point is how quickly, really, can I process it, allow it? Get past it, do the best that I can with it, and then move on.

And there’s so many things that we can do to make this persist, and make this infect so many other moments of our life, but we don’t have to do that. We don’t have to give it a big meaning, we don’t have to make it mean anything about us, we don’t have to have it drag on and on and on. Bad days are gonna happen.

You can handle it. All right. I love you. That’s what I have for you today. Catch you next time.

It’s time to

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Hi there,

I'm Amber haider

As an amateur ballroom dancer myself, I understand the issues that come up for dancers, the pressures of competing, and the desire to make the most of my ballroom experience. I also really like to WIN! As a Life Coach by vocation, I have the tools to cut through the mental garbage that is holding you back so that you can maximize your potential. Using my own tools, I have been able to skyrocket my own skills, learn faster, lessen the pressure, win more and have tons more fun. I can show you the way. Here’s a couple tools to get you started:

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