For the last month or two at Holy City Salsa, there’s been an interesting phenomena in several of the group classes—more guys than girls.
It’s surprising...how many times have you been at some sort of group dance class or event that’s been overflowing with women and only a handful of men? So what’s the deal? Why are men taking over the dance class game? And what are women missing out on by not taking classes?
Here are a few theories and observations from personal experiences—comment below if you agree or disagree and let’s have a dialogue about this.
The Learning Curve is Imbalanced
Women/follows can go on the social dance floor, be led through moves and achieve a certain degree of competency without necessarily knowing much more than a few basics. Though classes and lessons are important to learning finesse, style, and technique, most ladies can at least learn enough on the social dance floor to have a decent time at a dance event.
Men/leads can’t really learn by doing on the social dance floor. Or if they try, women/follows may start avoiding them because they will get tired of being improperly led through moves. For a man/lead to have a good time at a social dance event, he needs to be somewhat competent, and at least have a few moves he can lead in his arsenal.
A lead said his enjoyment of dance events exponentially increased the more he learned. The more moves he knew, the more technique he had, the more fun dancing became for him. Follows are not expecting leads to come out of the gate being excellent dancers—there is definitely a learning curve on both ends, but follows often advance faster than leads, at least in the beginning.
This makes women/follows feel like they don’t need to take dance classes on a regular basis—however, once women/follows plateau from just learning by social dancing, they tend to stay in a plateau, whereas leads who take classes regularly tend to advance past their plateaus. Think the tortoise and the hare.
The Social Structure is Imbalanced
Women may opt out of taking dance classes because they statistically spend more time on housework and childcare than men. If a woman has to get dinner on the table, make sure the kids are taken care of, and get those extra loads of laundry in, she’s probably not going to spend her spare time taking dance classes. Women with kids, especially single moms, often have to arrange childcare when they are taking dance classes, so a one-hour dance class turns into an expensive and time-consuming process after setting up and paying for childcare.
Men are also more likely than women to spend time on any given day participating in a leisure activity, such as dancing.
The time of year may also affect whether or not women can attend classes—those with kids find more responsibilities heaped on them at the beginning and ending of the school year and around the holidays.
Women also may have less disposable income than men. Women still earn 80 cents to every dollar that a man earns, and so it’s possible that women have less discretionary funds to spend on dance classes as well as less time.
The Dance Class Model is Imbalanced
Social dance classes for partner work, like Salsa and Bachata, tend to focus on learning steps, patterns, and combos. Since the onus is on the lead to lead these combos, more attention is usually given to teach the lead’s technique and footwork. Though principles of following and styling are also taught, the elements of a class that would appeal to a lady are not necessarily the focus.
Though it is always beneficial to practice a step over and over again, ladies/follows may grow bored with the repetitions needed for a lead to master a step. It’s up to the instructor to make sure that the ladies/follows always have something to work on and refine.
Women may start out taking dance classes, but stop because they feel like they get the same experience from just social dancing if the instructor doesn’t take the time to work with the follows.
So what do you think? Do you think these observations and ideas are valid, or totally off the mark? What have you noticed happen in dance classes? Does it vary from community to community? Are you in a scene that’s overflowing with women?