One of the most frustrating issues faced by ballroom dance teachers all over the North American continent is the lack of men. In Europe and many other parts of the world, men recognize the value of dance as a social activity and perceive it as one of the essential man skills. But men in Canada and the USA have been exceptionally slow to embrace any form of dancing.
The reasons are complex. Study books on the history of dance and you begin to see some of the underlying cultural issues behind this. Yet it’s a reality in our culture and won’t be easy to solve.
As writer Andrew Swensen put it in an article on the impact of boys who dance (article no longer available), “When did dance get saddled with gender taboo for boys? Or at least in our culture, for not all cultures are this way. The Argentinians, for example, seem to be tangoing up a storm down there. And if you have ever seen Maori men dance, you can rest assured that they are secure in their gender identity while dancing… I find it odd that we have essentially muted half our population.”
“I find it odd that we have essentially muted half our population” — Andrew Swensen
Every boy learns certain things growing up, but dancing generally doesn’t make it in the list of things he learns from his dad. As a result, most men only start dancing in their adult years. By repositioning dance as an essential skill for men, we can start to make a difference in our culture.
It’s time we change the perception of dancing as it relates to men. It’s time we promote ballroom dancing as one of the “essential man skills,” something every man needs to know just as he should know how to drive a 5-speed, how to fish or how to change a tire.
Introducing the Essential Man Skills Campaign
A cultural change like this doesn’t happen overnight, no matter how much effort you throw at it. It’s likely that change will take decades. But we have to start somewhere.
We started with a series of digital “posters” you can share through social media to promote the idea that men should know how to dance. The posters position dancing as one of the essential man skills.
Click on any image to view, then click the right and left arrow buttons on the sides of your screen to go through them. Right click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) to download posters to your computer.
Help spread the message
You can help get the message out that ballroom dancing is one of the essential man skills. Share this page or download and share the individual posters. You can right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) to download any of these posters to your computer. Share freely and share often. Share your thoughts using the comment area below.