I dropped my nieces off to school the other day. What a sight. I hadn't been to an elementary school in a long time. Driving in on one side to drop off and come in on the other side to pick up. There is an art and correct way to do things. After the 20 minute encounter I thought about what it would be like going back to school. I guess it would be fun. However, the hardest part for me would be lunch. I remember when I went to junior high for the first time. Walking through the cafeteria at lunch was the most difficult. Figuring out whom you're going to have lunch with. It seemed as if everyone already had paired up. Everyone had their set of friends and it was only I who hadn't been selected to join in on the fun. Although the feeling lasted forever in my mind, in reality it was less than a minute. I would soon find a group that was more than willing to accept me into the pack who were in the same situation. In the end, all was well and life continued without missing a beat.
Back to the present. All those years and still sometimes when I enter an unfamiliar situation I have that slight feeling of discomfort come over me. As if I were a 12 year old finding my group of friends in the cafeteria for the first time. Whether it be a fundraiser, a meeting in a new area, presenting at a music concert series or hosting an event in a new location. We all have that feeling and want to be accepted. We all want to be a part of the group.
When you join the studio for the first time, there's a ton of excitement. You're trying something new, excited to finally dance and looking forward to what the future will bring. Then your teacher invites you to a group class and that's when everything falls apart. So much goes though your mind, but above all are two main thoughts. 1. "I don't want to look like an idiot" and 2. "I don't know anybody. Will I fit in?" Don't worry. Everyone else is thinking the same thing. There a reason why they say safety in numbers. Heck, even the Golden State Warriors have the motto Strength in Numbers. Similarly, you can find some peace knowing you are not alone and there is help to get you through it. Here are some tips to ensure you achieve a good first group class experience.
1. Arrive Early
Part of group class stress is knowing your environment. Who's going to be there, what if I don't get the pattern, what will I learn, etc. You can eliminate most of those worries by arriving early. Usually you'll meet other students who have done the same and you'll get a chance to acclimate to the studio. An instructor is typically nearby engaging in conversation with other students to help ease the tension before class begins. This also ensures you getting to know your group class instructor in case you haven't met yet.
2. Try The Basic
Often, you will take a class in a dance that you have yet to experience. This is normal since in the beginning, there's not a lot you know. When you arrive early, take a minute to ask an instructor about how to do the basic. It's a great way to get a head start if you're unsure about the dance. You can also ask to review the basic of a group class during your lesson. The group will begin with the instructor teaching the basic, but since you already know it, you'll be ahead of the game. Putting your mind and worries at ease. Now you can concentrate on doing Step 4.
3. Ask Questions
There will be some topics and moves that may need some extra explanation. The instructors are trained to notice behaviors that suggest more repetition and will catch most of what students will have difficulty with, but one thing they can't do is read minds (although they like to think they do). Feel free to ask a question for clarification about a step or pattern. You can even ask questions about history or origin about dances if that interests you. The beauty is, others are most likely thinking the same thing and are just too nervous to ask. Feel free to ask at any point as there is no wrong time to ask a question.
4. Have Fun
All of these actions will help your mind reach that relaxation point you're searching for, which will allow you to do what you really came here to do. To have a good time! Plus, the instructors are naturals at helping everyone enjoy themselves. Don't be surprised if you find yourself having a good time, smiling and enjoying yourself by the end. We believe learning should be fun and shouldn't take ourselves too seriously.
One Last Thought
These tips are great for helping make your group class experience a memorable one. It may take 3 or 4 to get used to it all, but the team is dedicated to making your overall experience a great one. Give it some time and soon you'll be a regular. Before you know it, you'll be the one helping the new kid going to group class for the first time. Won't that be a treat!