Touch, Experience It!
By Dave Brown
I am always fascinated by people when I ask for them to try Square Dancing. Different reactions can be expected, but rarely, when given a date and time, do I hear, ﾓI’ll be there for class!ﾔ It really seems to be a difficult process to bring new people into our activity.
Without, what I call the ﾓtouch componentﾔ or physical experience, recruitment needs to be a gradual exposure over time. The concept is known as ﾓGet to know, Like and Trust.ﾔ It is human nature to resist change. To only do what was always done before. When exposed to the idea enough, only then will the prospect move forward with action. This can be acted upon through social media or wearing your Square Dance clothes into any establishment, or after party at your local restaurant. People need to see (many times) that there are ﾓa lot of peopleﾔ involved in the activity to the point of being common. Many times I hear comments as to our Square Dance outfits or ﾓwhere’s the dance?ﾔ Maybe we should just throw on some Square Dance clothes and go out for dinner… just thinking out-loud.
The nature of most people is to ﾓSit on the fenceﾔ, wait and see if someone else does something, and if enough people do it without repercussions, then it must be ﾓOKﾔ. ﾓLet Mikey take the first bite.ﾔ If we are out in public enough with Square Dance attire, people might assume that there is a Square Dance somewhere and that they might be feeling left out. Think about it guys and gals.
Now the touch component.
I learned a long time ago, that if I didn’t “experience it by touching or acting on the activity”, I would never know what was reality verses what my mind was thinking it might be. I base this statement on past life experiences. The phrase “Don’t judge another man until you walk in his shoes.” begins to take on new meaning when you actually ﾓdoﾔ or ﾓtouchﾔ the activity as the other man did.
Let’s take the previous statement and reflect on it.
Up until the point of actually experiencing the activity, you have only information that is stored away in your memories of the possibilities of what you are about to experience. You might even be a little apprehensive because touch will be involved. It will be a brand new touch experience. The “real deal” as it were. (I followed that, did you?)
The touch component is missing until you actually, “Do It!” That component is the “real feel experience”. “Tactile or Touch”. You could read, watch someone else in their experience, or hear about an experience from a friend. Until you actually involve your mind and body simultaneously with the physical “Touch” component, the only conclusion that you could have had was from the previous “Non Touch” information.
Now let’s apply it to Square Dancing.
Many people grow up with other dance experiences. That’s ok. It seems that Square Dancing is one of those activities that people actually like to watch, in wonder, as the demo square completes their moves, synchronously one move after another, caller with dancers. ﾓIt looks so hard!ﾔ is a normal comment as the activity is stored away in their subconscious as ﾓTo Hard for me, but coolﾔ.
Ok, now how do we recruit that person?
I have found that the best place to recruit is at a demo as we show our stuff in front of an audience of potential Square Dance prospects! The trick is to bring in bystanders and teach just enough to let them know that they can actually do it. The caller should agree with the demo group, a secret key phrase, like, ﾓExplode the Square!ﾔ This tells the dancers to go out into the audience and bring in one new person as a partner. One square begets two. Two squares turns into Four. Etc. Each newbie has an experienced dancer to help make positive results and success as a rule for the newbie. In almost every case after the set, that I have done this, there are several new people with their eyes opened up to the possibilities of learning the hobby even asking where they can learn.
I have found that from the audience of watchers, we never seem to recruit anyone. But… if we can get people to experience even just a little, touch sells the activity.
Put together some demos.
This gives new meaning to ﾓReach out and Touch Someone!ﾔ