I recently had the good fortune of meeting Rich Gosse, chairman of The Society of Single Professionals and author of The Donald Trump Syndrome: Why Women Choose the Wrong Men to Love.
He told me something none of you millennials are going to believe:
"Even though I founded the second ever online dating site back in the 1990s, I still think meeting face-to-face is best.”
And I agree.
Especially after attending his recent No Rejection Dance Party in Redwood City.
The idea intrigued me, as "no rejection" is an unofficial rule in social/partner dances like swing, salsa, contra, and others. It helps prevent cliqueiness, gives everyone more confidence, and ensures new dancers have the chance to improve. (But, of course, the second part to this rule is, you're only supposed to dance with the person for one song, then you can't ask them again... unless you wait until way later.)
So obviously, I was happy to hear Rich is bringing the concept to unpartnered dances and had to know more. As he brings to the table decades of singles party experience, and continues hosting over 60 singles parties in San Francisco and the Peninsula and Silicon Valley per year (check the calendar at ThePartyHotline.com -- he's got events coming up on February 8 in Milpitas; February 16 in Burlingame; and February 22 in Burlingame; not to mention the Valentines Ball at the Westin St. Francis Hotel on Union Square in SF, which hundreds of single professionals typically attend).
“Just Say Yes” in the era of Me Too
The first thing I learned from my conversation with Gosse is that no one’s forcing anyone to say yes, so he can’t guarantee that no one will be rejected. Of course, it’s your choice who you dance with.
(And, going back to social dance -- it's totally fine to reject someone if you have a good reason. When I say no, it's almost always because I already promised someone else the next dance... but I've heard of guys who danced creepily, perhaps by putting his hand too low on the girl's back or holding her so close their hips were touching -- awkward! I would not dance with someone like that. Remember, guys: when girls are "rude" to you, there's a decent chance it was your fault.)
But at Gosse's No Rejection dances, people are incentivized to say yes with prizes for the person who dances with the most people (as indicated by signatures on dance cards — kind of a fun throwback to the 1910s!)...
1912 Dance card of Gladys Ewing. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries.
But, in the words of Gosse, “Just saying yes to a lot of people is a prize in itself.”
Yes! As someone who loves meeting new people, even if not necessarily for romantic reasons (indeed, I think you should flirt with basically everyone), I agreed wholeheartedly. I had some unexpectedly interesting conversations during the party with people I only meant to spend three minutes talking to. (That’s about the length of a song.)
Saying yes means meeting more people and learning things you didn’t expect. But that’s not even the “prize” Gosse meant.
“A big problem is people will go to dance parties where everyone is a stranger. Women complain that men don’t ask them to dance… But men don’t ask because so many women say no.”
It’s a problem Gosse has seen repeatedly at the 2,000+ singles parties he’s organized.
“The other thing is,” Gosse continued, “What if Mr. Right is watching when you say no to Mr. Wrong? Now he’s scared to ask!”
It's a win-win. Men feel less scared to ask, and women are less likely to intimidate Mr. Right.
Busting gender roles: a winning strategy
Saying yes to a dance is one way women can increase their chances of meeting someone special. But another way is for women to subvert gender roles and ask a guy to dance. Gosse mentioned psychology research that found about 50% of men are “basically shy,” so asking women to dance is hard for them.
The crazy thing is, according to Gosse, “The more a shy man is attracted to you, the less likely he is to ask you to dance.”
This is a phenomenon Gosse discusses at length in The Donald Trump Syndrome. Women tend to be attracted to confidence, and they tend to wait for men to approach them.
“If you want the 50% who are up for grabs, you have to ask him to dance,” Gosse says. Just because the guy is shy, Gosse added, doesn’t mean he’s not well-educated or financially stable. He may have plenty to offer. But you’ll never know if you don’t take a chance and ask him to dance.
It's just for three minutes!
Gosse's advice for men
While there is usually no official dress code at Society of Single Professionals parties -- and, really, most events where one would go to meet people -- he encourages everyone to “dress to impress.” This is especially important for men, Gosse tells me, because women are more fashionable than men. When they see a man who is poorly dressed, they will assume you are either poor or stupid.
“And women aren’t into poor or stupid!”
Meanwhile, many men want to seem cool and nonchalant. They don’t want to look like they’re trying too hard. They have no idea how much women will judge them by their clothes.
“Dress in your finest,” Gosse repeated, “Even if, for you, that’s just a clean bowling shirt.”
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Gosse's advice for women
The whole idea behind the No Rejection party is that you say yes when someone asks you to dance…
THE FIRST TIME.
But just because you say yes the first time, doesn’t mean you have to say yes the second time. (And, again, guys: the polite thing to do in this situation is to only ask once, and let her initiate if she wants to dance again.)
“Some women complain,” Gosse told me, “That if they say yes to Mr. Wrong -- now they can’t get rid of him. He latches on.”
So, women: along with saying “yes” to Mr. Wrong, you also have to be willing to say no. Be assertive.
The next thing Gosse said took me by surprise -- but when he explained it, it made total sense.
“After "Just Say Yes," the second most important piece of advice for women is, Never let a man sit next to you uninvited. Don’t just say no the second time he asks you to dance -- if he sits by you without permission, just tell him, ‘Please don’t sit there.’
He might ask, ‘Why?’
And you should reply, ‘Because I’m here to meet people, and I don’t want people to think we’re a couple.’”
Wow. That's bold. But, like I said, it makes complete sense. Assertiveness is a wonderful skill -- especially when the alternative is letting someone you’re not interested in usurp your whole night. It's your night. You don't owe it to anyone to spend it with them. And remember: you only get 52 Saturday nights per year.
And you could get hit by a bus tomorrow.
Would you really want to have spent your whole last night of your life talking to someone you didn't like, just because you wanted to be "nice" and "polite"?
It's not just, "Your body, your choice." It's also, "Your time, your choice."
Remember that, because there are clingy, clueless guys everywhere. That’s why it’s important for women to be able to express their boundaries. (And for men to work on developing their social skills. Remember: it's a skill. That means you can practice and learn and improve.)
Want to know more? Check out:
And, of course, don't miss Gosse's The Donald Trump Syndrome: Why Women Choose the Wrong Men to Love.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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