I do not doubt that social dancing is one of the best things you can do in your spare time. Salsa, bachata, kizomba, tango, west coast swing - all of them have benefits that are more obvious, and some not so obvious. They all force you to use several different senses and to use many different skills. Dance can make you healthier and happier. And it also connects you to other people.
This is an excerpt from a bonus chapter of one of my books - "The Secrets of Social Dance - How to Become a Popular Dancer" which you can find on Amazon.
If you are already a social dancer with some experience, you have felt how it is to forget everything else at that moment. You have been wholly present in the dance, lost track of time and space a bit, not spending a thought on work, your relationship, or anything else in life that might otherwise occupy your mind.
Social dance can be like taking a vacation to a beautiful place where no problems exist, even if it is just for a short moment in time. Once you start this journey, it can be difficult to stop. You will want to go back to that place. You will want to experience that feeling of being totally in the moment. This meditative effect is one of the benefits of dance. But there are more.
The most apparent benefit might be exercise. Dance can often be something of a low to medium intensity workout, like walking, swimming, or jogging. Imagine what going jogging for 2-5 hours three times a week would do to your health and body? Also, it can help you strengthen your muscles and bones in your body. It is even becoming increasingly clear that exercise like dance can improve mental health!
And we need this health kick today. We often sit still, alone at work. We take the car or public transportation to work. We might even take an electric scooter the last meters to where we need to go. We simply don't move enough, and social dancing is a great way to fight this problem. Social dance can get us healthier in general, and some people can even lose a lot of weight.
When we dance, our bodies release hormones like dopamine and serotonin. And when we are experiencing physical touch, our bodies also release oxytocin - a well-being hormone. It is called the "cuddle hormone" or "love hormone", and it can produce antidepressant effects, among many other positive reactions in our bodies and minds. We also usually lower our cortisol levels when we dance, so it can also diminish stress. Our mental health gets a boost. We feel happier.
Another important aspect is the social environment. Even though today we can connect directly to people on the other side of the planet, many people experience loneliness. We might have more and more connections, but fewer and fewer of the really close ones, it seems - fewer of the ones that really matter. The social dance scene can help alleviate this problem. When we dance, we meet many new and old friends. On and off the floor, we talk and have fun. And we feel better as a result.
These contacts come from a wide range of different ages, ethnicities, social backgrounds, and occupations. They can be janitors, CEOs, ex-pats, yoga instructors, programmers, supermarket attendants - anything you can imagine. When we are social dancing, we no longer care about these things, and as a result, we widen our horizons. We might carry this over to the rest of our lives. We become more accepting and open-minded to all people, from all walks of life.
When we forget about all these things for a while, we can become more of our true selves and create more authentic connections with other people because of who they are and not because of "what" they are in society.
Fountain of Youth
In addition to making us feel happier, dancing is known to delay the onset of dementia.
Research shows that when we dance regularly, we are around 75 % less likely to develop dementia, since dance provides benefits both from aerobic activity, helping decrease risk of depression and chronic diseases, as well as mental activity that helps our brain stay healthy. Compounded, this greatly reduces our risk of dementia.
When we dance, we create new neural pathways and help keep a sharper and happier mind.
This effect is even stronger for follows since following requires more split-second decision making, which exercises the brain even more.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”
~ George Bernard Shaw
We can also grow as a person when we start social dancing. As an introvert, I can confirm this. Social dance often forces us to step outside of our comfort zones a bit. We need to be a bit more social. We need to dare to approach other people.
Personally, I had to learn how to stand in front of people and teach, sometimes in front of 300 people and more.
It had always terrified me to talk in front of people, but no more. I have gotten used to it.
If you are a bit shy or used to letting others make decisions, it can help you grow. Or if you are used to be a boss, used to making decisions and giving orders, and maybe a bit of a control-freak, it can be useful to learn how to relax and let someone else call the shots. Let someone else lead.
There is one more upside to social dancing, not related to the actual dance itself, but more to be a dancer. When you are a social dancer and go travelling, you can always find new friends, usually within a day or two. The only thing you need to do is a quick search online, on Facebook, Google, or maybe MeetUp, for dance events in the city where you are going. Check for upcoming events, go out dancing on one of them, and instantly you have gotten to know a few locals. Now you can get useful tips on what to do and maybe even meet up for more dancing or other activities.
And there is one more significant benefit. Maybe the greatest of all.
It is a lot of fun!
Suggestion - Check the kizomba, fusion, musicality and follow technique courses here.
Note: Commissions may be earned from the links above
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