I know that if you’re reading this, you’re probably already dancing.
This is for all your horribly misguided friends who haven’t taken on their sacred duty as human beings and just started dancing already. All your desperate pleas and your beautifully weaved descriptions of how nice a wooden dance floor smells are met with increasingly freaked out hostility? Fear not, the Jazz Monkey is here with more arguments that you can cram down Couch Potato Sam’s ears as to why dancing is absolutely, without questions, the best activity in the history of ever. I have a 100% guarantee on this article: if your friends don’t jump in their dancing shoes after hearing this, you get all your money back, no questions asked.
#4 – It will raise your social awareness
A lot of people will read this headline and go “Aaaaaaaaah!!!” (because the kind of people who immediately jump to conclusions at the simple reading of a title are the same people who shout insanities in the Fox News newscast room.) “No surprise here, you novelty-lacking soggy sack of sperm whale crap! It’s obvious that dancing will enable you to meet attractive people from whatever sex you’re attracted to!”
This only speaks volume about your base obsession with various forms of mashing genitalia into other genitalia, though, and you should be ashamed of yourself.
It’s absolutely true that you’ll meet plenty of people who you’ll be more than eager to play clean-the-palate with, regardless of the gender. And if that’s your sort of thing, shit! More power to you. But we know better here at Jazz Monkey than to call upon your primary instincts: we’re talking about advanced social skills that will last you a lifetime.
Whether you’re taking a class or going out social dancing, there are several, sometimes unspoken rules held by general consensus.
Learning to navigate that sometimes complex maze of individuals will give you invaluable tools in all ways of life. You’ll learn to actually cope with people in various situations, whether you’re dealing with co-workers or bosses or fellow butt beer-chug afficionados, or trying to negotiate a loan at the bank for that sweet jaccuzzi-BBQ combo you’ve always wanted in your backyard.
Obviously, partner dancing is great for shy types, because it enables you to approach people in an (almost) non-awkward way and creates an environment where it’s perfectly okay to touch a stranger and interact with them for a few minutes without the tremendous pressure of actually having something to say. Eventually, you can build up social confidence and – gasp! – chat them up, but it’s far from required, and that’s the pure beauty of it. You don’t have to talk to people – the only thing people expect you to do in a dance class is to dance.
It’s also great because you’ll get out of your normal social circles. At some point you get fed up with the so-called “bar scene”, or get caught in a rut of always hanging out with the same boring work colleagues.
Through dancing, you’ll meet and engage people from all different walks of life – enriching your social vocabulary in the process, and discovering how people communicate outside of your immediate vicinity.
Communication and non-verbal cues are at the profound heart of most dances, solo or not, and even if you take up something as marginal as Irish soft shoe tap dancing, you’ll still be part of a community that will enable you to hone your social skills in a very, very forgiving environment – dancers are generally very enthusiastic about beginners and will be more than happy to show you the ropes if you demonstrate even the shadow of an interest. You’ll quickly be a part of a little social club. The mere fact that you’re interested in dancing is often enough to get you in the tightest circles.
Because yeah. We didn’t press the point due to our extraordinary class and restraint, but several studies found that by default a dancer with moxy is sexier and more attractive than a non-dancer… Even when they don’t even have a fucking face.
As a final point, seriously, if you tell yourself you don’t need to work on your social awareness… That’s exactly why you should work on your social awareness.
#3- It will transform your body into the holy temple it’s meant to be
This one is a popular argument, but it sometimes assumes that you have to dedicate several millions of hours a week to dancing in order to get healthier. We’re not even talking about being able to do this:
But sometimes simply this:
is entirely sufficient to make a huge difference in your physical well-being.
Most people don’t want to be super-athletes and hurl girls through the air or be able to spin on their head for 45 hours, although it’s thoroughly fucking awesome: they’re just looking for an activity that is fun and will help them manage their health at the same time. Unfortunately, most activities people would consider “fun” don’t engage a lot of actual muscles, or even something as basic as moving about.
Our society tends to equate any form of “exercise” with “skull-crunching misery”. Going to the gym or jogging is a chore of epic proportions for most people, while eating cheetos in the sofa watching Seinfeld re-runs is the epitome of ball-tickling bliss. But why make exercise a huge pine branch in the ass? Dancing is right there for you!
Most dance forms are not only incredibly fun, they also have extremely varied levels of physical commitment. If you try your hand at ballroom, there are several mellow dances to adopt (fox-trot, slow waltz, rumba) while you can avoid dances that demand a little more cardio (rock’n roll, viennese waltz). Swing dance not only has a wide range of dances ranging from neck-breaking speed Collegiate Shag to chill-out Blues, but also a variety of tempos at which those forms can be danced, meaning you can choose to dance only a few slow-tempo songs, or go balls-to-the-wall and exit a dance night so soaking wet that you’ll be able to provide water supplies for a small hobo population.
And for those who are really thriving to push their limits, good news! In most dance forms, there’s almost no limits to the level you can attain: most dance schools offer not only classes, but private programs, performance programs, and competition programs.
#2- It will turn you into a genius
Your brain is eager to learn stuff – whether you like it or not. That’s why so many of us like to over-analyze the last Packers’ game, argue on end about fictional characters’ motives or memorize the 300+ types of weapons in Skyrim and their respective attributes. That’s your brains (the most complex object in the goddamn known universe) tricking you into keeping them healthy, and reminding you they’re the only reason why we’re not still shitting our non-existent pants in the jungle, hiding from giant man-eating bears.
OK, you probably won’t be solving Fermat’s Conjecture after your first class of belly dancing, but moving your booty to the beat, surprisingly, ends up being one of the best ways to fend off dementia in old age. Out of all the hobbies studied, reading fended off dementia by 35%; doing crossword puzzles fought off the demons of Crazyland by a commendable 47%; but dancing was the Neo of all of those, Jesse Owens-ing it with ease at at 76%. Riding bicycles didn’t do jack shit to prevent dementia, which is unfortunate, because the bicycle/dementia combo is definitely one we’d like to avoid. Neither will playing golf keep you from becoming a drunk old lunatic… But that’s probably because that’s what dunk old lunatics do anyway.
So if you want to spend your golden days getting confused about whether or not the person in front of you is Abraham Lincoln or your grand-daughter Linda (all the while, in reality, you’re just conversing with a coat rack by that point), keep on… Otherwise, start dancing.
Yes, this is Susan Boyle dancing Gangnam Style. You’re welcome, Internet.
You thought it was all? Saving your sanity for your old days? Fuck no!
Turns out, dancing can make you smarter right about now.
Researchers found out that dance helped problem-solving by both helping your divergent and convergent thinking. Convergent thinking is when you’re asked to provide the one correct answer to a question, such as “what’s 4+4”, or “what’s the difference between kinky and perverted”.
Divergent thinking, on the contrary, is all about freely exploring different solutions to a problem (such as “how can I get a live chicken at a discount”). What’s interesting is that different types of dancing seem to encourage either divergent or convergent thinking – generally speaking, dance forms with a strong emphasis on improvisation will help with divergent thinking, and, on the contrary, when a lot of choreography is involved, it will improve your convergent thinking. So you’re struggling with finding a thesis topic? Try some contemporary free jazz! Looking to solve a nightmarish logarithm? How about a little coutry line dance?
#1- It will bring you balance
Put your average high school jock into a dance class, and he’ll be little more than a blubbering idiot trying desperately to remember a simple sequence of steps.
Dancing helps you precisely because it challenges your current perception of the world, and of the people in it. Whether you’re the CEO of Disney or a garbage collector in Buttfuck, Massachussetts, dancing will completely transform the playing field: you’ll witness people soaring like space rocket-equipped majestic falcons while you’re still mumbling a few malformed basic steps… And you know what? That’s called character-building! And it’s crucial to your well-being. Even advanced dancers will be mind-boggled by the occasional beginner who can seemingly do it all without their forehead vein exploding in a fountain that would give Dexter a boner: it’s great to be around so many people with so many different talents. Challenging is essential to personal growth – challenges, and how to overcome them, are what made humankind what it is today, and while you can bitch and moan all you want about how much we suck as a species, it’s hard to argue against the awesomeness of Hot Pockets.
And through that, you will start to notice your own strengths, wich is a truly empowering thing. Most studies agree that dancing will boost your self-esteem and absolutely morph you into a suave, Don Draper-like god of a human being.
Dance will not only make you confront your fears of failure, rejection and helplessness…
…It will also give you the tools necessary to slay those pesky self-created dragons guarding the dungeons of your personal, professional and social life.
There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that dancing has saved me from a mediocre, emotionally and socially crippled life at best. It has made me both the hero of my own life, and kept me humble throughout it all (despite my multiple humorous claims to my own magnificence). It has made me go to pretty dark places, made me question myself tremendously, and still challenges and refines my perceptions of the world on a daily basis.
Not many people would describe me as “introvert”, although that’s exactly what I was for most of my life. I love this aspect of myself now, but I passionately hated myself for a long time, and it was extremely inconvenient: when I was 15 years-old I would secrete waves of nervous sweat at the simple idea of buying a pack of gum at the convenience store. Dancing helped me bring balance in my life by forcing me to interact first on the dance floor… then off. Then teaching made me take the huge step of speaking in front of people, and now I even MC’ed at a couple of events – the biggest challenge of it all. Few people would dedscribe me as sickeningly shy. Dancing took me there, step-by-step.
I’m still a little worried before every class, and huge crowds in tight spaces still make me extremely uncomfortable, but it’s 1000% more manageable than before. So yeah: don’t expect to blossom into a magnificent social butterfly overnight, and don’t worry about it: with practice comes perfect!
“But what if I’m an extrovert,” I hear you say because obviously your webcam is on?
Well, you can bring balance to the Force through dancing because it is very challenging on both sides of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Dancing will help you connect to yourself, discover yourself, and know yourself. Very few activities engage the body and mind on such an intense, personal level, and if you’re used to exteriorize EVERYTHING, dancing will help you bridge the gap between your inner-self and other people. It will make you close your eyes, center, and concentrate on that damn movement for hours on end. It will demand focus and discipline. It will make you understand many things about yourself as, sooner or later, introspection and self-betterment is a crucial part of becoming a better dancer… Which is why, even in a day and age where there’s an almost literal infinity of stuff to do at our fingertips, dancing is still one of the most popular, accessible and wholesome activities on Earth.
Dancing is all around us. We’ve been dancing for tens of thousands of years. It’s in our genes.
And in the spirit of the Christmas/Holidays/Festivus season (fuck if I care), dancing is the greatest gift you could give yourself.
When not getting all philosophical up in this biatch, Zack can be found at Swing ConneXion in Montreal.