Why You Should Be Dancing!
What made me start dancing?
In case you are not aware, I have been dancing in some fashion for about two years now. When I first began, I had no clue what I wanted. I started out aimlessly trying to find something I would connect with, and could never stick to a single style. I tried two step, salsa, tango, night club two step, east coast swing, and of course the ever so popular line dancing. While I knew I absolutely wanted to dance, I became very unsure as to which style I wanted to invest my energy to. Randomly, I would come across West Coast Swing by accident. During this time I had the pleasure of watching Jason and Yvonne Wayne. I cannot tell you how enamored I become while watching them “strut” around the floor; the music, the moves, Jason’s attention to detail and where Yvonne was, Yvonne’s ability to non-verbally listen to Jason and do what he wanted her to do. Holy smokes they lit the place up, and to put it simple it was HOT!
I come from a background full of sports and the outdoors. A 16 year football career, weightlifting since I was twelve, baseball, basketball, wrestling, Boy Scouts, flipping houses, personal training, hunting, hiking, fishing… I was the stereotypical American Jock and Tim Taylor of the 90’s. Dancing was never on my plate, neither was any other form of art or performance based activity. Was that by choice? Absolutely not, I always wanted to learn how to dance. I was always too shy and timid to go out and embarrass myself, let alone actually communicate with another human female. I would then turn 21 and alcohol, hip hop/house music, and raunchy young behavior would solve those issues temporarily for me… until a woman would ask me to dance with a style of formality, leading to a casual retreat while playing it off like it was a “too cool for school” idea.
Fast forward to the spring of 2014… and to sum it up, was a dark time for me. My mother was sick, dying, and I had quit everything to become her caregiver… Shortly before she lost all ability to walk, talk, and perform other daily tasks that all of us take advantage of while healthy; we managed to watch an entire movie together. I say managed because she would always fall asleep or obtain a headache while watching for too long. We watched the film “Shall We Dance” with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez, it was wonderful and quite comedic! During the film my mom uttered that she wanted to dance like that some day; two days later I discovered West Coast Swing by mere accident thanks to Angeline Lucia DeGeorge of DioAmore Dance in Vacaville, CA.
I would complete a single month of classes with Angeline before my mother hit a downward spiral and would pass away the very next month. I discontinued dancing immediately and would not pick up it up again until 9 months later, after I had relocated from Napa to the Sacramento Area for a fresh start. With this fresh start I made sure to continue on with my promise to my mother, that I would learn how to dance and be sure to take her out some day. This is when I stumbled into the Spotlight Ball Room with Jason and Yvonne at West Coast Swing University of Sacramento (now Fairfield, CA). I went to class every week and a year later I am dancing 2-3 nights a week and taking private lessons on top of it. What started as a simple worry of an embarrassment, turned into a promise, which has also grown into a major passion of mine.
Dancing shouldn’t be considered as such an intimate activity for couples or people that “like” each other. It isn’t only for competitors. It surely isn’t just about your two left feet and music. It’s a wonderful collaboration of physical activity, balance, social interaction, and mental stimulation. Dancing can enhance your life in so many ways through improved health, increased self-confidence, improved mood, a stronger and clearer self-expression, as well as reducing stress and increasing your ability to relax and have fun!
Improved Health: When you dance you use various energy systems, your central nervous system is firing, and your muscles or constantly engaging in order to perform whichever move you’re about to step your way through. Flexibility, mobility, core-strength, core-endurance, cardiovascular health, balance, and proprioceptive enhancement are all areas of exercise science and that you will encounter often while dancing. Next in line with my series of blogs for dance I will help separate each individual topic and explain further as to how each one can become a benefit to your abilities in dance.
Confidence: If you can open your mind, have fun with this, and commit to learning any style of dance; I promise you will see increased focus, increased motivation, an increase in passion for living, and added confidence to improve your abilities as a dancer. It will also carry over to all other activities and social engagements within your lifestyle!
Self-Expression: BE YOURSELF! I cannot tell you how many times I get the phrase “you are so different than how I assumed you would be as a person,” by new combers and strangers at other dance events. My little kid nature, big heart, and ridiculous goofy side all come out when I dance… if you close your mind, hide from your true-self, and cannot let your guard down eventually; then you will not enjoy this. Dance provides an emotional outlet so that you can express your feelings through your body movements. Dancing will bring out, improve upon, and strengthen your ability to permanently use these expressive qualities even when you are not dancing.
Social: You will meet so many people and friends along your dancing journey. Classes, various studios, bars, events, concerts, you name it! People love to dance and are always looking for their next partner… heck the newest thing is to join an airport dancing group and announce where you’re headed to next, that way you can connect and dance with someone while waiting for hours for to board your flight! Lessons are also a simple and low-pressure way to meet people… screw Tinder, Craigslist, POF, and whatever online app you’re currently using. Go Dance!
Relaxation: In today’s fast-paced world, we sometimes forget to take a moment for ourselves. Dancing provides an enjoyable escape from your normal daily routine. I for one cannot do meditation or quiet forms of Yoga. I need movement to relax unless I’m laying around on my couch from exhaustion! Dancing helps me get out of my typical work environment, leave the stressors at home, and just have fun!
Fun: Dancing is a great way to add excitement to your life. Although learning to dance takes concentration and dedication, you will be constantly surrounded by inspiring and uplifting people who make learning a rewarding experience that much more fun.
What do you think? Did you even manage to read this far into the blog? Have I inspired you to get out there and go pull a Kevin Bacon on us? COME ON, let’s go! 🙂
Stay tuned for my next set of blocks as I continue to chop of specific exercise themes within dance. You will be surprised at how effective this activity can be in helping you become a healthier version of you!
Brock Daniels MS, CSCS, RKC
Next Level Strength and Conditioning
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