As much as I love to rock out in my car or wiggle around in the kitchen while I cook, I have always been absolutely sure that I cannot dance. The worry turned into flat-out certainty when my college boyfriend introduced me to his mother, a dance teacher, and I took a Waltz class with her. I stepped on his feet, her feet, somehow my own feet, and I never really tried to dance formally again.
That all changed a few months ago. When my friend, who happens to be a fantastic dance teacher, specializing in Scottish Highland Dance, asked me to come join one of her beginner’s classes. I was nervous— I’m a not terribly fit, rather uncoordinated grown woman who has avoided all dancing since that ill-fated Waltz class.
I was sure I would be dressed wrong or knock over an entire row of classmates or fall down and hurt myself. Plus, my friend is so elegant, even when she’s just walking around in sweatpants grabbing a coffee, that I was sure any class she was teaching was sure to be out of my league.
And you know what? I don’t think these are abnormal fears to feel. I think the majority of people who don’t think they can dance feel that way because someone laughed at them once or because they don’t think they look like how a dancer should look. Or even just because group classes are so weird, no matter what it’s for, especially if you are going by yourself. The first time you do *anything* is always a little bit awkward, ad doing it in front of complete strangers is even worse.
I had fun. I absolutely loved being around a large group of people who *also* thought they were terrible at dancing. We were a group of people having fun in our bodies, every shape and size and ability just rocking out and having a blast. And that is why I think there are six very good reasons for you, for ANYONE, to take a dance class.
1. It’s a fun way to express yourself.
Drawing, painting, singing, writing— those are all great ways to express yourself. But you know what? So is dancing. It’s so freeing to just move to the music and let your body tell you what it wants to do, instead of your brain telling tour body how to move. You’ll get a chance to think thoughts and focus on yourself in a new way.
2. It helps you connect with your body.
Speaking of focusing on yourself in a new way, think of the amazing mind body connection you’re going to foster. If you do the same routine every day, you probably know how your body feels in your normal movements, but dancing gives you a chance to interact with your arms and legs and head and knees and every other part in new and unique ways. You may not even be aware of all the amazing ways your body can move. Growing up, I was pretty over weight and I felt disconnected from my actual body because I was basing how I thought I could move on what other people *told me* I could do. What?? Dancing was great because I got to see that maybe I was so clumsy at the dance lesson years ago because I was limiting myself to what *other* people saw me as. There is something so powerful about learning to move your body in a new way and not paying any attention to your previous expectations/limitations.
3. You get to make great new friends.
Seriously. After an evening of letting down your inhibitions and getting sweaty, those strangers you were so nervous about dancing in front of at the start of the evening are now your new best friends. You’ll go get dinner after class or drinks before. You’ll sign up for new classes together or start inviting each other over to hang out. And the best part? These new friends don’t know you “can’t dance” or that you “get nervous” in public. Having new friends that don’t know you’re “limitations” means they are going to help push you to do more and more new things. And after you braved a dance class, it’s going to be so much easier to do new things.
4. It’s super scary.
Wait. What? Is that a plus? Did I just write that scary things are good things? Yes. I totally did. Like I just said about new friends above, doing new things is scary, but the more new things you do, the more things you know you are capable of which, in turn, makes all future new things less scary. That’s just math! (I kid, I kid).
But really, if you are normally scared of trying new things, like taking the bus alone, applying for a job you really want, or moving out on your own, going to a dance class is a great first “scary” thing to get under your belt. Let’s face it: there are hugely scary things you have to do as an adult. Things that will take guts and perseverance.
A dance class, scary as it might be for those of us who are introverts, is good practice for all the other big things coming. After all, you can always say to yourself: I went to Salsa dancing by myself and I made friends and had a great time, so I can totally go to this job interview and know it will turn out well!
5. It’s a great stress reliever.
So, if you’ve been super busy doing scary things, like applying for jobs or figuring out how to balance your checkbook, you’re going to need a fun way to relax and calm down and generally work your nerves out. And physical exercise is such a great way to relieve stress. Exercise produces endorphins and endorphins make us happy. We could all use a little more happiness in our lives!
6. And finally, It’s great exercise.
Obviously, if it’s releasing endorphins and making you giggle and make new friends, it’s already pretty fabulous. But it’s also exercise. And whether you spend most of your day in a chair or if you are always running around, your body seriously loves to exercise. It loves moving in new ways and stretching out.
Dance is great because no matter what your physical abilities are, you can always enjoy the music, even if it’s just bobbing your head or waving your arms as you see fit. Any time you exercise, you are making your body stronger and who doesn’t want to be able to move through the world a little easier? You’ll feel energized at the end of every class and ready to try some new things!
Dance can be therapy, dance can be pure exercise, dance can be competitive, and dance can simply be fun.