I like many people found my initial experience of dancing and any form thereof to be both embarrassing and uncomfortable; you know the drill you’re at your first school dance when you’re 8 years old and you find this strange but moving emotion of awkwardness and excitement rush over you. You feel the compulsion to join in with everyone and dance to the usual cheesy disco tunes of the 70′s and 80′s but for some reason find it difficult to join in. Sometimes you pluck up the courage by your friends grabbing your arm; or you suddenly in the corner of your eye notice the girl you secretly like and observe her taking fleeting glances in your direction, motivated by her glances and your own as yet undeveloped emotional desires take that first brave step onto the dance floor towards her.
Your own experience may or may not have been like this example, cryptowatchdaily perhaps you always found it easy to get up and dance and shake your body in sometimes what is best described as “daddy dancing”. We know that some of us have a natural affinity to dancing be it limbo dancing, salsa, samba or belly dancing, you just have the ability to do it without the usual social anxieties and deterrents most of us experience around dance. If you were like me back in the day the only way you would see me shake or otherwise move my body on the dance floor was through the use of emboldening agents like alcohol!! I however more recently was motivated by other factors to get up and start dancing and enjoy myself unabated by social awkwardness and poor confidence that had previously blighted my experience of dance and have learnt to establish new social opportunities and improve my health through dance.
At the time I first started to become interested in dance I was looking for several things, first to improve my health through dance and to establish new social opportunities. I was advised that dancing is a great way to improve your fitness and also a good way to fight stress and tension and this struck a rather strong cord with me as I was unfit, lacking physical exercise and feeling the physical effects of a busy work life and having a poor social life. I also considered myself to be overweight and lacking any tangible muscle tone and thought “weight loss through dance” yeah that must be possible! I remember watching a documentary about dancing and you know what I noticed? That the people taking part were so fit and in shape and that all the dancers were toned and the juxtaposition of them and myself was stark and I wanted what they had and moreover what they had achieved, fitness through dance.
Another aspect of dancing that appealed was the social component, that making friends through dance was yet another possible consequence of dancing. One thing that was noticeable from the dance documentary was that the dancers were all good close friends and there was a strong sense of social connection amongst them, they were clearly enjoying the shared passion of dance. Have you ever noticed this about dance? That it is actually very social and people do enjoy themselves immensely and you can indeed improve your health by dancing, by this I mean not just physically but also emotionally.
After battling my own social worries and low motivation I decided to take that jump off the cliff and into the ever flowing tides of change, as sometimes you just have to make that change in your life! I started my path of discovery by joining a local Salsa group and boy how nervous was I? Yeah it was tough going for the first time believe me but I just kept thinking “Do you want to improve your health through dancing?”, “Do you want to make friends by dancing?”. The answer to these thoughts was a big and emphatic YES!! I found the first couple of sessions both enjoyable and very social and discovered I was able to make friends by dancing on a weekly basis and found my fitness improved too, plus I noticed that as the weeks went by my dance fitness improved incrementally which helped me keep up in the sessions.
Naturally I had to overcome some embarrassment and shyness to begin with and found some old bad memories of dancing at the school disco occasionally slipped in and out of my head but I was determined to make it work and quickly sort to quell such negative thoughts. Making new friends was great and having a solid social platform was definitely what I needed at the time and guess what? I also began to lose weight and I also found this encouraged me to diet better and eat more healthily and my overall sense of well-being improved too which was fantastic.
Health through dance? Dance fitness? Making friends by dance? The answer to these is a resounding and heartfelt yes and it has changed my life beyond what I ever thought possible at the time and I am more than OK with that.