social dancing

The Great Benefits of Social Dancing

1. What could we term “social dancing”? 

Any dancing activities where partners are in direct contact with each others can be considered social dancing. Such dances include Salsa, bolero, rumba, chachacha, etc… Generally speaking a male and female partner join each other to dance together, and in some social dancing more than 2 partners dance together (Rueda de Casino for example). 
We could also term the activity dance networking, since people generally befriend each other on the dance floor. Salsa dancing for example, is a great way to meet new people while having fun. These social dancing are safer in their environment than dance clubs and bars; because they tend to reunite people who share similar mindset. Since most of these dance activities happen in a dance studio before hitting a bar, people tend to know each other beforehand. That’s extremely useful, especially if you are a beginner and do not feel comfortable all by yourself. 

2. Why Social Dancing could do great for businesses

In another life, I used to work for multi-national companies that always had some sort of team building activities. Anyone who had such experiences probably remember the feeling of being somehow monitored during these activities. The monitoring, as subtle as it might be, is there and if you toe the line, even a little, you are reminded of the time where you did not behave according to the “rules”. The negative effect of such activities is that you never really get the best out of people because they come with a suspicious mindset. That in turn render the whole team building session completely useless. I had had time where people who went out of these gathering completely relieved that it was over.
Another issue with the activities offered is that, many times they don’t address the key solution for people to communicate and therefore work together, namely to break distance between them.
Social dancing, on the other end could rectify the whole process in one go. 

2.1. Social dancing for team building

Just take a look at the following Rueda de Casino show. The partners work all together to create a choreography that shows unity. Individually, everyone gets away with something, which is to have fun and work to one purpose under the pressure of spectators. As for the group, it is directly supported by the fact that each individual finds a common interest in participating in the event.
The other key point of this example is the physical contact between partners. The barriers is broken so that everyone is in the others “personal space”. Not only that, but it is accepted by each dancer who realise that it is socially acceptable to be that close to another human being. Just imagine, you stand that close to someone in an office or in an uncrowded train. Chances are you will receive complaints for misbehaviour.

2.2. Social dancing for networking

Another positive aspect of the example I gave previously is what happens after the dance is over. In almost 99% of the cases I witness, people who danced together ended-up exchanging with one another. Social dancing breaks down this protective barrier we put around us and allow us to communicate at a “lower level” one where the true personality of an individual shine.
I used to think companies knew best when they used to task HR to organise team building activities. I now know they are basically clueless. One might say “people need training to be able to perform such dance” and my answer is “it is easier to get people who have fun to train together than those who don’t, and social dancing is all about fun”.
When we think of network system we tend to think a of spider web where every elements are connected to each other. Just take a close look at the picture below. Do you see anything that looks like the creation of a web?

social dancing with Casino rueda dance

3. Social dancing to find love

Well, love is not the only thing you can find on such dance floor. Friendship are created there too, since; as I mentioned earlier people tend to communicate with each other after they danced. I witnessed the creation of plenty of couples on social dancing nights. Some of them lasted the short-term period of those who caught the fever of hot dances such as salsa. Others ended-up in marriages. There is such a strong level of communication happening at a subconscious level between partners, that no words need to be exchanged. Dances such as Salsa are the types of dance that really allow people to find each other in a relaxed atmosphere.

4. Social dancing to fight depression

Mental health issue is a big topic these days. While we all have access to billions of people directly, the connection that exemplified humanity seems to go to a waste at a dangerously fast pace. The feeling of loneliness is therefore accrued and that can lead to depression. Social dancing is the perfect medicine if you suffer from this issue. For one you will meet people who all have the same objective, which is to have a good time. Moreover, you are likely to meet someone with whom you can share things with and become friends with. Finally, do not underestimate the physical activities of some social dancing. You are trying to move your body at a rhythm that can go fast, while at the same time exercising your brain to handle space, time and one or more partners. In some cases, the dance activity is such that it is harder than going to the gym.

5. What you should not do in Social dancing?

It might seem obvious, but occasionally you can see misbehaviour from men…and women which should be avoided. 

5.1. Don’t refuse to dance with someone just because you are better…you are not

When I first started to dance salsa, I used to go out and ask ladies to dance. Many times, some women would start few seconds with me then just break away and leave. That was because I did not know how to dance and I did not make them “shine” wild enough. Of course, I used to think to myself “you just watch one day”, and of course as I became the great dancer that I am the situation changed drastically. However, unlike these ladies, I never turned down someone who asked me to dance and that, no matter her level. As a matter of fact, I believe a good dancer knows how to adapt him or herself to the opposite partner. Failure to do so is a sign of lack of maturity. In my opinion this should be avoided, especially since you were once in this person shoes. And it’s because a dance partner did not turn you down that your level and confidence improved.

5.2. Hunting for sex

From a man’s perspective; the key NONO is to try and go on a sexual hunt. People are there to have fun dancing, whatever happens next happens, but dance is the order of the day. In all truth; and that’s why I recommend social dancing rather than nightclubs, these kinds of behaviour rarely happen. Moreover, since people tend to know each other, the misbehaving person gets blacklisted pretty quickly.

5.3. Space matters

Another point that applies to both sex is to be careful of the space you occupy when you dance. Men especially should be on the lookout for flying elbows, pointy shoes etc…, from other dancers. People who are new to dancing might not have a good control of space and it’s easy to get small injuries.

5.4. Be shy

That’s another one you should not do in social dancing. Know that you will get rejected by silly dancers. That’s actually great, because it means once you find one that accept to dance with you he or she will be a very good partner for you to dance with. I have danced countless of times with female dancers with little dancing skills, but they came back over and over because I provided them a feeling of safety and I made sure they enjoyed the dance to the fullest of capacity. I even “tricked” dancers into believing they could dance. If you have enough control, it’s possible to guide someone, who has not dancing skills but her will, to a great time.

6. Is social dancing good for anyone?

The answer is pretty obvious and is yes. Unfortunately, many people after a certain age become shy and are afraid that their age could play a factor in their rejection by others. The reality is quite different. Most people who practice social dances look for the same thing. Meet new people and do a fun activity. In Latin America, there is no such a thing as age class for dancing. Old people dance with youngsters, men dance between themselves, women dance with their dad etc…if you approach the activity with the same mind set, then you are really a dancer. 

7. The untold story of social dancing

I mentioned that there is a subliminal level of communication when people dance with each other. Dance, especially African dances, were forms of communications or worship. Some dance to honour the god of dance and seduction, other for the god of earth … Brazilian slaves used dance to hide their martial art practices. Not everyone realises how powerful this tool is.

8. Safe environment 

One of the positive advantages of the different forms of social dancing is the environment in which they are practiced. From the studio to the bars, dancers are generally speaking very polite and well behaved. The complexity of this type of dance attracts people who want to learn a new skill. It therefore shuts the door down on people with different mind-set. Quickly enough, you are able to meet people and form groups who can then go out together. The organisers of social dance events are themselves dancers and are very wary of their reputation since most of their customers are dance students.

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