If you know me from my social media accounts you’ll know that I probably am. I’m currently away at Centerparcs, while I was standing in a queue for coffee I found myself bouncing along to the music playing in the background, the Gladys Knight and The Pips version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine… infectious! I dance in supermarkets, in the park when I’m walking my dogs, in the kitchen while cooking, in my bedroom in the mornings, anywhere and everywhere, and sometimes I share the joy on Tiktok or Instagram.
I’ve always danced for my own pleasure
…since I was little girl and danced around the living room pretending to do ballet (I still do that sometimes too ssshhhhh!), then on to tap dance classes as a child and later for a brief while as an adult. In my teens and twenties i moved on to clubs, raves, discos and festivals, then after having my first two children my husband and I decided to learn Lindy Hop. It was never really about performance for me, it was always an emotional connection to music and a means of self expression.
Now I’m not drinking, the best way for me to ‘get out of my head’ and in to my body, is through music and movement.
My Lindy Hop dance skills were very much limited to the social dance floor, if I’d have started in my late teens or early twenties perhaps I would’ve taken it further but the taste I did have was delicious; it was pure joy. Dancing Lindy socially with a partner is like having a conversation without words, it’s playful and cheeky, it’s call and response. It’s matching and mirroring, leading and following…. all while bouncing along to a gorgeous rhythm (am I selling it? You really should try it!).
I love browsing through Lindy Hop Championship videos on YouTube and came across this one today which is such a great example. This is an improvised dance, un-choreographed and un-rehearsed so it’s a showcase for social dancers. In competitions like this you will dance with random partners and be rotated in heats. In the finals, you will randomly draw a partner and be judged as a couple. Look at the big smiles on these dancers faces and you know they are genuinely having so much fun, they’re aren’t smiling for the camera or as part of a performance, this is the pure joy of the dance coming out.
I learnt to dance in West London with Swingland, if your local to Acton, Balham, Hammersmith or Windsor, you can too! Here are details of the classes and workshops they offer https://www.swingland.com/ Martin is a great teacher and his style is authentic Savoy style Lindy, which originated in the 1920’s and 30’s Ballrooms of Harlem, New York.
Rhythm and movement are part of our DNA. Published studies suggest that long ago the ability to dance was linked to the ability to survive. That dancing was a way for our prehistoric ancestors to bond and communicate, particularly when times were tough. In fact scientists believe that early humans who had coordination and rhythm could have had an evolutionary advantage.
I’ve long known that dancing boosts all our natural happy hormones which is why its so good for mental health, this is backed up by various studies. In 2006 scientists compared the DNA of dancers to non dancers and found that the dancers shared 2 genes associated with a predisposition for good social communication and also had higher levels of serotonin.
If you’re interested in what specific types of dance can do, this article explains exactly how good dancing can be for brain health, including cognitive impairments such as dementia and parkinsons…
If you’ve made the positive and powerful decision to remove alcohol from you life and you haven’t quite found the sparkle and joy that a sober life offers, what can you add in?What can YOU sprinkle on top of your weekly routine that will add more flavour, more connection to yourself, your body and other people.
Experiment, try new things, it doesn’t have to be dancing, thats my thing. You get to discover yours, thats the joy of living a conscious sober life, we get to choose and we get to create a sober life we love so much, we don’t want to go back.