Who knew that social dancing, like Country Swing dancing or Salsa dancing, can actually make you smarter? I sure didn’t until I did my research on the numerous benefits of social dancing over the last 20 years in my career as a professional social ballroom dance instructor.
It’s so easy to underestimate what is required to be a great social dancer. As dancers, we apparently just prance around at night, letting go of all of our worries without a care in the world, right? Well, the part about letting go of your cares is true when you are dancing, mostly because of the need to concentrate on what you are doing. And the fun-factor? Well, that’s there too because social dancing is a blast, but getting back to how dancing makes you smarter, there’s a whole lot of split-second decision making in social dancing which contributes to a higher level of intelligence. It’s pretty cool to think that you can actually give your brain a work-out, making it sharper and more responsive, all by social ballroom dancing.
To quickly veer off track for a moment, it is important to clarify one thing. Many people ask, “What exactly is social ballroom dancing?”. That’s a great question! Ballroom dancing in general includes any dance that you do with a partner, from Latin dancing like Salsa and Bachata, to Swing dancing and Country Western dancing. If you’re physically connected to your dance partner, you’re “partner dancing” or “ballroom dancing”. The “social” aspect of it comes in to play when compared to competitive ballroom dancing, which is judged by professionals who have specific standards within each dance that a couple must abide by in order to be successful. Social ballroom dancing, on the other hand, is not meant to be judged. It is for the purpose of having fun with someone else at a Country bar or a Latin night club, as examples. Now that you know the difference, here’s more on social ballroom dancing, and how it makes you smarter…
As Jean Piaget, psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children as well as his theory of cognitive development once said, “Intelligence is what we use when we don’t already know what to do.” Unlike a tree that grows without thinking or an animal that makes its decisions based on instinct for the purpose of survival, we humans fortunately have the ability to think and reason. On the social dance floor, as I mentioned, quick decisions as a leader are required to keep you and your partner safe and having fun. Thinking about what move to do next means an you have to be in an in-the-moment frame of mind. That means that each time you go Country Two Step dancing, you are sharpening that noggin! How awesome is that?!
One would think that competitive ballroom dancing would do just the same, but with pre-planned choreography, the element of surprise and quick thinking is off the table. So, my conclusion is that if you want to “get smart”, learn to social dance! Done! 😉
There are many other added mental benefits to social dancing, from dramatically reducing stress to warding off dementia. In the New England Journal of Medicine report on aging and mental acuity, it was determined that dancing frequently offered the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical, including reading, doing crossword puzzles and bicycle riding. It was 76% more effective than all of these activities in keeping dementia at bay. So if you love social ballroom dancing for the pure fun of it, you will also be gaining some pretty cool side effects of it as you age, making social dancing the best hobby ever!
Do you want to be a confident social dancer? Our talented team at Dance FX Studios in the Phoenix East valley can help you to shine on any dance floor. Social dance lessons are great fun in addition to being healthy. Join us today and begin your exciting journey into social dancing.