How You Can Learn to Dance (and Why You Probably Should)
I started dancing in my early 20s, about the time my peers were pairing off into their chosen careers. While my 20-something peers didn’t condone dancing, I grew up in a town where football was king, and pick-up trucks pulling donuts in the High School parking lot was considered an excellent form of after school entertainment. To say that a man dancing was socially unacceptable is to mistakenly called getting covered in rotten eggs (which also happened) a slightly uncomfortable experience.
But my humiliation around dance didn’t stop with the lack of my peers’ judgement. I’m pretty sure I was my own worst critic in my first ballet class, surround by beautiful, experienced ballet women, wearing corduroy and completely unaware of the french techniques being described. Somehow I survived my childhood, and my college ballet class mortification and have only danced more every week in the ten years since.
I share these early experiences so that you, the reader, might understand that you don’t have to be born in a culture that accepts dancing, to be able to dance. I hear regularly, when asked what I do, some version of admiration followed by self-denial. “That’s great that you dance so much. I couldn’t ever, I have two left feet.” This is my manifesto and the message is simple: you, too, can dance. And you probably should.
Doubters, read this first:
- Dance has always been around, is here to stay.
- The first documented evidence of dance is some 9 thousand years old
- Dance can be found as an element in every major and minor modern religion
- Every country in the world has some native form of dance, most have many
- 17 million people around the world dance Zumba each week
- Videos of dance are more likely to be shared virally on social media than any other single topic
- Whether you are approaching dance from a business, health, financial, social or dating perspective dance has something important to offer.
Beginners Start Here
The way I learned to dance need not be the way you go about beginning. I don’t recommend getting egged, or doing ballet wearing corduroy. Instead, start simpler.
The 7 Simple Steps To Dance
- Make sure you are alone in a room. No one is watching you.
- Turn on a song that you know well and enjoy
- Close your eyes
- No, really: close your eyes
- Listen to the music
- Begin moving in any way to the music that you hear
- Pay attention to how you are moving – both how it feels and what you are actually doing
Congratulations, you just danced.
I am organizing Design for Dance, a conference put by Stanford University’s BJ Fogg and the Persuasive Technology Lab. If you are interested, sign up for my mailing list and I’ll keep you apprised of the details!