Come Dance With Me

There are times I don’t know where I am going until I get there. This is one of those times. In response to a request for possible coping strategies I seem to have put together a series on coping through lifestyle choices. So far I have done animals, nature and socializing. I use all of them to try to keep me on an even keel.

I am going to do one more life style choice: exercise. It is a coping strategy I use regularly. This post will focus on the benefits of one of my passions. That is dance.

I took dance lessons at 3. I suspect I had been dancing around the house for months before that.  Thus the lessons. Anyway, my recital piece was “Katie the Kangaroo”.  Maybe some of you know it.

When I was 7 my cousin was 12 and getting ready to go to dances. Since she needed a ‘practice dummy’ to work out her moves, I was drafted. It was the early 60s and I learned to jitterbug, twist, stroll, etc.

I impressed some of the ‘big boys’ with my moves but I was not going to dance with them!

When I got to junior high I found a dance partner. He was one of two black young men in my class. Being a child of the 20s and 30s my mother would ask me if I had danced with any white boys. Nope. Didn’t really want to. The white boys were awful dancers!

So we danced to rhythm and blues and ‘da funk’ in my teens. In my 20s I had what I call my ‘delightfully wasted youth’ in the discos. Three and four evenings a week I put on my 4-inch stiletto heels and my handkerchief-hemmed skirt and went off to the clubs. We danced. [Lin/Linda back again.  By the time I met Sue, she’d been dancing for some time.  I can attest to the fact that she is an amazing dancer since she ‘dragged’ me to some of those discos.  I can also attest to the fact that I am NOT a good dancer but she made the experience a hell of a lot of fun!]

A few years back I was delighted to find out dance was making a comeback! Fitness cardio-dance had taken a Latin beat. I have been in Zumba classes for about 8 years.

More recently I found a totally kickass hip hop class. It is a Japanese guy teaching black-inspired dance to a bunch of white women! I love it!

Yes, I love dance. But should a 62 year old woman be in a hip hop class? My answer is yes!

Dance is good for you physically. You improve cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone. Balance – a biggie when you are not seeing very well – is likewise improved. Lots of physical benefits.

Dance is fun! It is also otherwise good for you emotionally and cognitively. A four-month study (ideals.Illinois.edu) compared seniors being taught ballroom dance to a group of walkers. The dancers did better in reasoning, visual processing, working memory, as well as all of the psycho-social variables and sleep patterns. What were the psycho-social variables? They included anxiety, subjective feelings of well-being, and stress.

Does it matter what type of dance you do? Not a bit. Many YMCAs and community centers have Zumba Gold but it does not have to be Zumba. Ask around and you may find country line dancing, round and square dancing, clogging, whatever.

Bop until you drop! I intend to.

Next: IT TAKES A VILLAGE

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