The most addictive thing I’ve ever done

I spent the past weekend at an amazing blues dance workshop taught by Lucky Skillen and hosted by Swing Out Central. Spending a whole weekend dancing is such an intense way to learn, and it gave me a huge boost to my confidence, skills and understanding of blues.

The workshop also left me craving more. On Sunday evening at the social wind-down, despite my aching calves and exhausted body, I just did not want to stop dancing! I believe partner dancing is incredibly addictive and incredibly good for you because the combination of listening to music, physical exercise and human touch triggers your brain/body to release feel-good hormones like oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Some of the many benefits of these chemicals include pain relief, better immune function, feeling happy and increased empathy.

If everybody would dance there would be no war

— Dawn Hampton

Lucky finished the weekend with “micro-blues” workshop. The simplest way to describe micro-blues is this: We hugged! Of course, there was a lot more to it than that. We started by adjusting our breathing to follow the music (when we were leading) or our partner’s breath (when we were following), then gradually added in very small/slow movements.

Here’s the interesting thing about micro-blues. One would normally expect spending 5 minutes hugging a near-stranger to feel exceedingly awkward. Instead the experience was soothing and meditative. Because we had our eyes shut and our attention focused on the music and the subtle movements of our partner’s body, we were able to reap the benefits of human touch without feeling our normal apprehension about prolonged touch.

So if you’ve never tried partner dancing before, give it a go! I’m a big fan of blues and lindy hop, but any partner dancing involves music, exercise and touch, and will give you the same sort of benefits I’ve described here.


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