A while back I caught a repeat of the final episode in a 2019 Sky documentary which asked Why do we dance? If you get the chance to watch, do check it out. I found it really interesting to find out their reasons and whether these matched with my reasons for dancing. What are the reasons why people dance?
The premise was that people dance for 5 different reasons.
The key reasons why people dance
1. To belong
To be part of a community, a group with a common purpose like tribal dances, folk dances amd even modern jive – groups of likeminded people coming together to enjoy their style of dance.
2. Telling stories
Dance is one of the methods of communication within theatre, or putting across meaning. When we watch a show, or even just a soloist performing an improvised piece, there’s usually some kind of story or meaning behind it that they want to put across. Some contemporary pieces are more abstract, and we may not understand the story behind the piece, but the main reason for (in particular traditional) performances being put on, is to tell the story, and draw you into the reason for the dance.
Dance that questions, pushes boundaries and might portray social economic issues. A recent example could be Diversity’s Black Lives Matter performance that created a lot of further discussion around the issues.
4. For sex
Dancing to make connections, attract a partner, and challenge the norms. So many non dancers assume that dance partners are more than just dance partners. Of course the rumoured ‘Strictly Curse’ promotes that, and the fact that many dancers are in relationships with their dance partners.
It makes sense that so many relationships develop from a start of dancing together. After all, to dance with a partner means you have to get close.
Young people going out clubbing, many looking for a partner.
Seeing someone on the dancefloor who dances and moves well can certainly be attractive to people, even if off the floor you wouldn’t look twice at them.
Dance can also create a rush of endorphins, a high, so feeling that while dancing with a partner can create a great connection.
5. To touch the soul
Dance can connect us to music, to our partners, to a feeling you’re outside of the normal world. You can feel a dance deeply inside, whether dancing alone or with a group.
If dancing didn’t make you feel so absorbed in that point in time.
Didn’t make you let loose and relax.
Didn’t make you lose yourself when watching a beautiful show of dance and amazing body movement.
Fewer people would dance.
Reasons to modern jive
Modern jive certainly fulfils some of these 5 reasons for many dancers who go. There’s a great community, and generally everyone’s friendly and welcoming. After all, you’re all sharing the same love of dance. Even having not danced for a while, I’m still connected off the dance floor with some friends I met first time round I danced at salsa even before I started at Ceroc.
After dancing for so long, the high you get and the feeling when you have a great dance is what I seek out. Plus the challenge in learning more and improving while getting the connection with my dance partner. And discovering and enjoying music.
Although lots of people would be put off by sleazy dance partners just coming to dance nights looking to hook up, there are plenty of people who end up meeting future partners at modern jive.
I would also add fun to the 5. Obviously modern jive and other social dancing is different to traditional folk dancing, or professional dancers performing on stage. A huge part of social dancing, and certainly what keeps many people returning to dance, is how much fun it can be. If you’re having fun, it doesn’t feel like exercise either, which means there’s an additional reason.
But what do other dancers say about why they dance. Do their reasons fit within the 5 core reasons found in the Sky documentary?
What social dancers say is their reason to dance
Dance can help us find peace and enter altered states. It’s a spirit raiser
Dance is like a conversation. Communication without talking.
Argentine tango is sensual, it’s like foreplay, After all it’s danced hip to hip and heart to heart.
People get together to dance as one, moving as one, hearing as one.
Dancing is an intimate experience. It’s close, you can feel each other’s heart beating with the each movement.
It can feel intense when watching a couple dancing in their own bubble. Like you’re watching their experience from the outside and that you shouldn’t really be watching.
Why do you dance?