WEST COAST SWINGThe Top 5 Really Good Reasons For Dancing Too Much

by Mark Van Schuyver

Do you go to dance classes once or twice a week and invest all your spare cash on private lessons? Are you out social dancing three to five nights a week? Do you meet with your dance partners for practice sessions at lunch times? Are your Saturday and Sunday afternoons blocked out for two-hour practice sessions in the basement? Are your vacations built around dance conventions? If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you are in the serious-dancer category. Most likely, your spouse, mother, father, children, friends, church fellows, and work associates think you are a dance fanatic. When they ask you why you do it. What do you say?

Let’s look at another sport for help. For example mountain climbers have the same problem. "Why do you want to climb the Himalayan peak where eight other climbers froze to death last year son?"

"Well, uhhh, cause it’s there?" It is a lame answer that seems to work okay for mountain climbers because their loved-ones realize that they are fanatic but also know that they are crazy.. The typical dance fanatic responds to the "why do you do it" questions with a defensive, "cause it is fun d--n it. So there! Get off my back cause I am going anyway." This is at least as weak, maybe weaker than the mountain climber’s justification. Obviously we need better excuses.

For the sake of all us frustrated dance fanatics, I’ve listed the top five really good reasons for dancing too much. Think of them as the tenets of dance. Use them on everyone. Post them on the wall. Memorize them and have it your way. Hold your head high as you justify your dance habit with new words and skills that would make a substance addict proud.

REASON #1 - ENTERTAINMENT

Fun is solo. Entertainment is for everyone. Dancers light up the place by entertaining others and ourselves. Entertainment means playing and performing. Fun sounds selfish, but entertainment is for others. So your reason number one answer to the why do you do it question goes from, "cause it is fun," to I love to entertain people! One day I will be on stage with this dance, Star Search will find me. I’m preparing for an exhibition. We are going to bring the joy of dance as entertainment to schools, and rest-homes, and libraries. It’s really a community service! Will you come and watch us and be entertained too?

REASON #2 - ART

"Why do you dance all the time? Insert your name here__________________." Answer, I do it as an art form. It is my art (you must say this with great sincerity).

If you are like me, you love music but have zero talent for playing it. You always wanted to pound drums, pick strings, or vocalize with the band, but you couldn’t cut it. So, you become part of the music by dancing to it. This is a very powerful excuse for dancing too much. From the perspective of the audience (ie, all those non-dancing folks hanging off the bar-stools) they both hear and see the music. Observers see the dancers’ interpretation of the music for exactly what it is, part of the music. Dancing is art. You are an artist! This is why you do it. Getting chills yet?

REASON #3 - COMMUNICATION

I’ve danced for eleven years. In that time I lived in four cities in three states. The majority of lasting and important friendships I’ve made in these years came from dancing too much. Dancing is very social and therefore a fantastic way to meet and stay connected to lots of people. Everyone in the business world understands that knowing tons of people is the secret to success! Call it networking when you are making your "why I do it" speech.

This is an especially good reason (excuse) to use on your boss, your fellow workers, and your father. Gotta go! Dancing is where I make so many important and profitable contacts. Nothing has helped my business like dance. See ya later, people to meet, places to go!

REASON #4 - EXERCISE

Dance really is good for you. So you answer the question with, "Well, I used to run, swim, and play basketball. Then I hurt my knee and my doctor said I should give those things up.

The Doctor said, "Why don’t you take up dancing. It is great exercise and won’t hurt your knees (replace with elbows, ankles, or back as needed). Do as much as you can, just make sure you dance at least four times a week. Your health, your very life depends on it. By the way, dancing is safer and much cheaper than 1) heath spas, 2) mountain biking, 3) snow skiing, 4) owning a pool, or 5) buying a ton of home exercise equipment."

"Sure Doc. Whatever you say!"

REASON #5 - MEDITATION

This one really appeals to the thinker types. When they ask you why you dance so much say, "I dance as a form of meditation." The questioner’s eyebrows will rise. Keep going with, "nothing I’ve tried relaxes me as much as dancing. It is meditation in motion. It is a powerful, personal growth experience for me."

Actually dancing really is like moving meditation. How many times have you suddenly realized that you’ve been dancing for three or four hours almost non-stop? This is what the Oriental’s call "being in the moment." Modern Western writers have labeled this sort of activity-meditation as "being in the flow."

If you read this far, chances are you dance too much and your spouse, mother, father, children, friends, church fellows, and work associates think you are a dance fanatic. Now you know what to say when they ask why you do it. Just remember the five tenets of dancing too much 1) entertainment, 2) art, 3) communication, 4) exercise, and 5) meditation. This should keep them off of your back for awhile. And, if you decide to take up mountain climbing, you can tell folks you are doing it because there isn’t any dancing in the Himalayans.

Mark Van Schuyver lives in Atlanta. He is a writer and a West Coast Swing enthusiast with over thirteen years experience dancing. More than 100 of his articles have been published in national magazines including many on the subject of dance. You can reach Mark at by e-mail at Zarrdd@bigfoot.com.

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