Touch and Dancing

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So my preferred browser likes to show me links to three articles every time I go to the home page.  Nothing too click-baity and I’m sure there is some algorithm at work to figure out what might or might not interest me.  Anyway, today, there was an article from the Guardian asking if we are living through a crisis of touch.

The main gist of the article is that humans are wired to need a certain amount of touch – or physical contact with other humans.  They cited a couple of studies that looked scientific enough to back up the point and then there were references to cuddle workshops and a place where they actually have certified cuddlers.  I’ve sort of heard of cuddle parties before and I’ll admit that the whole thing sounds kind of new agey, out there type of stuff.

Every big corporation (like the one I work for) probably has some kind of harassment training which just makes it less likely that you’ll reach out and touch someone at work.  With all the attention to the various creeps in various entertainment fields, there are certainly valid reasons to do this kind of stuff.  But maybe we’ve just gone a little overboard on that.

And its not just that.  We are slowly becoming a nation of germophobes with hand sanitizer everywhere.  (Full disclosure, I use my forearm to push open the bathroom door at work because you never know who’s touched the little metal plate you are supposed to use).  But I think that also leads to a certain amount of fear and trepidation.  Do you really want to shake that hand if you don’t know where’s it been?

I was sitting at a table with a colleague at work today and we were reviewing some data on the big screen.  Guy who has the office next to me walks by and makes a joke about the data and kind of gives me a little pat on the upper arm.  Just a little gesture he may not have thought too much about but it does have an impact.  So maybe the science is on to something.

So if we drive touch out of our lives forever, then do we become less human.  Touch does create some kind of connection – even if only for a moment.  I’m already worried about how social media seems to encourage people to say the most hateful things to people and to view those who think differently as the worst type of people.  Maybe this is correlated with all the pressure to keep your hands to yourself.  Maybe not but it just got me to thinking.

Now, I’m not suggesting we end up like that Seinfeld episode where Jerry freaks out because all his neighbors start doing a hello kiss.  There do have to be limits.

How does ballroom dancing fit into this little stream of thinking?  Well ballroom dancing is a contact sport.  At a minimum, you are holding one hand and your other is on the back of your partner.  Move up and have a more willing partner and you can have a lot more body contact.  Do a lesson and you’ll spend the better part of the time in physical contact with another human person.  Go to a group or a party and you’ll be in physical contact with many other human persons.  The science would suggest this is a good thing.  I’m sure it is not something that the ballroom studies want to emphasize “come on in and touch somebody” but it might very well be one of the hidden benefits of ballroom.  Maybe in several years, all us dancers will be the only social adjusted people left in the world!

I think I need to stop clicking on these stories.  It just makes me think too much.


  1. Well there’s really a lot to think about here. We do need actual physical contact with others. I remember the hugs I got when I first walked into a 12 step meeting

    But for Pete’s sake, stop it with the hand sanitizer already

    1. I know! There’s a guy at work who sanitizes all the time. Washes his hands so many times during the day that they are red and raw. But he gets sick a lot!! Don’t think it’s working for him.

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