We Need More Ballroom Dancing!

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I was at the studio party last night and, at one point, I was sitting with another long timer and we were sort of discussing the recent infusion of youth among the students. Well we were talking about how quickly they’ve progressed and lamenting a little bit about our older, less flexible and more tired bodies. Have no idea how long any of them will stick around but it is interesting to have a core of younger folk.

My 20’s are so far in the rear view mirror and I have no idea what that age is like these days but it just kind of struck me that ballroom dance may just be what everyone needs right now. The pandemic accelerated a trend towards remote work which certainly has advantages.

It is probably more efficient to just interact with people when you need to but there was something about the connections you make just having a non work conversation with people. There are going to be some hard core introverts who would prefer almost no human contact but I think the majority of us need some face to face time and the dance studio certainly provides that.

I think as a species we do have a certain need for physical touch. Again, not everyone and the amount required is going to differ. After all, we didn’t all come from the same mold. But I think the need is certainly there for most of us.

As a manager in the corporate world, I saw first hand how much things changed in the workplace over my time there. That was certainly true as a male boss with female team members. And I’m not at all suggesting that the increased training and awareness was a bad thing because it needed to happen. It is just that there are unintended consequences to most actions even those done for the right reasons.

In ballroom dancing, physical contact is not only expected, it is required. Now, there are certain situations where they do have to bring up warnings so that you don’t end up doing something inappropriate. I think it fills a need now more than ever.

Now, ballroom dancing certainly isn’t for germaphobes. Just thinking back to the party last night, if you thought about how many hands you held and how many other hands those hands touched, you’d drive yourself crazy. There are a few couples who dance exclusively with themselves, but I suspect the rest of us would be connected to everyone else in the room somehow. (Note to self, that would be an interesting experiment – who danced with whom and how you could trace lines from person to person).

In its own way, I think the pandemic has played a part. We hid our faces behind masks, we ran to the hand sanitizer constantly, we social distanced from everyone. I do think some people just forgot that there were other humans behind the masks and just saw everyone as a potential virus carrier. In some ways, we kind of forgot how to be people.

I’m not attempting to minimize the risk but the reality at this point is that you can either continue to self isolate and live in fear or do what you can to minimize the risk and go back to life. I think back to a year ago when everyone was masked and parties got cancelled and they stopped rotating in group class and hand sanitizer was everywhere. It was ballroom but it wasn’t. Now the studio is almost like pre-Covid life and I think some people need that.

Maybe this isn’t specifically about the young. Heck, back in the 80s, Rick Springfield wrote a song called Human Touch which included the line “I’m so cool calculated alone in a modern world”. But it is certainly true that technological advances had accelerated that trend and it is easier to live virtually today than it was in the 80s. I’m not knocking virtual connections but it is nothing compared to the connection you feel dancing a Waltz, or a Tango, or a Rumba, or a Cha-Cha ….

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