Dance like no one is watching
Popular television shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and Britain's Got Talent have given some Britons the perfect opportunity to get down and throw some moves. But have they inspired you to take to the floor?
It’s one of the best forms of exercise for mind and body
Let’s hope so, because twirling round the room offers more than public humiliation. First, it’s good for your health. “It’s one of the best forms of exercise for mind and body,” says Arlene Phillips, choreographer and children’s author.
Dr Peter Lovatt, reader in dance psychology at the University of Hertfordshire (and no mean twinkle-toes himself), agrees. “Dancing to a beat improves mood, vigour and social togetherness,” he says. It can even sharpen your thinking. “Experiments in our lab show that structured dancing helps people do sums faster. And 20 minutes of improvised dancing improves creative problem-solving.”
We studied 14,000 people and found that at 40, women’s dance confidence was far higher than men’s—but by 60, the positions are reversed
So why don’t we do it? “Men who don’t dance feel self-conscious, while women say they don’t know what to do,” claims Lovatt, who sets out his research online. Age comes into it, too. “We studied 14,000 people and found that at 40, women’s dance confidence was far higher than men’s—but by 60, the positions are reversed.” He found that older men have much neater moves and have given up the flailing associated with the “dad dancing” of their forties. And, critically, it’s easier for men to find a partner.
But women shouldn’t let that hold them back. A look in any nightclub shows singles, groups and couples jigging about. Belly dancing, tap, ballet, line dancing and flamenco are partnerless, while a ceilidh embraces all ages. If you want a partner, sign up to a community website or go to a class and see what gives. “Most will find a partner for you,” says Arlene.
Or just take to the floor. “We get couples to chat while dancing freestyle and mirror each other’s movements to get rid of psychological blocks,” says Lovatt. “You don’t need to learn steps. You just need to relax.”