I am not a good dancer. I am not being self-deprecating or overly critical, I’m simply stating a fact. I sometimes wonder if the producers of Seinfeld saw me in a disco and modeled Elaine Benes’ dance moves after mine.
Luckily, I grew up in the ’70s, when the line dance like The Hustle were popular and the steps didn’t require much coordination. As I got older, I’d make my way to the dance floor because it was “fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A,” and there was a point when I could blend in relatively well if the DJ played the Macarena. But when the music changed to regular dancing, I excused myself to the ladies room or bar.
Although my lack of rhythm hasn’t improved with age, my ability to enjoy dancing in public has. Even if I am just swaying without much foot movement, I realize that I’d rather feel slightly embarrassed on the dance floor than like a party pooper sitting in my chair watching everyone get their groove on.
Dancing has a bigger, more positive effect on the brain than even endurance training.
Dancing is a lot of fun. And it’s good for both the body and the brain. According to a 2017 study by Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, older people who routinely participate in physical exercise, including dancing, can slow down brain aging. Turns out that dancing has a bigger, more positive effect on the brain than even endurance training. Researchers believe that’s because when you dance, you often need to memorize steps and routines, thus engaging the brain while getting the heart rate up and challenging balance, too.
In recent years, my teenage son has tried teaching me some of the more popular dances. I have actually gotten pretty good at the Shiggy Challenge — at least up until the freestyle part. My Floss, on the other hand, is another story. It’s like watching the Tin Man move his hips from side to side while Dorothy looks for his oil can. But what I lack in dance ability, I make up for in enthusiasm. The two of us can’t help but crack up, even on a bad day, when I bust a move in our living room.
And laughter — especially with someone you love — is the best medicine of all.