Don’t Drink… Learn to Dance

Written by on 20 September 2011 in Alternatives - 2 Comments

There’s something you can do in the evening that is fun, highly sociable and doesn’t revolve round alcohol.

No, not a carjacking party. Whatever that is.

Lindy Hop class in Leeds, England (photo: Jo Casey)

Dance classes are great for non-drinkers because, unlike in nightclubs, the amount of alcohol consumed is usually zero. People might loosen up more after a few drinks, but have you ever tried learning something when you’re intoxicated? I can barely read.

The goal might be to dance well; to meet members of the opposite sex; to stop knocking people over every time music is in audible range, but in a lot of ways the journey is more fun than the destination.

Whichever classes you go to, there’ll be a group of core regulars, meaning you can build up a community of friends. The fact that you’re all learning something, and it’s a bit tricky, instantly gives you all something in common. You can have conversations like:

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m here to learn how to dance”

“Me too!”

Adding to the sociability is the format, with some enforcing a constant swapping of partners. It’s like a swingers’ community, but with less chlamydia. If you’re single it’s a great way to meet people as a lot of classes don’t require you to come with a partner, but even for long-standing couples it’s great as it gives you a new way to communicate with each other beyond arguing about who was meant to take the chicken out the freezer.

Me taking an activity a little too seriously, as usual - dancing Joropo in Colombia

It’s a great thing to travel with, too, as dances like Salsa, Tango or Lindy Hop are like global languages – wherever you land there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a local scene, and hence become part of an instant community. I danced my way round Colombia last year, and at times it was a more useful skill than Spanish.

I’m wary of going into the health benefits because I don’t want to sound like the evangelist that I clearly am. But, well… “Physical activity in ‘good for you’ shock”…. and if you’re not drinking, that’s good for you in its own right. Plus it has established mental benefits, too.

A lot of people avoid going for fear of goofing up. Let me put your mind at ease: you will goof up. I can practically guarantee it. And so will everyone else. And unless your mistake causes part-destruction of the building, who’s going to remember?

“You should have seen them – they’d never danced before, and they made a number of small errors!”

If you’re really scared, you could always just buy a DVD like this one, to get up to speed a little before you go. But my advice would be this: Just go, screw up and enjoy it.

2 Comments on "Don’t Drink… Learn to Dance"

  1. Katia 20 September 2011 at 12:48 pm · Reply

    Loving your writing Neil! It´s completely absurd that a beginner would be scared of making mistakes but I do recognize that feeling…:)

    • Neil 20 September 2011 at 4:01 pm · Reply

      Thanks Katia!

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