Brittney Nial ’21
You’ve heard about homecoming your whole life. The frame-worthy photos, the dresses worth more than your left arm, the dazzling lights and even more dazzling hunk of a date. Finally, finally, it’s here. You spent hours picking the perfect dress, you slaved over your make-up and it took forever to decide on a nail color. It is the night of memories, the ones you’ll tell your grandchildren about. Nothing can ruin it. Nothing at all.
Except one thing.
You realize it as you walk in. Your nails may be a brilliant shade of red, but you can’t dance at all. And prom is, above all, a dance.
An enormous amount of high school students find themselves in this predicament (cue the teens clustered around the edge of the dance floor, the hordes outside the gym and the people actually on the dance floor huddling around their phones during the homecoming dance). There’s no fun in staring at a phone during a dance. People do that everywhere.
Yet that’s what students end up doing at homecoming. They end up throwing away $60, when they could have had so much more fun if only they were comfortable dancing. Which is why everyone should learn how to dance.
Nearly every big social event requires dancing. Just think about weddings, sweet sixteens, bar or bat mitzvahs, grad parties or school dances. What takes up the most space? The dance floor, of course.
Feeling confident at these events calls for a certain familiarity with dancing. Sure, sitting and talking is always an option, but the people who do that the entire time are missing out. Teens sit all day in school. They talk to their friends all lunch. But when do they get to dance? When do they get to let go of everyone’s differences and connect over the bass pounding in every single chest? Certainly not every day.
Going to a celebration like a wedding or a sweet sixteen and not dancing is experiencing the ordinary instead of the extraordinary. Being comfortable with party dancing makes social events far more enjoyable.
Dancing also benefits health. Apart from physical benefits – increased coordination, balance, aerobic fitness and weight management – dance is known to improve both mental and emotional health.
“[Dance] has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress and boost self-esteem, body image, coping ability, and overall sense of well-being, with the benefits lasting over time,” stated an article in Berkley Wellness.
An article by Richard Powers posted on Stanford’s online website declared that dancing over time can result in a 76 percent risk reduction for dementia. It was the only physical activity proven to reduce risk in the study, and it triumphed over all tested activities, including reading (35 percent reduction) and doing crossword puzzles (47 percent).
Dancing is a great tool for social activities, it helps preserve memory in the long-term and it boosts mental and emotional health in the moment.
Fortunately, dancing is not nearly as hard as passing AP U.S. History with flying colors. All it takes is getting comfortable. The people who sit on the sides of the dance floor aren’t any less capable than the people rocking it out. The key to party-dancing is confidence – or the illusion of confidence – and a little bit of practice.
And finally, perhaps the most important thing about dancing for all high-schoolers out there: it’s attractive. Enough said.