Country Dancing

That First Step


Two-Step, Texas Two-Step, Foxtrot, Cha-Cha, Cowboy Cha-Cha, Waltz, Classic Waltz, Cowboy Waltz, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, Jitterbug, Polka, Schottische, Line Dancing, Contra Line Dancing, Square Dance, Round Dance, and Barn Dance Social (a.k.a. Speed Dating), just to name a few. Us Country folk, we sure do love our dancing!

Why do we love our dancing? Many reasons. Fitness is one I often hear and yes, dancing is very healthy. Music is going, you are on the dance floor, body is moving, calories are burning, endorphin’s are releasing, and this feels great. Socializing is another common reason I hear. Needed a change, wanted to get out of the house, or wanted to just go out and have fun. I have seen friendships created through dance that would have otherwise never happened, and even marriages. Actually, I personally know quite a few married couples that met on a dance floor, come to think of it.

For myself and dancers like me, dance is very much an obsession. Outside of work, our social schedules are arranged by our dancing schedules. We are always watching other dancers very carefully. When we are not dancing, we are watching videos of dancing. We record our own dance videos and we practice regularly. Our feet hurt. We never stop taking dance lessons because we always want to learn more dances. But today, this story is not about us.

Let’s talk about THAT FIRST STEP dancers take. Now, every dance starts with a first step but even before that can happen we must take THAT FIRST STEP out on to the dance floor. THAT FIRST STEP is always the hardest, but guess what – every dancer has taken that step. Yes, even that confident advanced dancer spinning around out there had to brave THAT FIRST STEP at one point and believe it or not they want you to take THAT FIRST STEP, too. Yes, dancers want to dance with other dancers and once you do take THAT FIRST STEP, well, you are sharing a very unique common bond.

So why are so many people reluctant to take THAT FIRST STEP on to a dance floor? I have heard people say, “I can’t dance” or “I have two left feet.” Confidence is another common reason.

“Trust me you can dance.” For some, this quote comes from Vodka. But really it’s true – you can dance and the reasons are a bit of that science and biology stuff.

Everyone has a brain, yes everyone (insert clever punch line about your ex right here). Near the base of your brain is the cerebellum, which is primarily responsible for the timing and coordination of your body’s movements. According to neurologists, the cerebellum is also very responsive to sound. Imagine if your friend sneaks up behind you and claps their hands very loudly, your body is going to react involuntarily by ducking or quickly moving away from the sound. Now, this reaction is not dance, but given some of the weird music out there today (some of which sounds exactly like a dangerous attack to the back of the skull), well maybe it is dance.

Another thing I find relevant and interesting is this thing psychologists refer to as the “chameleon effect.” The theory behind the chameleon effect is that we mimic those around us for social acceptance and we do this involuntarily. If you or a friend of yours ever traveled across the country for a summer away from home with out of state friends of family, they likely returned home with a slight accent or used some sort of localized slang from that area. We use similar slang as our friends, we dress similarly and yes, physically we act similarly. We play similar sports as our friends and yes for some, we like to dance like our friends.

Have you ever been in a crowd of people who begin a slow rhythmic clap like: CLAP……..CLAP……..CLAP……..CLAP…….. What happens next – naturally you join in. Why? Maybe you like the sound and wish to contribute. Maybe your brain likes the way it feels to respond to those around you. Maybe you are doing it out of social obligation, so you don’t look like a weirdo being the only one in the crowd not clapping. Guess what – this is dance.

Origin of dance? If physiology and psychology didn’t excite you, then perhaps some history will. There is no archeological evidence outlining the exact origin of dance but it’s safe to assume dance became part of human culture at the same time communicating with each other did. With a little bit of research I did learn the first recordings of dance were as little more than 5,000 years ago. These paintings were found on tombs in India and Egypt depicting entire cities dancing in celebration and in ceremony. Other recordings since that time depict dance used as a communication tool between cultures speaking different languages. I found that interesting, too.

So every human literally has the capability to dance but regrettably, not every human willingly becomes a dancer. In fact, very few people become dancers. So why don’t they? Perhaps it’s pride or perhaps it’s fear. I get it and frankly taking THAT FIRST STEP on to a dance floor can be intimidating. Heck, some find it challenging to simply join the social scene and may not be ready to step out on to the floor. When they are ready, dancers are ready to welcome them.

Where does it begin for someone wanting to learn to dance? How does one take THAT FIRST STEP? Beginner lessons are a great place to start. Your local country bar likely has dance lessons, check it out. Search online, check your social media for places offering lessons, and of course check with us here at Cleveland Country Magazine.

I don’t speak for all dancers but I will speak for myself, an advanced dancer. There is an entire world to be found inside ourselves while dancing and we absolutely want to share this with you. Fitness, friendship, boredom cure, confidence building, and so much more comes from dance. It’s just one little step and believe me THAT FIRST STEP that will forever change your life.

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