Updated: Apr 12
This week I attended a meet-up of my female self-employed networking group. Now, most networking groups are cold and stuffy. The ‘and what do you do’ and passing your business card over kind, but I’ve found something a bit different (check out the Sussex-based networking group I'm part of - Co-Women). Our latest meet up involved the countryside, Prosecco and silent disco.
We walked into the woods, attired in sparkly outfits, walking boots, and headphones which pumped out our collective playlist. Self-distancing, abiding by Covid rules, but strangely united through the music we all shimmied to as we climbed through woodlands to open fields. There we let loose dancing wild and free, smiling at one another as we caught eyes and enjoying the music both individually and together.
It got me thinking about the peculiar relationship we, as human beings, have with music. Music has been something I have always reached out for when my mindset does not match what I desire it to be. It’s the easiest non-chemical method to rearranging my mood. When I find myself pacing my living room trying to make sense of conversations or work problems or just the entrapment that we’ve all found ourselves in through numerous lockdowns, I often find release in music. Some may find it trivial to dance alone in a living room or socially distanced from others in a field. Even in normal times, it’s difficult to understand why moving to music in pubs, clubs or at festivals has the power to make us feel so free. Yet, music has in many ways always been a part of humankind, since the very beginning.
Have you ever watched how young babies respond to music? It’s fascinating to watch their tiny bodies sway and move along to music before they’re even anywhere near walking. Yet, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise us. As infants rocking is used to calm and settle us. People have always used music to communicate, express themselves and even bond. From tribal dancing to the spiritual. From groups of sports fans jumping in unison to ‘come hither’ moves on the dance floor, dance is woven into the fabric of even those who claim to hate doing it publically. Perhaps it is related to health. Regulation of heartbeat is a rhythm that sooths us for obvious reasons. In early years we actually use rhythm to help us make sense of the world. Studies prove that children who are introduced to rhythm and rhyme as babies find learning to speak easier. It’s why we tend to talk to children in sing-song voices and we clap when they do something well. So, before we can even talk, we begin to associate that combination of sound and movement with joy.
The truth is though, that in early years we’re only just beginning to form a relationship between movement and happiness. This is something we must carry through our whole lives.
Although we often associate dance with joy, it is also often used in therapy for both physical and metal health. Dance theory has successfully been used to treat many illnesses and conditions including Parkinsons, depression, chronic pain and autism.
Dance, though often used to unify people, is also a wonderful way of communicating with ourselves. To intertwine that relationship between body and soul. This is why when you are carelessly dancing around your living room, you can be alone but not feel lonely. Rhythm continues to help us make sense of the world, even in later years. Moving to music releases endorphins and relieves stress. On days of confusion, taking a moment to find that beat can make the world make sense again.
Whatever your jam, whatever your age and however rhythmically challenged you might be, try to find a few minutes every day to dance. Let go of stress, anxiety and fear of feeling silly by reminding yourself that human beings, as well as many animals and birds, across the whole planet, use movement to express themselves and have done for thousands of years. Dance is one of the best ways your body and mind can show love to one another and come together to experience joy.