Saturday, 22 October 2011

Dancing – one of the best antidepressants?

My wife was always a “natural” when it came to dancing, and it has been one of my few disappointments in all the years we’ve been married that, for all the evening classes we’ve gone to, I never got anywhere near her standard. Certainly not good enough to do her credit on the dance floor. She never complained, mind, but I knew she was a bit sad about it.

            Well, having not long been retired I thought I would give it one last go, this time of a 4 day residential course in Ballroom and Latin at a hotel and leisure complex in Torquay. This meant lessons every day and social dancing with our fellow students in the evening.

            Our dance tutors – a married couple who had been teaching dance for years – were excellent. Also encouraging. And for the first time I found that among my fellow learners were a few who were, well, even worse than I was. I did admire them of persevering and indeed they did make progress.

            But perhaps not as much as I did. With the excellent tuition and help I really felt myself getting somewhere at last. By the end I was dancing competently enough with my wife the cha-cha-cha, waltz, social foxtrot and quickstep. She was thrilled. And of course we are going to go forward from here.

            And I had an interesting conversation with one participant who, on hearing that I had been a doctor, told me that on this course she had just stopped taking the fluoxetine (Prozac) she’d been prescribed for years and hadn’t felt so good for a long time.

            On reflection I wondered whether this had to do with four effects that dancing has:

  1. It is excellent exercise. And safe. We both wear step counters and aim to clock up 10,000 steps a day to keep in trim. On the course we were at or above 20,000 steps.
  2. Done well it has an elegance and beauty.
  3. The music is wonderful.
  4. People tended to get dressed up in a way that has largely gone out of fashion. The women, young and old, took a lot of trouble and pretty well without exception looked fantastic. The men wore smart casual, and about half (myself included) wore jacket and tie (no-one went so far as tails, mind). Making yourself look good makes you feel good.

We came home refreshed and elated. I can only recommend it.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations in mastering a skill that I'm sure will bring both of you a lot of pleasure.

    I'm a really, really bad dancer, but I still agree it might be good as an antidepressant. Worth a try, anyway.