Can't Wait To Start Dancing?
& Dan Finch
It’s a new year, still strangled by the shutdowns of the pandemic and
new daily records of death and hospitalizations, but a vaccine is here!
There will be a normal again someday. We could be dancing soon!
None of us lived through it, but this is much like a century ago.
According to The Week, the Spanish flu had arrived in September 1918,
killing nearly 200,000 in October that year alone. World War I ended
with the armistice signed on November 11 that year, and the world felt
like celebrating, in spite of the epidemic. San Francisco had enacted a
law to require wearing masks or face a $5 fine, but resistance forced
the law to die before Christmas. Stores were mostly open but no
visiting Santa Claus in stores that year. Church services were
restricted and people were encouraged to stay home. And like now, there
was a second wave in January 1919. That virus was proclaimed to have
petered out by the summer of 1919, having killed an estimated 675,000
Americans and 50 million worldwide.
Eat your black-eyed peas* now to bring on good luck in this new year.
Start exercising (if you have not been) so you will be in shape to
dance, and make your reservations for the dance conventions coming up
this summer—Roundalab for teachers and dancers, in Mississippi in June,
along with the National Square Dance Convention, and ICBDA, in
Tennessee in July.
Why be concerned about returning to dance? Because it is one serious
way to stay young. Each year, it seems I write about a new study that
compares the benefits of dance with other activities. Almost all of
them rank dancing as one of the best ways to preserve your brain.
Crossword puzzles are good, but dancing requires thinking, cooperation
with a partner, and reaction to a new stimulus (music).
This year is no exception. A new book was released recently by Dr.
Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and television medical authority, that says
you can “Keep Sharp: Build A Better Brain At Any Age.” In this pandemic
time, he says, the best thing you can do for yourself every day is to
take a walk, best if it is with a friend, and talk about new ideas.
This is physical exercise, shared social interaction, and stimulation
to keep the brain firing on all synapses.
Isn’t that just like dancing? “Your brain is one organ that can get
stronger as you age,” Dr. Gupta wrote. The brain weighs about three
pounds; it is 73 percent water and slight dehydration affects your
memory and cognitive skills. The brain is “exercised” by continuing to
learn new things. He said London cab drivers get a mental workout
navigating tight, busy streets, but their memory centers may be slowing
down because of GPS. Taking a class is better than doing a crossword
puzzle because, more than stimulating the brain to remember facts,
learning new knowledge pays a bigger reward.
Do “whatever you find joyful, satisfying and meaningful,” he wrote.
Don’t underestimate the power of hand holding. Be with friends, do new
things, eat properly, get enough sleep. “Connect authentically with
others,” he wrote, “and maintain a vibrant social life.”
He offers a 12 week plan to improve your mental health, starting with
“move more.” Try something different to surprise your body and use new
muscles, he says. Why not just dance?
* Why Black-Eyed Peas For Good
Luck? It is a Southern tradition dating back to the Civil War. The
Union had destroyed all the “valuable” crops and all that was left were
the peas, it is said. Southern families felt lucky to have them. If you
are from other areas, find good luck in the New Year’s pretzel for
Germans, lentils for Italians, and pickled herring for Scandinavians.
From a club
newsletter, January 2021,
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, February 2021. Find a DRDC Finch archive here.