Meredith & Harold



MAJOR SECTIONS: Figures | Articles | Links | Alph. Index | Search | Home

Figures in the Smooth Rhythms
Viennese Waltz
International Tango
American Tango
Two Step
Five Count
One Step
Figures in the Latin Rhythms
Cha Cha
Single Swing
West Coast Swing
Slow Two Step
Argentine Tango
Paso Doble
Dance Articles
Articles Home

Dance Figures

Dance Rhythms
Lead and Follow
Dance Styling
Fred Astaire Album
Other Sections
Dance Links
Music Clips For Each Rhythm
Search Site/Web
Contact Me

Can't Wait To Start Dancing?

by Sandi & 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, and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, February 2021. Find a DRDC Finch archive here.


Alphabetical Index to
and Technique
Online since 2001 İHarold and Meredith Sears, Boulder, CO, All rights reserved.