“Dancing? Um, no thanks.” I reply as my out-of-town friends suggest a night out club-hopping. The idea of scantily clad twerking tourists spilling drinks all over my conservative white cotton button down and reasonably long shorts gives me immediate chills. “Oh come on, it will be fun! We need to move,” they beg. After a few minutes of convincing with a side of wine, I agree to a night on the town with the stipulation that we would not visit any mega-clubs. The girls agreed, opting anyway for less dramatic venues where we could really let loose like nobody was watching.

Some may say that this cannot be done in a town of Ferrari-driving hoteliers and their plastic, long-legged girlfriends 20 years their junior. That’s because they’re not locals. Not only are there plenty of low-key, down to earth dancing options around the city, there are also real reasons why we should be doing it.

Let’s start with the why. Dancing, freestyle dancing to be specific, has multiple benefits for both the mind and the body. As we all know, movement is key to a healthy heart and body. It’s a much better option for your Saturday night plans than sitting at the local watering hole with your friends, chatting for hours about the highs and lows of the latest political drama. While yes, these topics are certainly discussion-worthy, save it for brunch.  Aside from getting the blood pumping and increasing your heart rate, freestyle dancing can tone your muscles and burn fat. It improves balance and coordination, and in some cases, can improve self-esteem. (Probably the less booze the better if you’re seeking that latter benefit)

Dancing is also extremely good for the mind. When a DJ leads the party, we don’t know what beats to expect next, so we are forced to make an almost-unconscious rapid decision of what to do with our bodies. This highly strengthens the mind-body connection. With the mind stimulated and the body following suit, stress and tension release, for at least a few hours.

Last but certainly not least, according to a study at the well-known Stanford University, freestyle dancing can lower one’s risk of dementia by a whopping 76 percent. Dancing can  strengthen your brain better than crossword puzzles, reading, or golf. Every night out you bust a move is a little more brainpower in the bank for after your knees give out.

Read more at The New Tropic

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