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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Social dancing promotes social connection

Ethan Seaney

Social dancing is a lost art that needs to be recovered. I believe it is the treatment we need for the social epidemic of people who do not know how to talk to each other.

I am not referring to dancing at parties or bars, so put the image of high school prom out of your mind. I am talking about organized dancing socials that include true ballroom dances and foster healthy socialization.

In a ballroom dance class, you separate into two lines and learn different dances with alternating partners. Imagine speed dating, but there are no romantic expectations, and you are having fun dancing with a new friend.

I spent my teenage years ballroom dancing, where I learned swing, cha-cha, salsa, foxtrot, tango, hustle and nightclub two step, to name a few. More importantly, I learned how to talk to new people and grow my confidence.

Trading partners every 10 minutes, there was little time for small talk. I learned to skip to more intentional conversations and enjoy a stranger’s company as we created art together.

I believe I can learn a lot about a person if I spend some time dancing with them, and this has taught me to seek out the good in others. I might not walk away remembering my partner’s name, but I will remember how they made me feel.

People can be terribly annoying, but they can also be wonderful and have incredible stories to tell. My class regularly performed for a local senior-citizen ballroom dance group. If they were not talking with us high school students, they were asking us to dance.

It may sound odd, but I enjoyed hearing about these people’s lives while we danced in foxtrot lines. One was a Vietnam veteran who danced to remember his life before the war. Another encouraged me to savor happiness any chance I have.

One right after the other had incredible stories, and I had a front row seat to learn about their lives and share about my own in return. I often hear people say they hate small talk, or that they generally do not like talking to people. This attitude has drifted us further and further away from being socially curious and intentional about getting to know others.

Social dancing also helps to gain confidence in social situations. I remember when I was a senior, I helped an awkward sophomore boy navigate talking to others, specifically girls. There is no real pressure to talk while dancing because you are already doing an activity together and you know you will have a new partner shortly.

However, this student struggled socially, which made his time dancing awkward because he was so self-conscious. Over time, I was able to watch him come out of his shell and grow into a more confident version of himself because of the positive feedback his friends gave.

This is not the only story. Whether it was seeking out solos in choir and band programs, attending dances with dates, growing larger friend groups or learning to talk easily with adults, every student in our dance class left more confident to do something they previously struggled with.

Finally, bringing social dancing back into style would give us something fun and constructive to do. In a world where we are seeking adrenaline rushes and the feeling of being truly alive, dancing is such a perfect way to get it.

Many of my friends love to run for the adrenaline high, but I love to dance. Feeling nothing but the rhythm of the music through dips and twirls with another person is a high I hope everyone gets to experience.

Dressing up and going out to dance is a historically beloved pastime. I believe bringing back social dancing would teach people to hold intentional conversations and to enjoy the world just a little bit more to the tune of smiles and dance steps. Join me in rolling up the living room carpet and stepping into dance shoes, seeking that feeling of genuine connection and a taste of happiness.

About the Contributor
Elisa Stocking
Elisa Stocking, Staff Writer
Elisa Stocking is a senior communication major. Elisa is currently a staff writer for The Reflector.
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