Today’s Solutions: July 24, 2024

BY THE OPTIMIST DAILY EDITORIAL STAFF

Does everyone recall Prince William’s youthful nightlife exploits? Now, let’s fast forward to a viral video of Prince William at a Taylor Swift concert, his arms swinging energetically and his chest shimmying to the music. It’s official: the heir to the throne has adopted the art of dad dancing.

But he isn’t alone. This past weekend at Glastonbury, multitudes of guys will have similarly “shaken it off,” relishing in the euphoric, unselfconscious act of dancing. While it is obvious that older men dance differently than younger men, researchers suggest that dad dancing should be appreciated, not derided, due to its numerous benefits.

“When I look at Prince William dancing, I just see someone who’s smiling, he’s happy, and dance does those amazing things,” said Dr. Peter Lovatt, head of dance psychology at Movement in Practice and author of The Dance Cure. “We know that dancing is really good for social bonding and that when people dance together, they report liking and trusting each other more. Even when you’re dancing with strangers, you get those impacts of increased trust and familiarity.”

Hormonal influence on dancing

Lovatt became interested in dad dancing when research revealed that hormones influence dance techniques. He invited them inside his lab, measured their hormone levels, and recorded their dancing. His findings were intriguing: men’s and women’s dance moves were influenced by hormonal and genetic factors.

Men with high testosterone levels, for example, coordinated larger motions that disrupted the music’s rhythm rather than dancing securely to the beat. This dynamic approach was deemed more attractive, resembling animal courting dances in which intricate motions convey genetic fitness.

Dr. Nick Neave of Northumbria University discovered that women evaluated males as skilled dancers if they had a diverse repertoire that included techniques involving the torso and neck. Most men, however, continued to perform repetitive arm and leg movements.

“Possibly, when we are in our youth and our prime, we are communicating something about how wonderful our hormones and our genes are,” Lovatt said, likening aging dancers to a browning apple in a bowl of fruit. “As we get older, we are displaying the fact that we are perhaps less fertile, less attractive, and less than ideal mates through the way that we dance.”

Mental health benefits of dancing

However, Lovatt underlines that dance’s evolutionary relevance extends beyond mating cues. It also improves relationships, trust, and mood. “We know that anxiety and depression are associated with being stuck in negative patterns of thinking, and when people engage in dance, those negative thoughts get disrupted for a while. There’s a lifting in their mood and they break away from those set patterns of thinking.”

Dr. Ian Blackwell, a visiting lecturer at Plymouth Marjon University and organizer of the World Dad Dancing Championships, discusses how society drives males to conform and repress self-expression. “It’s a shame that anytime a dad gets up to move, it has negative connotations – it’s embarrassing for him and the children, it’s embarrassing for the public. We know the value of dancing for health, well-being, and making friends. It’s something that we should celebrate.”

Embracing ‘Dad Dancing’

Although some men avoid dancing for fear of being judged, confidence in dancing frequently grows with maturity. When men reach their mid-60s, their confidence “goes through the roof,” according to Lovatt.

Consider Robin Woods, the current World Dad Dancing champion and father of three from Paignton, Devon. Woods has enthusiastically announced his victory on social media. “I think the people that know me from when I used to go out a lot – and always ended up on the dance floor – were pleased that I’ve finally been recognized,” he chuckled. “It’s a nice thing – it’s not a serious thing – and so it’s fine that I’m making fun of myself.”

Woods characterizes his technique as “freestyle,” drawing inspiration from James Brown and Michael Jackson. He was unfamiliar with dad dancing before joining the competition, so he expected it to be more energetic and erratic than conventional dance. What’s his strategy? Exaggerate everything. 

After a fierce dance-off to “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers and “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong, Woods won the championship. 

Blackwell commented on Prince William’s brief dance video, saying, “While the clip was too short to judge whether he could win, he would be very welcome to come to DadFest in September so we can see the full extent of his moves and whether he’s got a decent Lawnmower Starter, Big Fish, Little Fish, John Travolta, or Lasso.”

Celebrate your inner dad dancer

In a culture that frequently tells us to conform and hold back, dad dancing represents a joyful resistance. It’s about openly expressing yourself, connecting with others, and boosting your soul. So the next time you feel the beat, channel your inner dad dancer. Your body, mind, and soul will thank you for it.

 

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