I was honestly not expecting such an overwhelming response to my article on dance addiction. It caught me completely off-guard. From the responses, it’s clear that the article resonated with a lot of social dancers – and for that, I’m glad.
But, what I want to address here are the people who felt like I was attacking the fact that dance has been a positive influence in their lives. I received several messages from people who highlighted how dance made them less lonely and more connected. On how it replaced superficial friendships with real ones. On how it gave life purpose, and illuminated faulty career choices.
The article was not designed for you.
If dance is enriching your life and giving you friends and passion, you’re doing it right. That’s what a fantastic hobby is supposed to do. That’s what it almost always does for me – and for the majority of the people who dance.
But, we must acknowledge that great things don’t always function as desired. There is a significant portion of the hardcore dance community who struggles with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and escapism. According to a study published on dance addiction, 11% of dancers surveyed found that dance created conflict in their life.
Dance, like any great hobby, can swerve into an unhealthy addiction in a minority of people. Just like exercise. Just like healthy dieting. Just like skiing. Just like almost anything that gives us happy feelings.
And yes – technically, dance itself is not ‘to blame’ for dance addiction. Usually, there are pre-existing conditions that make people more likely to have an unhealthy relationship with dance. But, we can’t just ignore our fellows who are at risk.
Yes, sometimes dance exposes flaws that were pre-existing. But, if it becomes an addiction, it can also ruin perfectly good careers and relationships. And, if dance takes away everything and you decide to stop, what do you have left?
When we don’t talk about how to engage with dance in a healthy way, we put people at risk. When we don’t help people understand the importance of interpersonal connection and dance-life balance, we put people at risk of falling too deep too quickly.
None of this negates how much good dance does in the overwhelming majority of cases. It’s perfectly rational to understand that dance can be used as a maladaptive coping mechanism in extreme cases, while still appreciating its impressive positive powers.
Dance can help slow things like Alzheimers. It can help people who are depressed or suffer from social anxiety. It can help people live a healthy, active lifestyle. It keeps your body young, and many dancers make life-long friendships in the scene.
There’s so much good in dance. Let’s make sure that all dancers understand how to make dance a positive force in their lives – rather than a negative.