Social Question

RareDenver's avatar

Why do you think people like dancing so much?

Asked by RareDenver (13092 points ) November 24th, 2012

Loud music, crowd of people, moving around, it’s one of the best feelings, but why? Any evolutionary biologists out there wanna tackle this one?

In before “something to do with sex”

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31 Answers

Ayesha's avatar

I’m no Biologist. For me, it’s because it’s a wonderful way to express yourself. It feels good with the right kind of music, letting loose and if with a partner you get to have the feeling of sharing the joy that comes with. All in all I think it’s fun, whether it’s slow dancing or going crazy on some good loud music.

newtscamander's avatar

Maybe because of the endorphins released by physical exercise? And you don’t need to motivate yourself for this exercise because you go out with people you like and their looking forward to it motivates you because it is well executed peer pressure. Also, often alcohol and/or drugs are involved, which easily lead you into a tipsy state of well-being and giddiness.

JLeslie's avatar

When I dance I don’t think about any of my woes. It’s easy to lose yourself in music to begin with, then add in dancing on top and it is a great escape. Depending on the dance it can be an expression of art, something that is mastered. Or, it can be a free for all that just rolls with the beat. It can be shared with others. All good in my opinion. I think the people who don’t like to dance tend to be those who can’t find a beat, maybe that is tone deaf? Can’t even clap to the rythym. Although, in my zumba class there are quite a few people who are off beat and still seem to enjoy themselves, many of them are quite uncoordinated. I don’t know if they know they are off beat?

I think the endorphins are part of it as @scuniper suggests. Probably also our psychological associations with dance. Growing up dancing for me was in the living room with my sister or dad lisyening to our favorite songs, or ballet class when I was very little, or learning folk/circle dances with my sister and grandma in the Catskills, or going out to a club when I was a teen and having a great time. Always positive circumstances when I was dancing, and I always had positive reinforcement for my dancing.

marinelife's avatar

We express feeling through movement and dancing, especially in a crowd, is one of the best ways tow rok through feelings.

Sunny2's avatar

The music and rhythms throb through you body and you have to MOVE! It’s a very social activity and brings you closer to others, which is very positive feeling. It’s celebratory and expressive. I’ll bet that when the first person started singing and beating a drum, someone was danced to it.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Mostly because it is “sex” set to music (think about it)! It accomplishes two goals, you get to hold someone you care about close to you & you get to move to the music.

JLeslie's avatar

@Linda_Owl It is not always sex. When I do ballet or zumba with the other 30 girls in the room and maybe 3 men it isn’t sex. Or, a circle dance with all women, I am not thinking sex. Sometimes even when dancing makes me feel sexy, I would not say it is always about sex. For me it is more about feeling personally good, full of energy and life. Sometimes those feelings feel sexual, but sometimes not. When I was six years old dancing with my girlfriends to a pop song, or in my ballet class there was nothing sexual about it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

With the right partner it’s all about expressing yourself, sharing joy and emotions, and just having a great time. If she really gets into it and feels it, it can go to a really wild level.

ninjacolin's avatar

Not sure..

Maybe it’s a matter of using and exploring our bodies to their fullest extent. Trying to do everything that you can with the little time you have. I don’t know why music has the effect that it has but.. if you try to shake yourself up and spin around and jump and make a big physical fuss with yourself without music, you just feel crazy. But when there’s music, it’s like you have permission to experience the limits of your body’s physical abilities all sanely within the boundaries a song. Purposeful craziness. More than just experiencing your own body, you get to watch other bodies and you can learn new things that you can do with your own. Then, when the music is on, you get to escape and experience them yourself. You also get to see what you can do with other bodies either in choreography or in random dance.

I dunno.. but in the end, it seems the biggest points for me would be freedom from normal social constraints (sit up, stand still, walk in a straight line) and artistic (unique) exploration for the self.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Everything’s about sex. And if it’s not directly linked to sex, rest assured it’s meant to help secure the means that will allow you to eventually be able to focus solely on sex. So… what is dancing all about? hmm… lemme think about it for a moment… We’re like rabbits, only worse because with lasers and machine guns, and beer and… you get the picture.

JLeslie's avatar

@fremen_warrior Again with the sex. Have you ever seen a 4 year old dance to the beat of music? Do you think that is about sex? I remember being in Wisconsin one weekend listening to a band at an outside bar/restaurant and there were not many people there, no one on the dance floor until a little girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old started dancing. She was as cute as could be. I had just a few days before had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine about Baptists who don’t allow dance, and I thought to myself ifthis little girl was Baptist she might be scolded for wanting to, feeling the desire tomove to the music. I will never understand it. I understand how dance cam be sexual, don’t get me wrong, I understand religious or modest people separating the sexes for dace like the Orthodox Jews, but I don’t understand the prohibition of dance. Except to say that the woman I spoke of above is fairly uncoordinated. It makes me wonder if the original people who branched off into being Baptists, the men at the top making the rules, didn’t like to dance; better yet sucked at it, and so they decided dance was bad. Maybe there is a genetic component to it all, plus add in never learning as children any grace or timing for dance.

wundayatta's avatar

First of all, there are lots of kinds of dance. It doesn’t always require loud music. What it requires is intention.

If done right, it takes us out of our minds and into our bodies. It transforms consciousness without drugs. Often without people being aware of what is happening. All they know is that they like it. Hence a question like this one.

Dance alters consciousness. It connects us with that that is outside ourselves. It gives a sense of oneness. As such, it can be scary, since people are afraid to let their guard down to achieve such a thing. It also seems like it can be about sex a lot of the time, because that’s another way to achieve oneness. So that’s scary in public. It seems too intense and deep and a lot of people won’t dance.

Also, people play lots of head games with themselves to stop dance from working. Primarily, they judge themselves and others. They make pronouncements about who is and is not a good dancer. That kills dance. It won’t work if you judge.

But even for judgers, every once in a while, dance will get past their defenses, and they lose their minds and find themselves, and it is wonderful. And that’s why people like it so much.

Unbroken's avatar

Music releases dopamine which is linked to the reward centers of our brain.

TinyChi's avatar

Who knows, man.
What about the people who don’t like to dance and stuff?
What does that say about them?

ninjacolin's avatar

^ they’re just self conscious and/or under practiced.

ucme's avatar

Stephen Hawking is simply world class at musical statues.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@JLeslie I highly doubt it was a conscious effort at dancing, and it was fumbling at best, trying to copy what adults do to gain attention / approval. My argument stands.

ninjacolin's avatar

no way, kids are the most curious and exploratory when it comes to moving their bodies around and trying out new tricks. they’re not trying to have sex, they’re just trying to move at all.

jesus, you could blame procreation on everything. Why do people go to work? So they can afford to procreate later! Why do people eat sandwiches? To survive long enough to procreate!

There are some people who dance who are unable to procreate and/or knowingly will not be having sex for the rest of their lives.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

It is a celebration of life. In a social setting it’s a way to look at and kind of size up a stranger without conversation right away. It’s fun. I am a dancer and have been my whole life. I love it.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@ninjacolin most of what we do is pre-programmed behaviour whether we think we’re in control or not. I highly doubt we really have free will. The awareness of, and control over our actions I believe is like that of a drunk who from time to time has small bursts of self control and clear thinking inbetween blackouts.

You do not have to agree with me, but at least read my argument thoroughly before criticizing it. I merely said kids are not dancing per se just imitating grownups’ behaviour in order to get approval (priorities are different when the organism is very young). As per adults, I believe the strongest drive to be the drive to procreate, hence it would be the end goal of all our actions.

Does everybody need to agree with your happy happy joy joy view of reality for you to feel validated? @RareDenver asked a question and I’m answering it sincirely the way I see it, that is the goal of asking a question usually – to get different opinions, not pat yourself on the back and feel validated because everyone agrees with the same uniform “true” outlook. It looks to me as if you are lashing out because someone expressed an opinion different than your own and your ego cannot take it. Thoughts?

ninjacolin's avatar

I think reading your argument thoroughly was how we got into this position in the first place. Cause and effect, don’t blame me. After all, I didn’t click on this question out of my own free will, it just happened to draw me in. Then I read your comment and I was like: “Over generalizing”.. but then I read your second comment and I was like: “I can’t permit this guy to go on thinking over generalizing is a suitable response.” So, I proceeded to point out the flaw I saw in doing that. Again, cause and effect. It’s practically your fault if you wanna get upset at someone.

“Everything’s about sex.” – I didn’t even disagree with you necessarily. I just said that conclusion doesn’t provide deep insight. I’m not criticizing YOU, I’m criticizing the idea (the meme, if you will) that sex is the fulcrum of life. There are lifeforms that don’t sex at all, for example. (I guess now I’m necessarily disagreeing with your comment)

So, what do you think about that?

fremen_warrior's avatar

@ninjacolin There are lifeforms that don’t sex at all, for example. – and do they dance?

What is overgeneralization anyway? We have to make generalizations, because time is finite, and at some point you just get “tired of thinking” further, so you postulate a thesis, or a generalization, and you move on to the next idea. Unless there are avenues you deem worth pursuing there, in which case you either continue to refrain from generalizing and keep on delving deeper into the subject or you make a general statement from which you intend to progress the matter in the future when you get back to it.

Would it matter if instead of sex I said everything is about copying your genetic material, your species’ genetic material, and so on? A broader category will encompass also the sexless organisms and the argument will remain basically the same, all life is a self-replicating system, ever evolving to make leaner, meaner information copying units.

Think memetics on a grand scale. If you stop to think about it for a while, all anything ever does is reprocess matter to get energy for self perpetuation and a long enough survival time to make it possible – society and its rules and customs are just another way for the replicators to increase their potential chances at survival.

What do I think of all of this? Well, I think that I am right. Not that it matters much.

jonsblond's avatar

It looks like we have a dance off here. :)

jonsblond's avatar

@fremen_warrior haha. (aww, I miss Chef).

ninjacolin's avatar

I suppose “over”-generalizing means assuming a generalization fits where it doesn’t really fit at all. It’s almost like not paying attention to the question. But just almost..

Eating Jube Jubes alone in your basement has nothing to do with sex. Similarly, choosing to practice a pirouette over a swing dance or a jig one day has nothing to do with sex. There are points in life, like my posting here in reply to you, that has absolutely no sexual intention whatsoever. You could almost call this a (very short term) act of abstinence.

A lot of hobbies are really only meant to cause non-sexual, non-gene-passing pleasure. Really, I don’t crack my knuckles with a view to passing on my genes. I do it for immediate gratification and nothing more. I don’t even necessarily WANT to crack my knuckles most times. It’s just that i happen to know it’s available path for my personal comfort so i do it.

I think it’s an over-generalization to assume that everything (absolute statement) we do is for the purpose of sex. Sure you’re allowed to have the opinion but I can’t help but point out the flaws in it. It’s no surprise that I’m jumping on an Absolute statement, they’re often precarious. And anyway, I’m just encouraging you to think better on it.

If sex really was the only purpose of life, wouldn’t it make sense to cull the herds who have outlived their sexual viability? (eg. paliative care patients, mentally unsound folks, etc).

I strongly advise you reconsider: There’s more to life than sex and dancing is likely one of them.

RareDenver's avatar

Shit man, I’ve had the snip, do I have to hang up my dancing shoes?

fremen_warrior's avatar

@jonsblond “hello there, children!” xD yeah, I never did understand why he got chucked :/

@ninjacolin why are you so hellbent on having the last word here?

Your last post does not even form a coherent argument. It’s just a handful of shorter statements you deem to be true and claim that must definitely be true, loosely strung together to form a paragraph long display of adhering to society and quite the contrary to what you say, fits perfectly within my line of reasoning…

There is a link to procreation in your post and I will show it to you because hey, that’s what we critters do. Society demands people stay consistent in their beliefs otherwise they are seen as untrustworthy. You also want to save face by not giving up on the argument too early, so you just keep arguing just to show how well adjusted you are… if you cannot see where I am going with this by now, I won’t bother to explain it further.

Don’t you see you are doing what you accuse me of doing at the same time? You say ”A lot of hobbies are really only meant to cause non-sexual, non-gene-passing pleasure.” and I say – have you tried every hobby in the world / most hobbies the world has to offer, and can honestly say there is no sexual element for absolutely anybody doing them? ;-) Or the majority of people for that matter? Mmm model aeroplanes…

On a more serious note, I did mention the link does not have to be direct. Ultimately I believe everything revolves around copying your information and pasting it all over the place. You may think there is no hidden agenda when you, say, build a tree house or start a stamp collection, but who is to say there aren’t any deeper, subconscious undercurrents influencing your decision to take up that particular hobby at this particular time of your life.

I think you just like to argue for argument’s sake.

ninjacolin's avatar

I’m not trying to be an asshole. I’m challenging your notion where I see fit in hopes that you gain from the critique either in your ability to communicate your truths more appropriately or else to enhance your opinion. There’s nothing malicious going on here.

“Ultimately I believe everything revolves around copying your information and pasting it all over the place.”

If you meant it more broadly, like, that life is about spreading both your memes and your genes then I would agree. But you seem to be suggesting strictly gene passage as being the big important thing in life. And with the facts being that many lifeforms (including many humans) will never get the chance to or even the interest in passing their genes on before they die.. well, that would seem to put a nail in the coffin of gene passage as the purpose of all life forms.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@ninjacolin just because an organism might be deficient in certain drives (which can happen due to faulty programming) or even if they fail to pass on their genetic material, most other mechanisms that normally work are still in place. It is the general rule that organisms are imprinted with such drives by default (unless an error occurs) not the end result of them acting towards the goals the drives focus on, that I have brought to light here.

I understand now your approach with narrowing down my generalization, putting it in the right context, and to some degree I appreciate the effort. On the other hand who is to say someone else might not feel that even yours is the too general a generalization and will argue with you to narrow it down even further.

I suppose I got tired of thinking about the idea on a lower level of analysis than you did.

Anyway, thank you for keeping this discussion civil :-)

ninjacolin's avatar

@fremen_warrior said: “Well, I think that I am right.”

To which my reply is: I always do.

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