Cultural phenomena fascinate me. The Beatles, Harry Potter, Michael Jackson, the Nae-Nae…phenomena like those that can transcend countries, classes, races, socio-economic statuses, gender, sexuality are incredible. We claim to be so different from one another, but if that’s the case, how do these things cross so many borders?
Salsa is another cultural phenomenon that seems to be just about everywhere. From small towns in the States to metropolises in Thailand, it seems that you can go almost anywhere in the world and find people dancing Salsa. Why is that?
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure it out and here are some of my theories.
Salsa Symbolizes A Wider World
People who dance Salsa know that there’s a wider world out there. They know that there are people, places, and cultures, beyond the microcosm that they experience on a daily basis. And they want to explore that wider world. Salsa, by it’s nature, exposes people to a variety of cultures in just one song. There are musical influences from all over the world in a single piece of music—just hearing a Salsa song transports you to another place or time. By the same token, the dance draws upon influences from all over the world and people are constantly fusing new styles with it to keep it evolving and growing. There’s a sense of exploration and adventure you get from dancing Salsa that pushes people out of the confines of their daily lives.
Salsa Proves There Is “More to Life”
There’s a special kind of abandon that I’ve only ever seen on the Salsa dance floor that shows without a shadow of a doubt that there is more to life than just working, paying bills, and dying. It’s what makes Salsa dancing so intoxicating—there are so few instances in our lives these days where we are truly present. On the dance floor, there are no phones, no emails, no obligations or stress. People look so happy to just BE there—it’s a space to not dwell on yesterday or to worry about tomorrow. Salsa dancing gives a life and energy that keeps you going through even the roughest of times.
Salsa Creates Human Connection
Humans thrive on physical touch and community. We aren’t made to live in isolation, not talking to or touching each other. Salsa dancing gives an opportunity to just touch other people—in a respectful and not-creepy way. Human touch makes you feel loved, keeps you from feeling alone. Physical touch releases oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel like everything is right with the world—and also lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. Part of the reason Salsa dancing is so addicting is because you get multiple hits of oxytocin every time you go out…so you leave feeling pretty damn good.
What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Think there are other big important reasons I’ve missed? Comment below!