What is the Link Between Happiness, Music and Dance?
girl-dancing-at-concert, dance incubation

You reaching here clearly shows your interest in knowing the psychology of music and how music affects happiness. Because many people were as curious as you are right now, luckily, there are studies that tell how music affects us and researches explain the link between happiness and music and dance. 

As dancers, we often happen to realize that music plays a very important role in our lives. What is dance without music? Music is a huge part of dancing indeed and nobody seems to deny that. After all, there is a reason that almost every dance form has a piece of distinct music attached to it. Take Jazz, Bachata, Salsa dance forms as examples. They all have music designated to dance to them — Jazz music, Bachata music, Salsa music. 

Studies confirm what we probably already knew. They say the people who dance regularly are pretty happy. While it may seem obvious, when we compare happiness and the enjoyment of music, it can actually tell us about how music affects us. 

It’s true that people who are actively engaged with music through dancing and even attending events like concerts and musicals report having a higher level of wellbeing. While the level of well-being might be subjective, it’s just another way of saying that they have a higher level of happiness. 

Different modes of enjoying music have different results on humans

Studies show that different modes of music have different results. Music consumption can vary from person to person. There can be up to six different activities through which people can consume music. From listening to music, singing, playing an instrument, composing music, attending music-oriented events, to dancing, to name a few. 

Some activities seem to correlate with higher happiness levels. There is a difference in well-being among those who dance to music together or attend music events and those who play an instrument. So listening to music on some music app doesn’t have the same effect on wellbeing as dancing together to music or going to music-oriented events has. It simply suggests that we crave for emotional and social connections. The activities that do not offer us that, do not simply have happiness to offer. 

The active engagement seems to be critical about dancing together to music. People who interact with music are using an outlet to express their emotion, after all. So it’s an outlet that gets even more powerful when people share it. They end up getting more intimate. 

Dancing to music seems to be the way that can facilitate social connections. Social relationships as we know, are absolutely critical to one’s wellbeing. So anything that has people come together through the same interests or commonality will contribute to the wellbeing; dancing to music is no exception. 

Does attending music concerts mean happiness then?

Well, just because humans have their ways to find belongingness, buying the tickets to the next possible concert may not be the best idea to feel the happiness music spares. It’s not all about sweaty outdoor festivals and EDM shows. It only seems true. It is important to remember that just because there’s a relationship, it doesn’t mean there is a causation. Likewise dancing at a rock show doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be happier and have healthier relationships all of a sudden. 

Not very surprisingly, it’s just as plausible that the people who are happier than others have a reason to dance or the people who have more resources go to concerts. But the way music can affect our happiness is more reflective of the way we think about music. 

For instance, listening to music alone doesn’t really seem to have the same happiness correlation. But, at the same time, many people around us, including some of us, experience music that way on a daily basis — like something that is going to give us happiness. 

Truth is rather interesting. While in today’s age everybody is sort of walking around with their earphones in their ears and barely engaging with others, at the same time, there’s a clear difference between listening to music in isolation versus listening to music with others or engaging with others while dancing to it. The latter sure is more effective than the former. Also, activities that have us enjoy music with others have their own spectrum too. For instance, as we just mentioned, dancing to music together is more engaging and intimate than dancing in a concert alone. 


How dancing to music can lead to happiness? 

Moving your body to music, or let’s just call it dancing, has got you emotionally covered. When people dance, their bodies release endorphins. This chemical is responsible for triggering positive energy and good vibes. It also happens to improve our emotional state and reduce our perception of pain. Wouldn’t you call dancing the cure for sadness? Are you feeling down? Well, then just crank the music up and erupt into an impromptu dance session and you tell for yourself. 

To elaborate it further, from casual consideration of your own life, you might have noticed how dancing can help you elevate your mood. Promising scientific research has also shown that there are potential mental health benefits of dancing. Well, thanks to the hormones that are released in our brains, as earlier mentioned, when we rhythmically (not necessarily like an expert) bop out limbs around. 

You can find as many studies as you want on how music, dance, and happiness are part of the healing experience. Some even go on to say that it is the most healing experience that exists in the universe. It’s safe to say that dance releases your DOSE — dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, neurotransmitters, and hormones in your brain — all of them generally linked with happiness and well-being. 

But even beyond that, why exactly does dancing make us feel so amazing? Many would say, dancing is much like taking a kickboxing class or going to the gym because dancing too gets you active enough to burn calories. But beyond hormones and calories, it seems like there is more at play than simply releasing hormones and breaking a sweat. It also happens to connect with the emotional centres in the brain. 

In our journey of teaching Bachata and constructing online Bachata courses, we have realized that for many people dancing prompts an emotional release that we can call uncomplicated happiness. Some people might cry too. But it is so uncomplicated that it is cathartic and it really helps you let go of pent-up emotions. At the same time, it also works as a sensual activity for couples to express love. 

There is power in moving to the beat of the music. In fact, there is power in moving to the rhythm of your own body. So regardless of whether you are a graceful dancer or not, everyone ‘can’ and in fact, ‘should’ dance to  great music. So not only think of dancing as a sweat-inducing workout but also an activity that lightens your mood and helps you to open up opportunities to connect with other people or even your loved ones. 

Let’s explore. 

Dance is a form of exercise that is not as boring as working out

For a lot of people working out might sound like a chore. Some even go on to say that it is a form of punishment. We are not against working out at all. In fact, having that kind of mindset is not an effective or healthy way to look at physical activity. To build a habit to break some sweat, it’s important to look for activities that do not feel like a chore or exercise. Dancing is one of those activities. 

Just half an hour of a 6-week Bachata dance online course every day can help you burn the unwanted calories. While running may help you burn more unwanted calories, the repetitiveness of the activity can make you feel bored, which is very unlikely to happen in the case of dancing to music. And it is always a bonus that dancing stimulates the release of important chemicals, as discussed earlier. 

What’s better than your brain releasing the chemicals that are responsible for inducing positive emotions? You can experience happiness, pleasure, and even love because of these chemicals. Not to forget that they also help in minimizing feelings of pain and unpleasantness. These chemicals help in creating an overall positive outlook in an individual. 

Dance is a cathartic experience that helps you release pent-up negative emotions

Dance can also be seen as a form of therapy — not only individually but also for couples. Letting your body move to the music can be a therapeutic experience because it helps to release the pent-up aggression and stress too. Some people even go on to say that dance has helped them to release their unwanted feelings of body image issues.

Not surprisingly enough, what makes dancing even more cathartic is the musical accompaniment. Music is considered very well equipped to relieve stress on its own. It is an effective tool for a distraction from pain for sure. People in the UK rank music as the third most powerful mood booster, after a good joke, and speaking with a loved one. 

These findings from surveys only show how dramatic the effect of music can be. When we pair music with movement, it can go on to be one of the most effective tools not only to release negative emotions but also replace those negative emotions with positive ones.

Dance is a social interaction that increases the sensual bond 

Salsa, Zumba, Ballet, Pole, Bachata — all of these dance classes and then some more, create opportunities to connect with people. In some cases, couples choose couple dances like Bachata and Salsa to rekindle the spark in their relationship. It doesn’t only encourage them to step out of their comfort zone in terms of socializing but also keeps them surrounded by like-minded people. 

Further, some dances are more intimate than others. Intimate dances encourage touch and sensuous music like Bachata music can affect your love life positively. Experts even go on to say that sensuous music makes you easier to approach too. Studies show that listening to sensuous music helps you narrow down potential love interests to the most eligible ones. So in one way, it makes you understand your potential partner through intimate non-verbal communication. 

Sensuous music paired with sensuous dance is just the perfect way to rekindle the spark in your relationship and reclaim happiness, keeping in mind all the reasons from chemicals released to the physical intimacy demanded during such activity. 

Over to you!

All in all, music paired with dancing has the power to make you happy. Now you know why you feel too happy and pleasant after you move your body to music. In other words: Continue to dance like nobody’s watching. 

While moving your body to music may not be a complete replacement for seeing a therapist or a marriage counsellor, it’s comforting to know that it has a health-promoting effect not only individually but for couples. It leads to an overall healthy lifestyle. It definitely brings people close enough to help them erase some frowns. 

Dancing to music is not only one of the best forms of self-expression but also an expression of your love for someone. And isn’t love another name for happiness, folks? 

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Dance Incubation, Bachata Course, Caroline

Caroline Kjeldgaard

Fulltime dancer and creator

Caroline is giving her all to share knowledge around sensuality and movement as a female dancer. She is based in Hong Kong and provides weekly guidance to her followers.

Caroline Kjeldgaard

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