Let’s face it, we’re all nerds here. We’re all smart. We’ve all felt unabashed enthusiasm for learning. We all kinda hate the bar scene and huge parties with tons of inebriated strangers. We’ve all felt like outsiders.
Don’t believe me? Let me tell you a story.
The year was 2006. I was a swing dancing noob attending the aptly named Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown. Hundreds of dancers were seated in a dimmed ballroom, waiting for the next competition. Our mutual adrenaline electrified the air.
All eyes were on the emcee. But he decided to have a little fun.
“Raise your hand if you were captain of the football team in high school!” he said. “Anyone?” I looked around. I didn’t see any hands. “Raise your hand if you were a cheerleader!” A couple hands went up. I started to wonder where he was going with this embarrassing line of questions.
“Who played in band in high school? Who was in drama club?”
ME! I played in band!! I was PRESIDENT of the drama club!! I squealed and flung both hands up for good measure.
To my utter surprise, so did every other person in the room.
Together, hundreds of lindy hoppers cheered high school pep bands, youth theater, AP classes, and every other dorkish thing I’d grown up loving. That moment changed my life. I went from being a long-time outcast to realizing I had a family. I belonged here! My people!
I still wasn’t that good at dancing. But I finally knew I could never quit.
So why do nerdy people flock to lindy hop? I’ll tell you why. And perhaps you’ll be moved to give it a try, too.
Top 10 Reasons Nerdy People Love Lindy Hop
10. Dancing helps you get out of your head.
Thinking is awesome, k? But instead of being constantly wrapped up your thoughts (like when writing your dissertation), do fun stuff. Frivolous stuff. Cool stuff. Just-because-you-want-to stuff.
9. Structured social setting.
Have you ever been to a party and spent the whole time standing around with a drink in your hand, wishing there was something to DO? Like, can someone get out a board game already??
Instead of sitting around talking about boring things, we DO STUFF. You ask someone to dance, do some moves for a few minutes, say thanks, repeat with a new person. You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to.
8. It’s FUN exercise.
FUN EXERCISE?! That’s the holy grail!
Especially as a beginner, you’re too busy getting your steps right to realize you’re out of breath. Those stupid, “Lose weight with this 1 weird old trick!” ads should link to a lindy hop instructional video.
7. Finally have a valid excuse to learn to dress well.
Or if you already know how to dress well, it gives you an excuse to wear your nice outfits. This is important because:
6. Dancing makes you sexy.
There’s a study. It must be true.
5. Meet thousands of other people just like you. Literally.
A huge proportion of lindy hoppers fit into some definition of “nerd.” We are: Programmers, nurses, designers, physicists, teachers, engineers, admin assistants, baristas with dormant college degrees… About half of us work in IT.
We seem to have a strong liberal streak. And we are opinionated because we care about things.
4. Being a dancer gives you an enormous boost in confidence.
Most people are scared to death of dancing in public. They need alcohol or safety in numbers. As a dancer, you just need some good music.
Whenever I feel anxious around a group of people, I simply imagine them all running for the hills if a disco ball suddenly descended from the ceiling.
3. Socially-sanctioned touching. (Woo-hoo!)
Raise your hand if you like physical contact! Yeah, me too. It’s difficult to initiate in this day and age.
Lindy hop provides a structured, normal context for giving and receiving touch. After I started dancing, I got a lot better at giving hugs. Just sayin’.
2. It’s basically the coolest hobby on the planet.
Everyone knows lindy hoppers do tricks and flips in the air. When you learn swing dancing, you are cool by association. My iron-clad anecdotal data shows that all of my non-dancing friends assume I’m cool because I can swing dance.
Plus partner dancing feels like magic. Hard to explain, but you’ll find out when you try it.
1. Dancing gives you one more thing to geek out about.
It all comes back to this. You can learn the basics of swing dancing in a weekend. You can get comfortable with it in a couple of months. But mastering the skill takes tenacity and attention to detail, which nerdy people are uniquely qualified for.
Bet you never thought you’d be uniquely qualified to master a physical activity. Well, now you know.
Live in Seattle? I oh-so-conveniently teach classes with my exceptionally nerdy partner, Paul. Go check them out now!
If you’re already a dancer, download my book The Beginner Dancer’s Survival Guide!